I went off to college wanting to be an elementary school teacher. That goal was lost somewhere along the line, but I had a very 1950’s daydream about me in cardigan sweater sets talking about conjugating verbs.
After college, I spent my summers working at an all-girls summer camp, and my first week on the job, I volunteered to take the youngest group.
I’m great with the wee ones, I said.
The little ones love me, I assured them.
I’m going to have at least six, I purred.
It was the longest fucking week of my life. Six days of herding cats; whiny, homesick, can’t open their own juice or wipe themselves cats.
I had overshot my maternal instinct by at least 10 miles, and you assume this is the part where I say it was different when I had my own kids, but it’s not. Because it actually wasn’t.
Yes, I adored and loved them and would eat the jugular out of anyone who tried to harm them, but I didn’t enjoy their infancy, because the truth is, I don’t enjoy babies. I was scared to admit that for a long time because I’m a woman, and babies get made inside of me, so you’d think I’d be partial, but *drops bra on floor and lights it on fire* it’s the truth.
When I’m handed a baby, I don’t get the fever or the twitch in my empty womb, though something does sometimes move in there, so it’s either gas or a parasite.
I don’t crave the new baby smell, because I remember what it just came out of. I mean, I’m logical about very few things in life, but vagina baby shoots are one of them.
And I guess I just have PTSD about the whole thing. On a humid day, I can still remember the sweet smell of a meaty vodka sauce looking, up the back, diaper explosion.
Parenting isn’t necessarily less gross now, but I feel more mentally invested. I mean, I’ll change your diaper and walk you around the house while you scream because I love you. But I’ll sit on the floor beside you on the toilet and talk to you while you have diarrhea because we’re friends, and that’s what friends do.
I woke up one day and everything changed, everything suddenly glaringly obvious.
I am more aware of their ravenous after school hunger moans on the drive home. I’m tightening the adjustable waists of pants that are now inches too short. We aren’t watching cartoons anymore, but rather complicated tweenage telenovelas with plots and subplots and sub-subplots and ironic LOLing and no parents to be found, anywhere.
It’s a generation of triple threat hipster orphans.
And the fact of the matter is, I love it. Every year is my new favorite year.
I love the weird shit they say, the dreams they tell me about before we fall asleep, the fact that we can go out to lunch together and chat the whole time, and good God, they’re just so fucking portable now.
They can use Yelp, sweet talk any hotel concierge, and use iPhones. Plus, Andy and I hang out with them now, like, by choice.
We are officially one week out from our trip to Florida, which means I’ve pulled the large suitcases up and open on top of the hot tub in my office, and I’ve begun the first round of throwing clothes in. In previous years, this would also be the pre-trip point where I’d start doubling up my xanax and punching myself in the face while looking in the mirror, willing myself not to cry.
But, as I sit on my bed while Gigi fishtail braids my hair and tells me how pretty my skin looks today, I’m enjoying this parenthood sweet spot, and cautiously optimistic about our 18 hour road trip adventure.
My rose colored parenting glasses are returning.