(Knew that title would catch your eye! Patience, we’ll get to the stripping part!)
“Three boisterous boys, then I’ll have my perfect little princess!” was my answer when asked how many children I wanted. After my first baby (a daughter) was born, I denied to everyone that I’d ever said I wanted four children. “FOUR! Are you insane? I swear on my rock-hard breasts and red-rimmed eyes, I never said I wanted FOUR children!”
My daughter was ‘colicky’ or ‘spirited’ or ‘possessed’—pick an adjective; I couldn’t have given a flyin’ f*@k. Where was Rumpelstiltskin when I needed him? I would have promised him my second child for a night’s sleep and a full course meal that did not include instant mashed potatoes or peanut butter.
Sometimes, the only way I could get her to sleep—and do NOT ask me how I figured this out . . . desperation makes you do some crazy-ass shit—was by lying her flat on top of the coffee table while I breastfed her, or placing her on the dryer while it was running. Of course, I had to stand there to make sure she didn’t roll off, so there went my chance for a snooze.
I once attempted to take a walk in the sun and fresh air after I breastfed her and gently . . . careful, careful, oh god, please don’t wake up . . . placed her in the stroller and set off with a naïve smile plastered on my face for a quick once around the block. This felt right, I thought to myself—going for a walk like a normal person. Look at me, walkin’ with my baby. Aw, she is kinda cute, isn’t she? Now, this is my reward for trading my body and identity for a never-ending pile of laundry and a house that looked like the set of The Exorcist. I had read those parenting mags and knew I would eventually feel gaga over the little spud, but I never thought it would take this long. Ah, but what a lovely day!
Halfway around, Mama’s angel woke herself up with a rip-roaring, ear-splitting diarrhea blast that shook the entire stroller. Then it was a race home before the acrid stench burned right through my sleep-deprived retinas. As I jogged along, I realized the appreciative looks from passersby were not for my cute baby girl, or my pregnancy afterglow (that’s a thing, isn’t it?). My shirt was unbuttoned and blowing behind me like a gingham sail, exposing my voluptuous bosom, decked out in a milk-stained cotton maternity brassiere, and my stretch-marked rotund belly. Put that on the cover of your favourite parenting magazine and suck it!
I survived the first few months, as did my little monster, and we grew to care about one another quite a bit. My second baby was a whoopsy (thank goodness), ‘cos I had begun researching the benefits of having a single child. Number two (not his real name) was a boy, and he was a breeze. I would often stop while constructing complicated play dough worlds with my demanding firstborn to wonder where I had left number two, only to run around the house and find him waiting placidly in his car seat in the laundry room for me to come and get him. How could I have ever considered trading him in for a good night’s sleep?
I am thankful every day for my little bundles of joy—even now that they are gigantic teenagers. My brave, high-achieving daughter who still has trouble sleeping, and my hilarious son with the patience of Job and a heart of gold are my pride and joy. As they grow to be independent adults, I often wonder how it’s even possible to love them more with every passing year, but each year seems to give me a different child with more to learn about and appreciate. I don’t miss the explosive diarrhea, but I do sometimes mourn the babies that grew to teens in the blink of an eye.
Cherish every moment, and take time out to laugh and cry . . . you deserve it. #HappyMothersDay