Imperfectly Nice

Archive for the category “Parenthood”

One and done 

“You guys having unprotected sex lately?”

“Are you ovulating, like, right now?”

Those, ladies and gentlemen, are the questions you may as well be asking me when you constantly poll me re: when we are going to “try” for more babies. Plural. Babies. More. Babies. When I give my answer – a great big smile and a shake of my head, “Nope, we are one and done,” and make some joke about when you hit perfection the first time around you don’t have to try again – I see your faces immediately fall.

“Oh,” you say, and I can almost hear the thoughts running around in your head while you try to sort through and pick one of the many completely inappropriate answers that are eventually going to fall out of your pie hole.

Because you really just can’t help it, I’ve decided. You feel the need to say something. And that something is never, ever, “Okay, cool.” Or, “Hey, that’s great.” Or anything else remotely supportive. Here is a sample of the more popular things you like to say and/or imply.

1. “You just have the one then? Plans for another? No? Oh. Oooohh. I am sooo sorry. I mean, lots of women go through this, maybe if you just, you know, relax.” 

Well … no, I don’t have fertility issues that I am aware of, but really, that’s just none of your business. If I did, having a biological child isn’t the only solution there is to your chorus of “needing to have more babies” anyway. In fact, we have discussed that fact that if we ever did decide to have more children, we would probably adopt, with or without fertility issues. Thanks for the concern, I guess? But in the future? Maybe you shouldn’t pry into anyone’s fertility issues and talk about “relaxing” because that’s just not any kind of helpful. Also maybe just stay out of my uterus next time. That would be greeaaat. 

2. “Oh, that first one must be a handful! Is he a difficult child?”

In fact, I have a wonderfully loving, quirky child who I wouldn’t trade for a million trillion unicorns that poop gold.

3. “I don’t know, I mean, I am just so … maternal. Motherhood is just a calling for me. I just such a mom, you know? I can’t imagine only have one. I guess you just … aren’t quite as maternal.”

Yes, it’s a medical fact that you are not actually a parent until at least two babies have exited your birth canal. It’s totally in medical books. Obviously, I completely lack maternal instinct and am a cold-hearted woman because I don’t fall to pieces at the thought of another baby and the smell of Johnson’s Baby Shampoo (that sweet smelling carcinogen).

People, I fall apart looking at my child. Every. Day. He is the best thing that’s hit this earth for several thousand years as far as I’m concerned. I adore him – possibly too much. But I don’t covet your baby or my neighbor’s baby or some random baby at the grocery store. They are all beautiful, lovely creatures I am sure, but you can wave them and their sweet-smelling heads under my nose all you want – I will not be moved. I will hold them and love them and happily give them back to their mothers who wouldn’t trade them for a million trillion unicorns that poop gold.

4. “But what if something happens to him?”

Ooooh, I see. I should have a backup kid. It’s totally like having a spare tire in your trunk, I think. An heir and a spare. Um … no. There are so many things wrong with that argument I refuse to even pretend it exists.

5. “But who is going to take care of you when you get old?”

So we should have another (the spare) so the current (the heir) isn’t left alone to take care of us in our old age. Interesting. But guess what? I didn’t have child so I would have some sort of nursemaid/retirement plan/medical assistance in my old age. Did you? Probably not the best plan. I would maybe look into some investment and insurance options if I were you.

6. “I mean, I didn’t want another but I did it for little so and so. I just couldn’t do that to them. I feel like it’s cruel to have a child go through life alone like that. And you know how only children are.”

Yes, it is my dearest desire to raise a selfish prat because he thinks he is the center of the universe. I actually know a lot of only children and they are some of my favorite people. They turned out just fine. Really well, even, in spite of the fact that they didn’t have someone who pulled their hair or constantly tattled on them as a child. Also, I know a lot of people with multiple children and one or more of those children are already bigger jacklegs than my only child could ever dream of being, even if we spent literal years worshiping him and telling him the sun rises and sets with him, so your argument is invalid, sir.

7. “Oh, he had colic and reflux. No wonder you don’t want another!”

I admit, those first days and nights were tough. Reflux and colic (his) and self-doubt and pain (mine), do not make the memory of those first days fuzzy and warm. However, I do have enough perspective to know they didn’t last and I would go through it all again for my son without question if I had to. It was rough, but it ended. That wouldn’t actually stop me from having another baby.

8. “But you have to have a girl!”

Thank you for demonstrating your complete lack of knowledge about the reproductive process. Moving on.

9. “Well, I guess it would be nice to have so much time to myself and to have all of that extra money, but family is more important to me than that.”

Well, you’ve hit the nail on the head. We are over here rolling around in the piles of money we aren’t spending on diapers and sippy cups while we laugh at all of you people who were crazy enough to reproduce more than once. You must be looking through our windows. 

If you really, really want to know why we aren’t having another child, here it is … Drum roll please, the ONE reason we are one and done is …

1- We are content. 

