I am sixteen years into a marriage that most people who attended our wedding probably gave sixteen weeks. This practical, everything is black and white, think it over carefully kind of girl threw caution to the wind, held her breath, threw a penny into the fountain and married for love with very little thought to how it would all go. It’s going fine thank you.
I do add to that, while things are going fine, never say never because then you are on Oprah saying, “No, I really didn’t know he was cheating/watching porn/texting teen girls/(insert problem here).” But, I really do think it is going fine.
We have four kids, four girls, all two years a part. People always ask if we are going to try for the boy. I say, “We did…four times.” I also feel if God wanted me to have a boy, I would have one. If I kept trying I would have five girls. In the end, while I know my husband was really praying that we would have a boy, I was grateful when the last one was a girl. By that time girls were what I knew and luckily I was very sure I wanted a fourth “child,” irregardless of what happened. So, here we are with this big family that we didn’t actually discuss or plan, but it is going fine.
I realized rather early on that when I pictured our lives and family, I pictured… kids. I pictured activities with…kids. I pictured great family vacations with …kids. I pictured holidays with…kids. However, it turns out that before you can have “kids” you must have babies. This is the part I didn’t picture. Originally I thought we would space the children out about five or six years. Once I realized how exhausting the baby phase was I sped it all up with a grand determination to grit my teeth and get through it.
My vision of kids versus the reality that is babies was never more evident then the year we had our third, or as I like to call it “The year I was almost committed.”
I am organized and on time for everything. Actually, I am early for everything and while I am getting more relaxed with age, a nervous, sick feeling starts in my stomach if the clock hits a time I am supposed to be somewhere, but am not yet. When we had our third child I stopped working and tried being a “stay at home mom.” This did not work out for me on so many different levels it is impossible to cover them all. The biggest problem was that for an entire year I could not get myself and three children where we needed to be on time to save my life. It didn’t matter if the function was at ten in the morning or ten at night, we were going to be late.
So I spent a whole year with that sick feeling in my stomach and while I was feeling sick about my chronic tardiness, my third child spent her time actually being sick. This means that for six solid months I would feed her and she would projectile vomit it right back out. I had to start wearing really cheap, inexpensive clothes because I could only wear them once (vomited formula the most unforgiving stain known to man). I had to start carrying her around the stomach facing out from me…kind of like when you carry clothes on your arm when shopping. This did not scream warmth and love to the innocent bystander and about once a day we would be out, she would projectile vomit on the ground and someone would say, “Oh dear the baby spit up. Mom? Did you know your baby spit up?” To which I would reply in a rather surly tone, “Yeah…I know.” I felt like adding “spit up my ass…there is a puddle of baby formula vomit on the ground, did you think I didn’t see that?” Luckily she was my third so I wasn’t tied down to the rules of mothering. Against all advice and every baby book written, I gave her milk at seven months and that was the end of that. The projectile fun ended and never returned.
The absence of constant vomiting now gave me time to deal with my second child. She was two and “eccentric.” I am going with eccentric or “quirky” because the reality was she was weird and weird is a bitter pill to swallow when discussing your own child. I can reference weird because in the end she grew out of it, but it was a long year.
Once a week we would go to our church’s youth group. I needed the break from my kids and quite honestly I thought maybe God could help my situation. In the end while the other children would participate in the bible lesson or craft…most youth group sessions found my child in the corner with scissors cutting paper into small pieces or sitting backwards on a chair rocking back and forth. Let’s face it these were not actions that screamed, “play with me, be my friend.” There were looks from the other moms, but luckily it was church so they were kept to a minimum, because I am certain people felt that had to be kind at church. God only knows what they said when they got home.
I also decided that while I was a stay at home mom I should join play groups. I won’t spend a lot of time on this I will just say quite emphatically that I was a BIG PLAYGROUP LOOSER. I never had the right snacks, I had the vomiting baby and the “quirky/eccentric” toddler and I never really cared about any of the things the other mothers were talking about. This was because they were talking about their babies and it turns out that I wasn’t super interested in the baby part. It was all a huge disaster that had me checking into daycare and running back to work by the end of the year.
I love my kids and I loved them as babies too. Really, there are lots of great “baby” moments and I am not a monster. I am just being honest when I say that I hadn’t realized the baby part…tons of plastic paraphernalia (car seats, strollers, high chairs etc.), diapers, late nights, no sleep and all the rest would be so hard. I am sure there are two categories of people out there, the mothers that appreciate my honesty and those that are a little bit horrified, because some people are the exact opposite of me…they pictured the baby part and not the kid part (feel free to find their blog/book for another point of view).
My youngest is five. There is no more “baby” stage. They are all “kids” now. We’ll see…now it might just turn into Be Careful What You Wish For!!!