It’s February in the Midwest and a lot of us got a taste of the 60’s this weekend (Fahrenheit, not the era). Yesterday, my husband, daughter, and I had the same idea that everyone else in Michigan did – we had to get outside. Patios were overflowing with the childless. I happen to live in a very “hip” suburb; the ombre is plentiful, the flannels are authentic, and the tattoos are visible. If you venture north a few miles you’ll encounter a different kind of aspirational: matte lipstick, thigh gaps, and very expensive yoga leggings that actually spend time on a mat. And to the south is Detroit, which is so hot right now I don’t even cast eyes in that direction.
Most of the time I forget I’ve fallen behind, I’ve settled into my version of adulthood, and the other hood that came along with it. But then there are 65-degree days in February and the childless are out. They’re day drinking, which will likely transition into night drinking. Or a nap. I get very wistful about my youth whenever I’m reminded that there are people who can check out of life in the middle of the afternoon. I was stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, gaping at someone’s bloody mary, when my daughter’s whine brought me back to reality. A reality I wanted a day pass from.
I’ve noticed this habit of mothers where we feel compelled to say, “…but they’re SO worth it” anytime we imply that life is difficult, or talk about the challenges of raising humans. (This seems to be an affliction of mothers; men talk trash about their kids with ease and without consequence. Perhaps it’s because they care less about what other people think. Men have humor, we have shame.) Acknowledging the fact that being a parent isn’t that great sometimes doesn’t make you a bad parent; it makes you an honest person.
“He won’t sleep for more than 20 minutes, but he’s SO worth it!” Really? Because that sounds awful… If I remember correctly, from my own experience, it was awful. I love my daughter, and I wouldn’t trade her for a hangover after a Sunday of day drinking. But that doesn’t mean I don’t miss day drinking on a Sunday. Why do we have to apologize for wanting anything else than being a parent and why does being a parent require suffering in silence?
I can tell you, the first thought the stretch marks on my boobs conjure is not “worth it!” I get it; I’m supposed to be body positive. I’m supposed to marvel in the power of the human body. Considering the fact that a glob of cells multiplied and resulted in an 8 pound baby that’s now a 25 pound toddler is incredible. Behold the miracle of life. Can’t it go without saying that if you held my child up next to, well anything, that I would choose her every time? Still not amped on these stretch marks though.
I’ve been trying to run the same errand for 13 weeks. And I was supposed to have a cavity filled two years ago. I miss people’s birthdays, I have 16 unheard voicemails, and people have stopped their courtesy invites. There are popular songs on the radio I haven’t heard and the young people I work with use slang terms I don’t understand.
There was a time when going on a date with my husband required 2 hours of getting ready; sometimes I change into a different grey t-shirt and immediately start calculating the hours of sleep I’ll get if we leave the restaurant right that second and speed. This week I’ll make an obscene amount of food that my child will refuse to eat and I’m going to retrieve at least one thing out of the toilet bowl. None of that is cool. And I’m not going to act like it is. I’m not going to let fear of judgment keep me from stating the obvious.
Kids make life more complicated, more expensive, more stressful, and more exhausting. Kids make life more fun, more worthwhile, and more meaningful.
Both of those statements are true. And I promise I won’t hold it against you if the second doesn’t always immediately follow the first. Parenthood is teaching me that love and anger and selfishness and sacrifice are not mutually exclusive. I’m starting to find peace in this duality. Emotions are allowed to exist, and you don’t have to apologize them away.
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