We feel complete. And I just know some of you right now are thinking how selfish and horrible that is … but isn’t that what most people say when they decide to have as second or third or fourth? That they don’t feel like their family is complete?

Why is that feeling of completeness only a valid argument for more children, but not for those of us who choose to have just one? We are happy. We are complete. Our child is happy and loved. That’s good enough for us, and it should be for you, too.

And if we ever do decide to adopt our African baby – which is always what I said I would do if I had a second – I look forward to the barrage of inappropriate comments about Ebola and Angelina Jolie-Pitt that will inevitably come. And if we ever decide to have a third, I will look forward to your comments about “knowing what causes pregnancy – heh, heh,” and how we are irresponsible for bringing another child into the world to drink water and use resources and destroy the planet.

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Speak now, or forever hold your …

Dear Disney/Pixar animators/executives/overlords,

I must first tell you how much I appreciate your films. They are charming. They make me laugh. They make me ugly cry. (“Up” and “Toy Story 3”? Mascara and nose running – every time. Every. Time.) My three-year old is also a big fan, and has already developed several Pixar obsessions including, but not limited to, “Cars,” “Incredibles,” “Monsters Inc.,” “Monsters University,” the “Toy Story” trilogy and “Nemo.” Which is odd because I honestly don’t think he has ever seen “Nemo.” It matters not to him. He knows Dory exists and loves her. THAT is the power of Disney Pixar. Just the mere suggestion of Ellen DeGeneres as sea life and my son is sold. Hook, line and sinker. (See what I did there?) The force is strong with Pixar. (Now even more so, since Disney bought Lucasfilm.) I am on board with the Pixar party line in most cases. “Toy Story” teaches friendship and loyalty. “Nemo” teaches that we never give up on those we love.” Cars” teaches that maybe we aren’t the most important person we know and that things are better shared with friends. “Up,” ah “Up.” There is so much about “Up” to love. I could go on and on about the wonderful lessons my child has learned from me allowing the television to babysit him on those kinds of days. And I thank you for every single one of those lessons, overlords.

But I must appeal to you as the mother of a fairly new public restroom user. Let me explain. I heard about the horrors of potty training from other moms and dads, and quite honestly, I found them to be greatly exaggerated. We were pleasantly surprised when our son showed interest and just kind of started going to the potty without a huge amount of fanfare or pressure from us. Charts and targets and special songs? Please. Clearly, my child is a professional pottier and needs no such motivation. (Fellow parents, please do not think I am being a smug mother about this. Vaught has consistently done the “hard” stuff like teething and potty training without much fuss, yet continues to do things other parents think are “easy” and even “enjoyable” with a maximum amount of tears and gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair. Both ours and his. It’s just God’s way of having a little fun with us, I think.) So, while potty training was not the Stephen King novel I thought it would be (both in terms of length and horror), I quickly discovered something much, much worse than potty training, and that is a toddler in a public restroom.

I swear to you, there are days I long for the disgusting koala bear changing table where I could lay down a changing pad to be thoroughly cleaned at home later. Now, my son climbs on to the public potty using both hands. BOTH. HANDS. I don’t care if you Clorox the entire seat for 20 minutes, watching your child hold on to the seat using his bare hands will make you want to vomit. I don’t care if you are a germaphobe or not. This will easily make you one and test your gag reflex all at once. Then, once he is on the potty, he wants to play with the little trashcan featured in most ladies rooms. Also, Walmart is apparently a blooming laxative for my child.

See what I’ve got going on here, Disney? Quite frankly, I’ve got enough potty problems to handle without you adding to the ever-growing list of Things That Make Mommy Gag. And don’t sit there looking all innocent, like you don’t know what I’m talking about. You know.

I’m talking about this:

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And this:

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And now, this:

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How resourceful of Woody to escape Sunny Side by climbing on to the toilet paper holder and out of the bathroom window. Guess what my child tries to do now in public restrooms? Go on, just guess. If you guessed that he attempts to stand on the metal holder with his pants still around his ankles to escape like Woody then you would be correct. It’s fun for both of us.

And since it was sooooo hilarious for Mike Wazowski to accidentally drop his foot into the toilet, guess what is equally hilarious (in his mind) for my son to pretend to do?

Oh, and now that “Nina Needs to Go” is on the air? Gosh, mommy won’t it be absolutely the best thing in the world EVER for me to wait to go until the last possible second to tell you I need to go and then expect you to perform all sorts of acrobatics and high jinx a la Nina’s grandmother to get me to the potty in time? Won’t it? Won’t it?

Guess what again, Disney? It won’t. It really, really won’t.

So, please Disney and Disney Pixar, please, for the love of the CDC, stop including “cute” little scenes like these in your movies and animation shorts. I am already trying to figure out how to help my son, um, clean up while dodging the stuff that shoots up when I accidentally trigger the autoflush function. It’s too much. On behalf of myself and mothers of toddlers and preschools everywhere, might I suggest a nice scene in your next film where the main character thoroughly washes his or her hands/flippers/tires and doesn’t touch ANYTHING until they get home? Or maybe a sidekick who thinks about putting that toy they just dropped on the bathroom floor in their mouth and then decides that would be disgusting and then maybe he just chucks the toy in the trash can on the way out? Just a thought. I would pay $8 a ticket to see that.

