Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Big Lie of Omission

So it's not a lie. It's just that people do not tell you the truth. Not the whole truth, anyway. No one, and I mean no one, tells you how hard it is to be a mother.

They do not tell you that should you decide to procreate, you will in fact be signing on for the hardest, most grueling, and most thankless job on the face of the earth.

No one can explain this to you. It is not that they have not tried, it is just that you probably caught them on a day when their kid was good. Their kid had probably not said on that particular day "I want a NEW mommy!" or "Mommy! Be quiet RIGHT NOW! SHHHHHH!"

The fact of the matter is, they could not tell you how hard it is, because there is something inside of all of them - all of the mothers and fathers who came before you - that wants you to suffer right along with them. There is a reason someone came up with the phrase "Misery loves company." It's because it is true.

Also, think how the world would be if every prospective parent knew the real deal? The good thing is that stores would be less crowded. You wouldn't have to change your dinner plans on a Saturday night because you are starving, there's an hour wait, and not even a spot at the bar so that you can forget all about the fact you are starving. The bad thing is that if you are single, you'd have a lot fewer eligibles from which to choose (and it's slim pickin's enough as it is, or so I hear).

No one tells you that even though you survived the days when you had to make sure anything your curious toddler would want to put in their mouth was out of reach without incident, one day at the age of two-and-a-half-plus you'd look up and see their teeth are purple because they decided to try eating a crayon. Or they'd managed to find a yogurt-covered raisin in the couch that is God knows how old but they are munching on it contentedly anyway.

No one can give you a clue, not even Super Nanny herself, about how hard it is to carry a 30-pound, kicking and screaming child from the middle of the mall to the car, as sympathetic parents look on, because they did not get to spend enough time at Play Town. You also do not get briefed on the whole potty training thing, and how much urine you'll be trying to soak out of your carpet, as if you've just brought home a new puppy, and you find yourself wondering how your family room would look if you covered the entire thing with plastic.

The other thing that none of these mothers and fathers can adequately prepare you for is the way you feel as though you have so much love for this new person in your life, you think you need another heart to contain it all. They don't tell you that finally, you will get just how much your own mother loves you.

They have no way of explaining that almost immediately after the kid arrives, everything makes sense. All of your missteps and foul-ups and bad choices and really, really, really bad choices all seem to make sense, because they all brought you to this point in time, the one in which you are getting a big hug and kiss from your kid and hearing them say, "I love you, Mommy." And even if they played a recording for you, you would not be able to understand that hearing their laughter is like being immersed within joy itself, if that is possible.

It's the ultimate paradoxical situation. Nothing will make you feel more like you are losing your mind than being a parent. Nothing will leave you feeling more beaten, battered, and forsaken. But nothing else will give you as much laughter, entertainment, warmth, and fulfillment, either.

I wish I could tell you the truth the right now, to make up for all the people who will not tell you later. But I just can't write it as bad or as good as it really is.


Kimberly Gallagher-Wright said...

...They don't tell you...that when your child pukes in your face, with vomit dripping down...which triggers a chain puking reaction with the other members of your family when they witness this since they are all complete vomit lightweights...and after you have cleaned up yourself, and the other family members...that your sick little one looking up and saying "sowwy, mommy"...makes it all worth it.

Jennifer Moore-Skallerud said...

I love it, Spook!! No, that was definitely not in any of the books I've ever read!