Birth Control? Yes, Please
I should have been on the beach with my kids, building sand castles and frolicking in the ocean. (Okay, yelling at them to stop eating sand and getting sunburned.) I should have been packing a picnic to enjoy in one of hundreds of parks in the Charleston area, a picnic my children would have totally ignored while they cried for another child’s Happy Meal, but still. I should have been at our neighborhood pool, providing first aid the teenage lifeguards were incapable of rendering themselves while praying one of my children didn’t poop in the pool. I should have been anywhere but where I was—sitting on the toilet doubled over with stomach cramps.
I was eleven weeks pregnant and, ahem, a little backed up.
I was stuck on the toilet as my four-year-old and two-year-old had free rein of the house. The amount of destruction Aubrey and Emma are capable of under adult supervision is astounding, but I was going to be here for a while, and they were running rampant through my house. I was so consumed with my stomach cramps that I didn’t even have time to be properly terrified at what was probably going on in the next room.
My legs were just starting to go numb from loss of circulation from sitting on the toilet seat for so long when Aubrey, my oldest, came running into the bathroom.
“Momma, what are you doing?”
“I’m trying to go potty, Aubrey.”
“Ohhhhh, it’s taking a long time, huh, Momma?”
“Yes, it is.”
“Do you need help, Momma?”
“No, honey…” I trailed off as another wave of stomach cramps and nausea swept over me. Aubrey saw my pain as an open door and yelled, “Mommy, can I have some candy?”
“If you can reach it in the pantry you can have whatever you want.”
She ran out of the room as fast as her little feet would carry her, before I could change my mind, and I heard her yell to her sister, “Momma said we could have candy! Come on, Emma!”
What the hell had I been thinking when I decided to have another baby? It always seemed like a good idea until the nausea hit, which for me usually starts the day I pee on a stick and continues twenty-four hours a day until I hit the thirteen-week mark. My morning sickness had gotten progressively worse with each of my pregnancies. And now, I was pregnant, in charge of two toddlers, and even the slightest movement made me want to barf up my toenails. My husband was at work, all of my family was a good ten-hour drive away, and since we had recently moved again, I didn’t have a single friend I could call. Not one I could discuss my bowel habits with, anyway.
I had never dealt with this particular pregnancy symptom before, and I was at a loss. I had tried everything I knew to do as a nurse … drinking fluids, eating prunes, taking stool softeners. I knew what the next step was, and I was horrified. My husband and I have been through a lot together, but we are definitely a “poop with the door closed” kind of couple.
This pregnancy had brought me to a new low. I yelled from my throne for one of the girls to bring me the phone and dialed my husband’s number.
“Hey! ’Sup?” he asked cheerfully.
I started sobbing as I uttered words I never thought I would say to the man I love. “I need you to bring me an enema.”
I couldn’t believe I had actually said the words out loud. But there was no way I could load two kids into car seats and wrangle them through a pharmacy to purchase what I needed. I waited in the bathroom while Aubrey and Emma sat on the edge of the bathtub eating Pop-Tarts and staring at me doubled over on the toilet.
I heard Zeb’s car pull in the driveway and almost cried again when he opened the bathroom door with a bag from our drugstore in his hand.
“Do you need some help?” he asked.
“Yes, take your kids and let me be sick by myself. And please, please don’t ever get me pregnant again,” I said. I snatched the bag out of his hand, pushed all three of my family members out of the bathroom, and locked the door behind them.
There are a lot of things I said I would never do when I had kids. I swore I would never say, “Because I said so,” “Don’t you make me pull this car over!” or “You just wait until your daddy gets home!” I would never “let myself go,” have petrified French fries on the floor of my car, or wear pajama pants to the grocery store, and I would never, ever drive a minivan. The only one of those things I’ve stuck to is not driving the minivan, but it’s not by choice. I fantasize about my own minivan on a daily basis, complete with automatic sliding doors, enough cargo space to haul a dead body (you never know, right?), and stale fries on the floor.