Sincerely,

April Lollar, mother of one and rotavirus activist

I got 99 problems …

Vaught is two. “Terrible” two. I have spent most of his “terrible” twos telling other parents with younger children, “Oh, please – terrible twos! Ha! Two is totally fun! Toddlerhood, in my opinion, is much more fun than the infant stage! This is great! Awesome, even! It is nonstop fun over here and don’t listen to parents who talk about those ‘terrible twos!’ They are obviously a little crazy!” Do you see all of my exclamation pointed excitement about two and being two, and two is just a big pile of AWESOME?!

Ha! Hahahahahahaha! Oh, universe. You sure do like to make me eat my words, don’t you? It’s a fun little game you play, isn’t it? While I have been busy being all smug about the greatness that is two, my child has been busy plotting. Yes, plotting, I tell you. Maybe I can blame it on the approximately 72 trillion showings of “Despicable Me” he’s watched recently. (And, yes, I am aware that I am the one pressing play. But, for a kid who likes to be outside or playing and not in front of a TV all that often, and for a mom who personally loves Gru and his little minions, I allow it.) Anyway, he particularly loves the parts where Gru is bossing his minions around and does an awesome “Listen UP!” that even Steve Carell would be proud of. It’s cute. Or it was until I realized he was taking pointers.

This whole waiting until he’s almost three to hit this stage is part of his strategy, I think. He got me all comfortable thinking I totally had this toddler thing covered while, in reality, he has been plotting all Gru-like – probably late at night with Woody and Mickey and the two Bullzeyes that share his bed. Oh, and the dinosaur. I’ve never trusted that dinosaur. Anyway, he’s gone from sweet snuggle fests and playing and toddler blissdom to testing our boundaries every chance he gets. It started off slowly. A finger pointed at us here and there, an exasperated sigh from time to time. He has always been a strong-willed child, and he has always challenged us, but in ways that haven’t driven us crazy. And now? Well, hello there, crazy! We’ve have come careening into terrible two just like some certain toddler making laps around the couch on his tricycle.

Here are some of the ways I’ve RUINED his life recently:

–          I opened the crackers before I opened the juice.

–          I opened the juice before I opened the crackers.

–          I opened the juice but was supposed to let HIM do the straw.

–          I made him do the straw.

–          I let the corner of the white blanket peek out from underneath the blue blanket, which MUST go on top. And it MUST completely cover the white blanket. Please note: The blue blanket is smaller than the white blanket. This is … math I can’t even do. I have become a master of blanket origami is all I can tell you.

–          I said something out of order at bedtime. It goes, “Sweet dreams. I love you. Okay.” NOT “I love you. Sweet dreams. Okay.” I mean seriously, after I’ve mastered the illusion of full blue blanket coverage I can’t always be expected to remember the script exactly, can I? The answer is yes, yes, I can. Also, I don’t even know when the “okay” became part of the script. What in the world? I need these changes in writing.

This list could go on for quite a while. I could write volumes. The point is, this kid – he is testing us. Most of the time I tell him something like, “Well, yes, I did open the refrigerator door in a way you found offensive, but, son, we must move on with our lives,” but lately, I notice myself having more days where I sound a little short and a little stressed. There have been days that when he has done his Gru “Listen UP!” speech that I’ve thought … hmmmm, that maybe sounds more like me than Steve Carell. Just maybe. Oh, and that exasperated sigh? Wow, that’s all me.

But now I do understand the conversations I used to have with my sister, who has three children, when she would tell me that yes, there will be days they will drive you nuts, there will be days you long for 30 minutes of peace, there will be days that you yell too much and feel like a bad parent, but most of the time, by the end of those days, there will be a moment that puts it all in perspective. For me, even if there have been stomped feet and clinched fists and tears, he still wants to snuggle with me on the couch before I go rock him, and that’s my moment. I know that is a luxury. When he is all grown up, he won’t want that. He won’t say, “Sweet dreams. I love you. Okay.” So even when he gets frustrated when I say it “wrong,” I try my best to remember I won’t always get to tuck him in and suddenly the feeling of, this too shall pass, thank God, becomes, oh … this too shall pass. Oh. Perspective. See?

And if it’s been a particularly challenging day when even the snuggling isn’t working? I find one of the final scenes of “Madagascar 3” works wonders for our moods. You try to spin a two-year old around the room to Katy Perry without laughing. You can’t. It’s one of those things like not being able to lick your own elbow. Physically impossible. Because some days, you just gotta ignite the light and let it shine. Just own the night, like the fourth of July. (You will have that in your head the rest of the day now. You are welcome. I recommend not fighting it. Just find a two-year old to spin with.)

ImageYep. He’s got me exactly where he wants me. (Photo credit: Jennifer Jones Photography.)

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