Imperfectly Nice

Archive for the tag “parenting”

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.

Sweet summertime

The world is bleached blue in the fading light, the frogs and crickets and cicadas playing their nightly song while the fireflies blink like tiny, white Christmas lights.

I lay on the front porch, fingers scraped and stained from picking blackberries on the fence row between our house and the farm behind us.

I watch the moon rise with my little one close against me. I lazily swat mosquitoes away from him and his still downy, soft hair tickles my nose. 

He whispers to me to tell him “secrets” (stories) about when he was a baby. I tell him about the all of the time we would spend circling the back deck or the front yard when his colic and reflux were at their worst, while I would sway him and sing “Dream a Little Dream of Me.”

I would tell him the man in the moon was smiling at him while he cried and I paced. Then, I didn’t think those would ever be sweet memories, but they are.

He asks if we can dance and sing under the moon now, and we do, him giggling as we spin. 

Eventually, the mosquitoes chase us away, back to the warm light of the house. 

The magic of nighttime during the summer has spun its quiet spell around us and we look up at the moon one last time before we head off to bed. 


My little man,

You are three now. A question you have asked me every day since your birthday. “Mommy, am I still three?” Yes, you are still three. You will be three for an entire year, but I have a hunch it will feel like too soon when I am reassuring you of your status as a four-year old. Next year, you will have just started school when your birthday arrives. You will be exiting the car on your own to run into pre-school with your little back pack swaying and bouncing with your steps. You will know new friends and have new places to go and learn so many new things. But I won’t think of any of that now. No, now, I am going to enjoy three.

The problem is, though, that I don’t think I’m very good at three so far, and that is troublesome. Three, three is the age I have been looking forward to the most, I think. Well, three and four. When I worked in the summers in college at a daycare, I adored three. Three with all of its unpredictably hilarious behavior, three that still has chubby fingers, three that is independent but still so sweet …

Well, my son, you are knocking the gently hazy edges of three right out of my brain. There is nothing gentle and hazy about three. Three is wiggly and challenging and alive. So alive. Three is you being able to express your emotions with your very adult vocabulary, but not quite knowing that you can use those words all of the time, instead of screaming your discontent. You can say, “Mommy, I am frustrated with (fill in the blank) because (fill in the blank) but it takes us so long to GET THERE. Your first reaction is tears and squeals when I know you’ve got it in you to just tell me about it. It’s that, your amazing capacity for words, that makes me expect too much from you. The tantrums and screams are puzzling to me because you have the words. I’m sorry I expect you to know at three years and a few weeks old exactly how to use them, when there are so many grownups who never learned to do so. I should understand, especially me, who is so much better on paper, who can’t always get there when I have to say the words out loud instead of typing them.

Three is wonderfully funny and fiercely loving. There is desperation in your little fingers when you cling to me when I try to crawl out of your bed at night to head to my own. You are tenacious, wanting and needing me to hold you, to let you sit on my back piggyback style as I go about my business. At least, as much as I possibly can go about my business with a three year old cutting off my supply of oxygen. I have been told I shouldn’t let you. I have been told I should really make you sit in your own seat to eat and not in my lap, grabbing my hair with your food-stained fingers. And I know. I know that I shouldn’t but then I think, but next year, he may not want me this ferociously. Someday, all too soon, you will be a big boy and I will miss those days that I couldn’t eat without you wiggling on my lap. And my confession is that there is desperation for me too, when I kiss you goodnight and leave you. My grip is tenacious, too, little one, because I know you will want it less and less the older you are.

You already tell me now that you are a grown up. You tell me this when it is time to get in your car seat and when I try to make you do any of the things you deem fit for babies only. “But moooommmeeee,” you protest. “I am a GROWNUP!” Oh, my love, you are so grown up in so many ways, so let’s hold on to those things that make you my baby for as long as we can. Let’s make tents with the sheets, and pretend, and play, and read, and laugh until we can’t breathe.

