Thoughts on motherhood and those darling parasites we call “Human Babies”

No, this isn’t going to be controversial. It’s actually probably going to be a little sentimental for my usual flavor, but since my blog seems to be moving in that general direction anyway, bear with me.

I have seven brothers. Six of them are younger than me. Living with them until you’re 22 means a lot of childcare, particularly in the various households we’ve lived under (divorce, custody battles, change of parenting, etc. We’ve done it all).

So there was a significant period of time, particularly from about 18 to 22, where I was pretty sure I didn’t want kids. I was ready to launch off on my own and stop, stop, stop changing diapers, making dinner, picking up socks, making sure everyone was dressed and ready on time, arranging family pictures, sweeping floors of incessant hair and dirt (Lois scrapped that last idea prematurely). God dammit. I was so ready to be on my own. 

So then I left Utah: by and far the best decision I’ve ever made. It’s been over a year and a half, and in some ways I’m lightyears away from the person I was when I first arrived in Chicago. I’m more confidant; less angry; less stressed; more happy. I’ve spent a lot of time fine-tuning my sense of humor, and improving my writing style. I’ve read countless books by new authors and perused all of my favorites. I’ve spent copious amounts of time alone, realized my fingers ache without a piano, fallen in love, and actually spent time missing Utah. I’ve found out all these nifty things about myself and become comfortably comfortable with my family, my past, who I am now, and who I am turning into. 

And who am I turning into? Well, the jury will probably always be out on certain parts of who I am, but I do know a few things with pretty firm certainty. After nearly a year spent in the banking industry, where one is expected to compete, rise through the workforce, and eventually settle into a comfortable position, I realized that being a career-driven 9-to-5er is so not in my bones. Competing against coworkers, teamworking with coworkers, doing what for me is the mundane day-in-and-day-out of office work was nothing less than mental torture. I’ve overcome the idea that working in the restaurant industry is sub-par, and realized that out of all the jobs I’ve had, it’s the one I enjoy the most–particularly in a small, non-corporate entity with invested coworkers, like where I am now. I’ve discovered my introverted tendencies are increasing, and that I need less and less time with friends, that I crave the cherished one-on-one conversations that happen maybe once every month or so. I’ve realized I love Chicago, but I won’t stay out here forever because being around my family is more important to me than anything in the world, and I actually miss the mountain ranges and big open spaces of the west. 

All these things are important, but the biggest change of all has really come about in the last year or so. As I visited libraries, museums, zoos, and parks on my own, I found my inner monologue taking a weird twist–“Hey, look,” I’d say to myself. “That rhinocerous is looking right at us! He has three huge toes!” or, “What do you think we should read next?” or “This is a really strange bug, huh?” I’d be laying in bed on a rainy Sunday morning and imagine a faint pitter-patter of little feet come running down the hall, or the noise of springs popping up and down as a chubby body bounced in bed, letting everyone know “I’M AWAKE! COME GET ME!” Little dudes running around the grocery store caught my rapt attention and earned a goofy smile. Moms pinching their kids in public for misbehaving stimulated an immediate thought salad of, “When I have kids, I will never pinch them. What a fucker.” And then, “My kids will totally say ‘fucker’ on their first day of school.” And then, “Fuck it, my little fuckers will be homeschooled or private schooled because public schools here suck and don’t let you say fucker whenever it’s appropriate.” And then, “No, I won’t use the f-word around my kids or anyone else’s.”

Many–actually, I’d say most–of my high school friends are mommies or planning on becoming mommies soon. I’ve also met a large group of friends here who don’t want kids, and will never have them. I was torn between shedding my prickish opinion of girlfriends who had kids “too early”, and curiosity about what life would be like without kids at all (in honesty, I still am–isn’t any childless individual?). But then, last Christmas Eve, my whole family was around the dinner table and my older brother Sam, and sister-in-law Brook, made an announcement that made my Dad cry and all the rest of us shriek with joy: Grandkid #1. Aris, 17, immediately dubbed the child of unknown sex “Shagnu,” and even though now Shagnu is actually Claire, and Claire is beautiful and perfect and a month and a half old already, we still call her Shagnu because we’re so unbelievably excited to have a baby around again (you can see pictures and read Brooke’s fun blog here).

And I watched Sam and Brooke over the next few months, and I watched my Dad and my other brothers, and I watched my little Lizard heart pretty closely, I thought, Man. That’s really cool. I want that. And when Brooke decided she was going to stay home with Shagnu for the next few years because she didn’t want to miss a moment of her quickly-growing baby, I thought, Man. That is really, really cool. I want that, too. 

And so my magnetic draw to the kids’ section in Barnes and Noble started to make sense. All the books I’ve been saving up for years and years and never could throw away–Dr. Seuss classics, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Little House on the Prairie–started to make sense. My inability to endure the corporate climb, the craving of bedtime snuggles from a warm little body, the draw to make my house full of music and flowers and art and good food–Well, I that’s it. I want kids. 

I want have kids, and I want to be home with those kids, because home is where I like to be. Home is where I do my writing, where I play my piano, where I make dinner and where I come after a day of being around crowds wears me thin. Home is where my good dog is, where my good books are, where NPR plays and dishes clatter and keyboards click. 

Don’t think I think mommyhood is a bed a roses, or that I’m in a particular hurry to get there. I’m fully aware of sleepless nights, of saggy boobs, of neon diarrhea that shoots up the back of the onesie and requires a Hazmat team to clear up. I know that I’m not there yet. But it’s cool to think about, and gives me a interesting take on life direction. Who you date, how to save, what you do with your body–these and a million other things, all seen differently through the lens of prospective motherhood. It’s weird and scary and super nifty. 

And I hope it’s coming my way. Time to find a good therapist.