More Ponderous Pontificating on Mommyhood
January 24, 2006
I know! You are so welcome.
(And while I do need to fact check this, I'm writing from the assumption that no one has ever had a baby except for me in the history of the universe.)
Jason and I were having a discussion (over dinner) (in a restaurant) (eating food that we could cook at home, but why, when paying for it is so much fun?) (and also when it inspires the wrath of the U WENT BACK 2 WORK BECAUSE U R A SELFISH WHORE people) (and let's not forget the wine, the delicious delicious wine) about whether or not we feel "different" since Noah was born.
I immediately chimed in with a Raising-Arizona-like "I LOVE HIM SO MU-UU-UCH!" and said that yes, I feel like a completely different person now and my LANDS, the differences, they are many in number, although I can't really think of any right now beyond a heightened tolerance for another human being's bodily fluids.
Jason shrugged and said he didn't feel that different.
And while I went all Precious-Moments-eyeballs on him for a moment, because if he didn't feel different, that must mean he doesn't love Noah, because again, the multitude of differences! Like...there are soggy burp cloths in my Coach bag! THAT'S A LIFE TURNED UPSIDE DOWN, I TELL YOU.
Jason tried to explain, ignoring my weirdness like he has ignored my weirdness for the past eight years now, that while yes, our day-to-day lives are very different, he doesn't feel like he as a person has changed at all. Having Noah hasn't made him a better person who always gives change to homeless people or who has any deep insight into the human condition. It hasn't even changed how fast he drives.
And other than me still not being quite up to par in the seduction department, we as a couple haven't changed much either. We still talk about non-Noah things, like the pets and our jobs and people who bug us and man, a vacation would be nice soon but man, this thing at work, like, man, it's probably going to kill me dead. Please pour me another glass of wine.
(Yes, we've always been this exciting. And eloquent!)
Jason summed up his feelings: Now we have Noah. He is here and we need to take care of him, but taking care of him is fun, so therefore Noah makes our lives more fun and wow, so glad we finally got knocked up and that we got knocked up with this particular little person, but being a dad is not the earth-shattering, ground-swelling, clouds-parting, surging-Bellagio-fountains kind of life change he thought it would be.
"Like when we got married," he said. "Everyone kept asking if I felt different. And I didn't. We were just married, and it was great, but...not that different."
I responded by telling him that this was the craziest crazy talk I had ever heard, you big fat crazy, and spent the rest of our dinner contemplating my sleeping son, my incredibly delicious rockfish and how all the ways motherhood has changed me.
(WHICH I WILL NOW TELL YOU ABOUT. DON'T YOU LIKE HOW I SET THAT UP? RESPECT THE SEGUE, PEOPLE.)
There's the aforementioned skin issue. It's really the only way I can describe it: Noah is walking around (okay, more like lolling around like a floppy rockfish) with my top layer of skin. I'm extremely sensitive now. I feel hurts and slights very deeply and it doesn't take much to get me irreparably bent out of shape.
I spent a weekend recently stomping around my house and threatening to pull down my whole damn stupid website because what am I DOING, putting myself and my son out there so freaks and weirdos and mean people can be freaky and weird and mean to us and I DON'T NEED THIS SHIT, DO NOT FUCK WITH THE MAMA BEAR.
So that's a change. Probably not a good change. Probably a change I should discuss with my therapist, had I not fired my therapist because I cannot afford emotional health right now; I have to buy diapers.
(And formula. Stupid boobs. I spend all that money on nursing bras and rented pumps and Soothies and lanolin and twee breastmilk storage containers and four months later I've got enough powdered Similac Advance in my cupboards to create a powerful DHA- and ARA-fueled army of confused flour beetles.)
One thing my therapist WOULD be proud of me for is my sort-of overcoming of the thing about the phone. (That's what we called it. The Thing About the Phone. Not strong enough to be considered a phobia [volcanoes!], but intrusive enough to be a definite Thing.)
I hate the phone. HAAAATE it. I've hated it ever since I was in the first grade and could never remember my phone number, and every time I tried to call home from my friend Missy's house I dialed wrong, and one time this really mean lady yelled at me because she thought I was some punk kid when I just needed to ask my mom if I could stay for dinner.
(AND THIS SCARRED ME FOR LIFE. MY NEUROSES ARE SO FUCKING LAME.)
(And I didn't even LIKE eating dinner at Missy's house, because her mom made canned green beans instead of frozen green beans and put onions IN the hamburgers. So not worth a lifelong Thing, is all I'm saying.)
But Noah can't make his own pediatrician appointments, nor could he sweet talk his way to the top of daycare waiting lists, so I use the phone now.
I even called some random guy who left a Post-it on my car window asking where I'd gotten my leather interior done to tell him (we did it ourselves, and by "we" I mean "Jason") because it seemed like a nice, normal-phone-using thing to do. Also, I respect anyone who has a Post-it handy in a parking garage.
I still have not called to order Indian food though, because the woman who answers the phone at the restaurant is snippy, and snippy stills makes me nervous and when I'm nervous I give them the wrong street address.