In the meantime, I’m going to collect these moments, these memories, so I never forget. I wish there was a way to record each and every one of them. I want to write volumes – an entire encyclopedia set’s worth of memories. Except I don’t want them to sit and get dusty like encyclopedias tend to do. I want them to be well read and loved, with cracked spines and worn pages. I want them to be your favorite books, the ones you’ll read until you are quite an old man. I won’t be able to write as much as I want. If I did, I would spend so much time writing about you, I wouldn’t really experience you, so I’ll settle for something in between.

I want to remember that you say “sher” instead of she or her. That you get upset when I tell you I love you because YOU want to love ME, so I tell you that the great and awesome thing about love is that we can love each other infinite amounts. And, now, when I reluctantly drop you off at the baby sitter’s every morning, you say, “We both can love each other.” And I turn into a little puddle on the floor because that is the sweetest thing my ears have ever heard. You still ask, “Mommy, can I hold you?” when you want me to pick you up. You are loving and kind. You helped me shoo a grasshopper out of the house last night for 10 minutes, telling him the whole way, “I KNOW you can do it, grasshopper!” You love our dogs, and you love to be silly. You are still a little question mark to me in many ways, and I have a feeling that won’t change with three or four or maybe ever. But I wouldn’t change it all, any of it, for the world. Even the moments I worry, or feel frustrated. Not one single moment. Well, maybe the one where you accidentally slammed a hand weight down on my ankle the other night, but other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing. Keep challenging me, my little man, and please keep asking me to snuggle with you, to kiss you good night, and please keep reminding me that we both can love each other. We can. We do. And I am so, so lucky because of it. 

The eagle has landed … or is dead in the backyard

So, a couple of nights ago, a little after 4 a.m., Vaught woke up. This is pretty rare so I assumed illness, nightmare, a tiny Jake or one of his Neverland Pirate sidekicks painfully poking into his fleshy little knee, something. He didn’t seem too bothered though – just awake. I didn’t think much about it until he really and truly woke up for the day and started telling me, in confusing detail, about the eagle that landed on his bed and eventually came to rest on my shoulder. Now, I know it was 4 a.m., and I was a little groggy, but I think I would remember if a large bird of prey was anywhere on my person.

His story sounded a little like something like this. Which makes sense to me. I am a PR person. This just sounds like a crisis communications meeting to me. We’ve come up with far crazier scenarios and have written press statements for them. Anyway, I did my best to reassure him that I am pretty sure none of that ever happened, but here’s where my logic was woefully flawed – I was trying to reason with a two-year old. Reason with a two-year old. Still, it seemed like a fantastic story he was enjoying telling so I wasn’t concerned. Until that night at bedtime, which is typically full of snuggly reading and rocking, was suddenly an all out battle against the tainted bird bed. He insisted an eagle was IN HIS BED, and he was not, repeat, NOT going to get in that bed. He basically told me to sell my crazy somewhere else because there was clearly a terrifying taloned fowl in his crib and that I was blind not to see.

I determined that the best plan of action was to explain it was all a dream, there was no bird in his bed and hey, look at that, your pals Bullseye and Mickey are the only things in there. No eagles, not even a tiny little sparrow. He seemed to buy it for a few minutes but, for the next hour, he fought, he cried, he insisted he wasn’t getting anywhere near that crib so just give up the fight, mommy lady.

After several tries, I tagged Neil. He rocked, he reasoned, he took everything out of the bed to remove any doubt that an eagle could maybe be hiding under his pillow pet. Still, no dice. I was listening from the living room, trying to think of what we could do and trying to determine if this was true fear or clever two-year old manipulation. I decided that it was fear and was debating maybe going into his room to shoo the imaginary bird out of the real window, mentally weighing the psychological ramifications of that decision. Would shooing the eagle out make him think there actually was an eagle? Would he think another eagle could get in? I even briefly considered pretending I was stomping the bird like I would a bug, but I couldn’t bring myself to really consider birdicide as an option. It’s an eagle. An endangered animal. And, I mean, America. It was about that time that I heard Neil say, “There’s no eagle, buddy. Daddy took care of it for you. I took it out back and shot it.” Vaught’s response? “Okay. Night night, Daddy.” And he  peacefully drifted off to a birdless slumber. I, however, am considering talking to a professional about my inner conflict about ridding my home of imaginary animals.

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