HEY! New mothers! Stop showing us pictures of your “Before Kids” and “After Kids” body. It’s bad enough that I get on Facebook and see my friends going to GooGoo Dolls concerts, wandering the streets of Amsterdam and scuba diving in the Galapagos after I just got done googling “When will season 6 of Veep be out?” During my morning Facebook session I take an “ARE YOU A CHILD OF THE 70’s QUIZ” and pass with flying colors, then continue scrolling down to the Free People ads and then— there you are! And I’m not sure what you are trying to accomplish? Should we feel sorry for you because you have a little stretch mark on your otherwise unblemished tummy? Yes, that is sad, but look on the bright side, YOU HAVE A BABY! A GORGEOUS TINY LIVING BREATHING PERSON! in your life now. So, you know, there’s that.
I know, I know. You want to show us your “battle” scars. The thing is I am now in my mid 50’s and I have raised four kids and I need to tell you this… YOU HAVE NOT YET BEGUN TO BATTLE. Right now, you’re like a kid in high school, standing in front of a recruiting station, thinking maybe he will join the Army and see the world for a few years instead of enrolling in ITT Tech. That’s how far away you are from REAL battle right now.
Perhaps an example of a real battle is a 3 hour plane ride with an infant who’s GI track just realized “You know what? I don’t think organic creamed spinach agrees with us.” On my first plane ride with my adorable six month old baby enroute to Orlando to introduce her to Aunt Judy and Uncle Irwin, this fact became abundantly clear to me and my two well dressed seatmates. The three of us were covered in green sludge, spewing from her diaper with such force that I got slightly hysterical. “There’s something wrong with my baby!” I shouted to the flight attendant, holding her out arms length in the aisle, like, “Here! Take this!”
“I’m sorry maam, you have to remain seated until the pilot turns off the seatbelt signs,” she said and looked disdainfully at my crying daughter and then disgustingly at my white blouse that I was so excited about wearing, literally the first shirt I had worn in 6 months that wasn’t made for popping out a boob when someone got hungry. Now it was stuck to my chest with green colored goo. Yes, that was some battle. But we both lived through it. Battle won.
The battles get more intense as the child ages. You may be asked by your child’s Kindergarten teacher, as I was, to “Come in for a quick chat.” I was not sure what to expect. Perhaps my five year old has shown himself to be THAT special child? The one who goes to college at age 11 and becomes a world reknown oncologist and then wins a Nobel Peace Prize for developing a tiny pill that can cure Ebola, Zika virus and male pattern baldness? Of course it was apparent to me from the very beginning that the child was a genius, but am I ready to release him into the world? And yet, can I really keep him to myself knowing that he may hold the ticket to the end of disease and suffering? A quandry for sure.
I entered the field of battle hopeful, calm, knowing something great was about to befall me. I squeezed myself into a bright red Little Tykes chair, which quite frankly, was a battle in itself. I made the first advance, “So, tell me! What is happening with my son?
Expecting her to say “We think he needs to move up to a middle school level,” you can imagine my surprise when she said, “We think J may need to go down to the fours. He’s having trouble using his scissors.”
Of course I panicked. What to do? Get him tested! Get him examined! Is there something going on at home? Is he perhaps anxious about something? Did he get some weird scissor gene that has to be passed from both parents and is seen in one in a million kids? Maybe he needs medication? Therapy? Does he need some kind of therapy? Help us! Please help our child!
I went home hysterical and told my then husband what I had learned. “What a bunch of horseshit” he said. And this time he was right. That son graduated college last Spring and has a great job writing code and making up apps and doing shit I have no idea what he’s talking about. Now yes, I do have to help him wrap gifts at Christmas time, but other than that, he seems to be able to function okay in society. So, I’m saying, battle won.
Eventually, battles will lead to all out wars. A war begins with a phone call at 2 am when you have been pacing around like a caged cheetah and the sound of that ring nearly brings you to your knees. A war will start with, “Mrs. Koko? This is Sergeant Smith of the St. Pete Police Department…” and before he can say another word you will begin screaming, “Is he okay? Is he okay? Please! Please! Tell me he’s okay!”And IF you’re lucky that phone call will lead to a little weed in his pocket and the loss of driving priviledges until he leaves for college. And if you’re not lucky, well..I can’t event think about it. It is too hard to even write it.
Then there is the war you wage against yourself. One day you will realize that you are a grown adult who literally hates an 11 year old child. For instance, one Friday when my daughter was in 6th grade, I pulled up to school at pick up time and saw a gaggle of girls standing in a circle, Lisa Frank backpacks at their feet bulging with Limited Too pajamas, fuzzy pink pillows, slippers with bunny ears. I saw my daughter standing at the edge of that circle, half in, half out, trying to be part of the group. A red Volvo pulled up, the group leader, Veronica’s mom of course, and they all piled in heading to her Friday night sleep over, leaving my daughter standing there alone as they drove off waving. I will never forget seeing her little skinny legs all alone on that pavement, as she looked down the carpool line for my car. And you know what? I hated Veronica then. HATED. And you know what? I saw her a few years back in the mall with a little baby of her own and you know what? I STILL HATED HER. So, yes, I deal with that, I don’t really see that changing, I mean therapy can only do so much.
So, as I said, compared to actually raising your child, pushing him/her into the world is a walk in the park. The one thing I don’t need to tell you is that as soon as you heard that first cry, your world is changed forever, no matter how old you get to be. One day you will be 65 and your child will be 40 and you will wake up in the morning like you do everyday and the first thing you will think is WHERE IS MY CHILD? HOW IS MY CHILD? IS MY CHILD HAPPY? IS MY CHILD SUFFERING? And basically if your child is in a bad place or is unhappy in any way, well..your day is shot to hell.
So get ready because as we all know, “War is hell,” yet, of course in this case so worth it. So utterly, completely, life alteringly worth it.