Thursday, August 9, 2012

Before

What cherubs they are.

Life changes after kids.  It all happens so fast that you don’t really get a chance to realize it, and one day you turn around and you wonder what life was like Before, and you can’t imagine it.  It’s just like trying to remember life without color TV, or when you could buy jeans that covered your whole rear when you sit down.  You remember it was, but the reality of it eludes you, unless you sit down and try to reconstruct that life in your mind.

I employ discouragement to people who want kids to have them because they are “fun,” “cute,” “sweet,” and “loving.”  Certainly children may display these characteristics, but they also show other unsavory traits like narcissism, selfishness, meanness, and tiresomeness, among others, at most times.  You will have to deal with these difficult people daily, and in return, you may feel hopeless, helpless, and tired, and this will change you.  In big ways.

Before I had kids, I was confident.  Now I believe I’d mess up a conversation with a drunken Thai hooker.  My waning confidence is in response to years of double guessing my parenting decisions because of what has failed miserably in practice and what all the parenting books tell me I’m doing wrong.  Which is pretty much everything.

Before I had kids, I was youthful and gorgeous.  I was.  Now I’m a little stretched out.  Worn and dry skin replaced the pinkish elasticized miracle that covered every speck of my body.  My teeth were white, my hair shone, and I had a light in my eyes that I haven’t seen since 2001.  Now my hair is graying, and not in a gorgeous Stacy London stripe way.  Before you say, “well, that’s just aging,” it is NOT.  I see childless people who are my age and older, and they look exactly like I did before I became pregnant.  Exactly.

I was ready for everything.  Now, I’m ready for nothing.  Really.  I leave the house for anything 5 minutes after I should have been there.  That’s okay only because I don’t go anywhere that it’s crucial to be on time.  No one at the grocery store stops you and says you can’t buy ham because you were supposed to be there an hour ago.

Laundry could be done in one day.  After children, this notion is a complete fantasy.  Likewise for a clean house.  My bathrooms haven’t been all clean at the same time since the late ‘90’s.  And two months ago, when we got a new range, I found a baby toy under the old one.  Let me do the math for you: that’s like ten years of not cleaning under the stove.  Go ahead.  Judge my dirt.  I already have.

I wasn’t afraid of much.  I could go out at any hour of any day, put myself into questionable situations, and walk against traffic on the wrong side of the road without fear.  Now, an unfamiliar vehicle cruises through the neighborhood and I lock my doors and hide in the back for fear that it contains a terrorist or child-snatcher, or worse, a college kid selling magazines.

I didn’t get mad about stupid things.  Before, rugs were dirty and I washed them.  Drinks got spilled and I cleaned them up.  Now, two TVs are on in the house at the same time and I flip out because of the noise.  Each instance of spilled milk results in at least one person crying.  On the upside, I no longer get upset when things get broken, but is it really an improvement to have a house full of broken junk?

Despite all this life change, I love my kids.  They are loving, fun, cute, and sweet.  I would not trade them in or give them away, or even sell them to the highest bidder.  They are often my cheerleaders, and they show me love when I am at my most unlovable.  They teach me things I never thought about learning, and they are forgiving.  They are my peeps.

It’s true that I can’t imagine life without them, and this is not such a bad thing. 

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