I used to think I wanted four kids. This was, of course, before I had one and realized how much work was involved. I was convinced at eighteen years old that I would have four perfect little stair-steps, all exactly two years apart; two boys and two girls. (And, yes, I was a little type A.)
I heard people talk about how hard it was to be a parent, but I babysat all the time. Being a babysitter and being a mom are practically the same thing, right?
I thought I knew. I had no idea. The thing you can’t explain to someone who doesn’t have children is how constant being a parent actually is. It is more than twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week … if that’s even possible.
Children, toddlers especially, have boundless energy with which they can torture their parents. Hell, if all I had to do all day was color, watch Blue’s Clues, eat a snack, and nap, I’d have boundless energy, too. But, no, I am the one getting out the crayons, trying to keep my children from consuming crayons, picking up broken crayons, and putting away the crayons. (And while I’m on the subject, why don’t those folks at Crayola either add some vitamins and minerals to their product or make them taste bad? My kids love eating them, and I’m tired of telling them no and having to buy more. Put up or shut up, Crayola. Fortify them or make them taste bad. This isn’t rocket science.)
Unless you want your children to be completely stinking rotten, not only do you have to tell them no on a regular basis, you have to mean it and to be ready and willing to back it up. All the energy they conserve while napping, snacking, and playing is ammunition to defeat us, their parents, who have been busy behind the scenes keeping the house from falling apart. Even though you are exhausted, you have to win. Once you have thrown down the gauntlet and made a rule, if your child breaks it 200 times in one day, you have to correct them 201 times.
Now, I’ll be the first one to admit to occasionally ignoring bad behavior. If my two oldest are in another room, making a mess without cleaning up one they have already made, and I am actually getting something done, such as cooking dinner or doing laundry, I may have occasionally pretended I couldn’t hear them so I could finish the task at hand and dealt with their bad behavior after I was finished. You say, “Lazy parenting.” I say, “Priorities, priorities, priorities.”
I do deal with the behavior. I just act shocked when I walk into their room, like I didn’t realize what was going on. I also recognize that I can’t keep this up forever because they will eventually figure it out. But for now, a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.
And have you ever attempted reasoning with a toddler? Even explaining to them why their behavior is wrong can be exhausting.
“But why, Momma? But why?”
I have tried and tried and tried to be patient, to be an attentive parent, to answer each “why” with love and long suffering … to avoid the phrase I detested so much as a child: “Because I said so.”
“GIRLS! Quit jumping on the bed!”
“Why, Mommy, why?”
“Because it’s dangerous.”
“Why, Mommy, why?”
“Because you could fall and break your arm or your neck or impale yourself on the posts sticking up out of the footboard…”
“Why, Mommy, why?”
“Because you are jumping on the bed…”
“Why, Mommy, why?”
“Because you are being bad. Stop. Jumping. On. The. Bed.”
“Why, Mommy, why?”
“BECAUSE I SAID SO.”
It’s unfortunate, but it really is the only phrase that can stop one of these maddening conversations in its tracks.
Another thing I knew nothing about was the selective hearing children seem to experience as they enter their preschool years. Anything you say to another adult (especially regarding another adult) can be repeated verbatim by your children. Anything you say directly to your child must automatically be repeated—at least twice.
“Emma, stop unrolling the toilet paper all over the bathroom,” I’ll say clearly, standing less than fourteen inches away from her.
“HUH? What you said, Momma?” she’ll ask with one hand cupped around her ear and leaning in … as if she actually cannot hear me.
Their selective hearing will often lead to my wondering if I actually spoke out loud or if I was just really concentrating on what I was going to say.
“Test one, two … testing … is this thing on?” I’ll say as I pretend to check a microphone, which usually leads to zero response from anyone in my house and occasionally makes me think that they really can hear, but I apparently don’t know how to make words come out of my mouth.
I just didn’t realize B.C. (Before Children) how much work it takes to maintain some sort of order in your house. You are constantly cleaning, battling ...