When I was first pregnant I prepared for my baby like I was preparing for war.
I’d spent years listening to my friends swap stories of the many hats they wore as parents. They were dieticians, therapists, clowns, body guards, haz mat clean up crews, doctors, hostage negotiaters and professional cheerleaders. They became engineers – figuring out how to clean up a massive diaper blowout using only a piece of straw paper. Bodyguards – forever prepared to protect their child from whatever dangers lurked on the playground. As long as said danger was smaller and weaker, obviously.
For the most part, everything went according to plan for me and my crisis preparations paid off. I’ve engineered a diaper out of a sock; I do scissor kicks and sing a rousing cheer every morning as they make their beds. However, there were a few jobs that weren’t even close to being on my radar, that I’m still struggling to master.
A couple of years ago, when my eldest daughter was two, she woke up from her nap talking about the blue lady that lived on her ceiling fan. When my husband returned home from work that night he asked why I had moved all of our furniture and clothing into a tent in the front yard and was pouring gasoline onto the driveway.
When it comes to anything scary I’m a huge weenie. Except if it’s daylight and other people are around. Then I find scary stuff extremely fascinating. These movies and shows then proceed to fester in my brain and form ammunition that will torture me with images of creatures throughout the night. I’m thirty seven years old and I still run up the basement stairs like someone lit my ass on fire because I know one of these times I’m going to turn around and there will be a werewolf on my tail. Some people sleep with pistols under their bed – I have a shaman under there. I can’t even watch E.T. without having night terrors.
But now that I’m the “Mom” I am the brave one by default. One of my kids wakes up in the night and I have to put on my big girl pants, walk (sprint) through a dark hallway, past dark rooms that are probably filled with scary stuff that I can’t even imagine, into their room to see what is the matter, fully expecting the rocking chair to be going full force while they levitate. Then, if things are really bad, I have to walk down the stairs through the dark house into the kitchen to get the Tylenol. And don’t even get me started on what it’s like to bring the recycle bin inside after dark.
I have become the epitome of bravery at its finest.
I’m not afraid of bugs and spiders, though I don’t find joy in the idea of curling up and spooning with them in front of a roaring fire on a cold winter’s night. Fortunately (or not) my kids share in my tolerance for things that live in the dirt. They also have been begging for a pet. You do the math.
Once I found a colony of roly polys on my bathroom floor. They all had names. My little ones have smuggled ants, beetles, fireflies, lady bugs and a dead moth inside our home.
A while back I walked around the corner to find this monster in the entryway and the kids were heartbroken that we couldn’t keep it.
I had to go outside and find a stick to pick it up and throw it out the front door and I swear to god it hissed at me. I still haven’t shaken the heebies.
Nothing will make you Google your state’s respective position on child abandonment faster than walking out of the grocery store to see a monsoon has appeared out of thin air. Maybe they’ll be like cats and eventually find their way home as you scream “Save yourselves!” and run for the mini van?
Of course it was sunny and clear when you walked in, making you wonder exactly how much time you spent inside. The kids are at their wits end, you’re out of animal crackers and against every fiber in your being you make a break for it.
Finally at your vehicle, your precious cargo takes precedence getting into the van while you continue to get soaked to the bone. Once the 18 double roll of toilet paper is safely in the trunk, you then get your kids in as quickly as possible. They stand there watching you, warm and dry, as lightning strikes inches from your face and a blast of thunder takes three years off your life. Your hand goes numb from lifting 18 grocery bags at a time to try to save five seconds.
The groceries are in and yet your kids have no regard for the work you put into your hair and make-up that morning as they continue to fight about who gets the front car seat and who gets to hold the bottle of Midol while you scream threats you know you’ll never make good.
And, despite my fellow Mom friends nodding and commiserating with my story about why I am dripping wet at play group, none of them looks like a startled rat.
Feel free to share your own jobs that took you by surprise, or reassure me that there are no werewolves in my basement.