Reality Versus Reassurance
Granted, it doesn’t happen very often. So when it does, I like to be prepared with the most brilliant, insightful, thrilling, magical answer possible. Naturally.
However, I am completely flummoxed as to how to do this.
I mean, do I tell them what they want to hear-- the rosy, sugar-coated stuff? Or do I tell them the TRUTH?
Take, for instance, my best friend and her husband. Both of them are brilliant, charming, and a hoot and a half to be around. They also happen to be control freaks and terribly fixated on things like “certainty” and “being prepared”.
They want to have kids… someday. It’s just a matter of when. One of them claims to be ready, while other could use some convincing. (Okay, a LOT of convincing.) So when they quiz me about motherhood, I feel like it's my duty to offer them something truly useful.
The last time we saw one another, my best friend’s husband leaned towards me and said, “So, my co-worker told me that it takes him two hours just to go to the grocery store with his kids. Two hours! Can you believe that?”
I could tell by his look of apprehension and baited breath, that what he really wanted to know is, “Can this be true?”
Do I tell him that the birth of a baby marks the end of everything “just” in the world? As in, there’s no such thing as “just running into the store” or “just browsing” anymore.
My trips to the grocery store begin days in advance with hours spent meal planning and drafting lists. I have to know exactly what I need, get it, and get out… and all within the attention span of a 4-year-old.
Once upon a time, I used to be able to remember simple things like “buy pasta”. These days, without a written list in hand, I’m utterly useless.
It doesn’t take much to rattle my concentration. One child starts howling while the other decided to “help” by ramming our cart into a display of Twinkies, and suddenly the only thing I can focus on is leaving.
Screw it if I forgot the sliced turkey and cheese! There’s no way in hell I’m going back in there now. I guess it’s butter sandwiches for us this week!
Do I tell him what drama it is to get the kids dressed to leave the house? It isn’t only about getting them into shirts and shoes. It’s about getting them into the right shirts and shoes…
God forbid if a certain “Batman” tee is coated in strawberry yogurt and in the hamper or we can’t find the orange Crocs ...
“I. Want. To. Wear, THAT,” my son will whine even though no one’s told him otherwise, which means there’s only 3…2…1. Whoops! Too late! Total nuclear meltdown ensues. You fail.
Forty-five minutes later, he will emerge from his room happy as a lark in his footie pajamas and ask if we can get the cookies with the chocolate and mint in the middle when we go to the store.
Do I tell him that once everyone is finally dressed to their liking and we’re making our final decent down the stairs, my daughter will take this opportunity to spit-up all over me, all over herself, and all over the carpet?
At what point does spitting-up constitute throwing-up, anyway? And how long can one get away with having it on one’s shirt while out in public?
Oh, who am I kidding? Of course, I go back upstairs to change everybody’s clothes. Am I ever going to leave this house?
Do I tell him about fielding an endless barrage of questions during the five minute (but feels like forever) journey to Safeway? And, how I never seem to have the answer that satisfies…
“Mommy, where are we going?”
“The grocery store.”
“NO! Where are we going?”
(Sigh) “Where do you want to go?”
“Fine. We’re going to the rodeo.”
“No we’re not. We have to go to the grocery store.”
“And so we are.”
Do I tell him about the time I pulled into the parking lot, raced some dude for the lone spot way in the far back (and won), and actually remembered my wallet, only to turn around and find both kids fast asleep in their car seats?
Do I tell him how, defeated, I just drove back home, transferred both kids to their beds, and ordered a pizza for dinner the second night that week?
Now, I take my best friend and her husband’s questions very seriously. After all, my status as honorary auntie/ “giver of “I-told-you-so” and loud toys” is at stake. It would be in my best interest to avoid mentioning any of this, but how could I lie to my very best friend… and to her face, no less?
In the end, I opted to just snort and exclaim, “Two hours! Oh, that’s not right at all.”
Original Silicon Valley Moms Blog post
To read more fact, not fiction, about parenthood, go to Grace's personal blog at Formerly Gracie. She swears she can't make this stuff up, even if she tried.