I’ll never forget the first time I told my husband that I had to go “pee pee in the potty.” I think that I actually smacked my own forehead in disbelief. (Now I say it to be ridiculous, on purpose, but I should probably stop.) I actually have said it to clients. The crumbling of my adult relationships in the face of being a part-time stay-at-home mother sort of crept up on me, since I am the single most stubborn human being on the face of this earth. No lie. Ask John. I had been desperately trying to maintain some sense of a separate identity within the new kid/adult dynamic in the house. But dude, it is freaking hard. You should understand that, when I say that, I don’t mean I was still trying to stay up past 10 pm or have sex with my husband every night or anything, I’m just saying that I tried to at least still watch Oprah every day. It’s the little things, people.
But there were the small shifts in our identities that began to happen. Cracks in the foundation. Referring to one another, even after the children have left the room as “Mama” or “Papa,” for example. No one has called me Sarah in like, 4 years. And I can assure you that nothing kills the romance faster than accidentally referring to your husband as “little chicken” or “bubbies,” two nicknames I have for the children. We talk about poop like most people discuss what’s for dinner. I think that dating a guy that drinks his own urine helped me in this area (yeah, Thor). Now I have kids that ask to see their poop and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if the next step has them asking to eat it. Seriously. And you know what? Motherhood is so ripe with inner conflict that there is a slim possibility that I would consider letting them. I can just hear the inner dialogue now: “Well, it is organic. And part of their own body . . . but it’s a little gross. If anyone ever found out they would totally call CPS. But we could discuss the digestive system and it would be a great segue to . . .” You get the picture.
Even when we get the kids to sleep we stay up and talk about the kids. It’s like a virus we can’t shake. I know more about dinosaurs and prehistoric beasts than you know about well, pretty much anything. I can change a diaper while my kid is standing, pack a cooler in 3.7 seconds, and write a blog post while making dinner, doing the dishes, and giving Luca a pony ride on my foot. I have to answer questions like, “Mama? Why is your vagina fuzzy?” or real brain teasers like, “Mama? Where do seeds come from?” Today Rowan literally asked me which came first: the seed or the grape? I have to Google his questions at least 10 times a week so that I give him the right answer, because although I am 36 years old, I seriously am stumped by my four-year old.
When John comes home from work I find it difficult to even speak. I have to go through a sort of adult to adult conversion, like an upgrade from Windows 7 to Vista. It’s bizarre, and I used to feel like I should apologize for it, but now it has become almost normal. All day I say things like “Don’t touch your brother’s penis,” which has been amended to “don’t touch your brother’s penis while he is peeing!” Or “please don’t sit on my head!” “don’t put that plastic bag over your head!” and “please stop touching me!” which I actually say a lot. So when John gets home I am just stumped. He is sweet about it but I wonder if he thinks the kids are dumbing me down. Now that I think about it, with all the Googling I am doing, Rowan will probably turn me into a genius by the time I’m 40. An antisocial, blubbering genius.
What is amazing to me is that I (among others, I hope) thought that I was prepared for motherhood. I had been a nanny (though not a live-in one), I have a little sister by 16 years and was home for the first 2 years of her life, I babysat, I volunteered in the toddler room of a pre-school . . . you get the picture. I see now that there is no way to intellectualize what it means to be a mother. I still don’t know, since I can only reflect on 4 years of being a mother, and I know there are many more years to come. If someone asked me to describe it, I couldn’t. I once lamely described motherhood, for me, as being like running a marathon, at my current weight (which, although I am a dreamboat, is NOT marathon-running weight), naked, in the rain, while spinning plates and having a variety of sharp implements thrown at me. Four years later I stand by that, but it still doesn’t cover it. It is an experience to be had. Or, um, not to be had. I’m not entirely sure I can recommend it. If I could clone my children and give the clones to you, I would consider giving it maybe, three and a half out of four stars. And, people! Be careful who you have children with. I’m bolding and italicizing that—that’s how important it is. If you think you are going to pop out a kid that will be just like you while also maintaining your current lifestyle you are seriously fucked.
Well, that felt good to say! And I meant it.
Slowly John and I are regaining some small adult aspects to our lives. No one sleeps in our room anymore (at least not before 3 am), and while you may immediately think that we couldn’t wait to ravish each other, what we had really missed was being able to be with each other without feeling needed by anyone else. We no longer high-five each other before turning out the lights for bed. Being able to speak to one another above a whisper has been a nice change too. I’m pretty sure that both of my kids like to rock, so I’m not listening to that horrible Raffi guy. Both kids can walk, so my low back is in the recovery phase. My boobs are . . . well, my boobs now that the nursing is done. I can look into the future and see things that were impossible to see when I was only getting three hours of sleep a night. Back then, all I saw was myself, on the roof, with a hand grenade. I’m a little more stable now. And I suppose, if all goes well and I don’t feel like someone has punched me in the face a million times by bedtime tonight, I may just have sex (don’t worry, my tubes are tied) with my husband. Who I will never call “little chicken” again.