I feel badly for when I judged people for their screaming babies ("Just give the damn thing a pacifier already, GOD. All babies like pacifiers, right?"), or for buying an SUV after having one child ("What, like you need all that room for a seven-pound infant? GOD."), or got angry because someone didn't call me or repeatedly canceled lunch plans while on maternity leave ("She's sitting at home eating bon bons in her jammies! She's totally going to spoil that damn baby and have no friends or life ever again and it'll be all her fault.") ("GOD.")
And I'm suddenly aware of money. Before Noah, we never worried about money. We never THOUGHT about money. If we ended up with some money for the savings account at the end of the month, that was GREAT, but if not, WHO CARES, look at the pretty things we bought! We'll think about retirement tomorrow or the day after that.
We're still doing just fine. We can pay our bills and have money left over, despite the insane amount of money I pay to Noah's daycare every week (and you would not believe it if I told you, and I mean that, because I've told people who were firmly convinced that they lived in the High Cost of Living Epicenter of the Universe how much I pay for daycare and they have gone blind from shock. And then, just to be mean, I tell them how much the more expensive centers cost, the centers that we did not get a spot in because I did not get on the waitlist two years ago or offer them my kidney, and then they ACTUALLY DIED. THE POLICE ARE INVESTIGATING ME).
What the hell was I saying before that tangent? Wait, let me SCROLL UP AND CHECK.
Oh right. We're doing okay. Things are definitely tighter than before, but you know, the mortgage gets paid and we can afford to go out for dinner and after consulting our budget spreadsheet I have decided that I can, in fact, continue to pay $12 a month for XM Radio because I no longer grocery shop while pregnant (i.e. seven pints of Ben & Jerry's, family size tub of pudding, etc.).
But I'm just...kind of obsessed with money anyway. I won't spend anything on myself, like AT ALL. Every day at work, I scavenge around the kitchen and put together a free lunch of leftover lunch trays from meetings and free birthday cake and even some mysterious Jell-o snack cups that appeared the other morning. Today I used a Sharpie to color the heel of a shoe that Ceiba chewed all to hell and I don't think you can notice at all, unless you look directly at it.
I went to buy cat food this weekend and pitched a damn FIT because MY GOD, did we not realize we were paying $22.45 for a case of canned light food versus $19.78 for this other brand? That's a cost savings of...more than a whole DOLLAR at LEAST, don't make me to the math, but honestly, that's ridiculous of us to have never noticed that.
Although I'm not forgoing simple pleasures like lunch and new shoes while lavishing hundreds of dollars on Noah either. I almost bought him generic formula ON PRINCIPLE, but got scared of it, like what if it's the Hydrox equivalent to Oreos? Hydrox cookies are gross. And the generic diapers gave him a rash.
I plan to make homemade baby food, not so I can ensure that he will only ever poop out the finest organic produce money can buy, but because those twee little jars are a fucking rip off.
(I'm sure many people out there are screaming WELCOME TO PLANET EARTH, BITCH at their computer screens right now. To them I say, THANK YOU. I ENJOY YOUR OXYGEN-RICH ATMOSPHERE AND VARIOUS CARBON-BASED LIFE FORMS. MAY I CLIP THAT COUPON FOR ALL-BEEF HOT DOGS IF YOU DO NOT PLAN TO UTILIZE IT FOR YOUR OWN NUCLEAR HOUSEHOLD?)
I am fairly sure, however, that my recent decent into miserhood is definitely temporary and will end sometime around the same time I run out of my good facial moisturizer.
I'm also trying to watch my language, surprise surprise. I'm also having a tough time doing it, duh duh duh duh DUH. When I dropped the damn baby-food-making mixer attachment on my toe and broke it, I screamed the f-word several times, only to see Jason standing in the doorway, precious babe in arms. Later that night I broke a jar of red pepper flakes (from BALDUCCI'S, like, are we just throwing money out the window here?) and let a few more choice words fly.
The other night we realized that Noah was staring at the TV while a commercial for Hostel was on. Jason casually turned him around and started talking to him VERY LOUDLY while I fumbled for the remote.
But then yesterday I stumbled onto the Radio Disney channel on XM, only to hear them edit "piece of crap" out of a Weezer song. Seriously? Like, are you fucking kidding me?
And it threw me into an existential dilemma. We all want to be the cool parents who don't freak out about a bit of potty language and buy the stupid edited versions of CDs at Wal-Mart and whatever, but no one wants to be the parent of the kid who calls their preschool teacher a fucking douche.
Or even a piece of crap. Hmm.
I guess I'm not really different either, except that I think about a lot of weird things now. Like when to learn how to use the parental controls on the TiVo. Or whether a subscription to the Sunday paper would be worth it for the coupons, and would I really remember to use the coupons, BECAUSE WHO AM I KIDDING?
I can tell you this much: Parenthood is not sainthood and I am not a better person for fulfilling a base evolutionary urge to reproduce and pass on my clearly superior genetic code. Mostly I just feel like I'm just trying not to mess this kid up too badly.
If anything, being a parent just magnifies my insecurities and makes my bad habits more obvious. It would be really great if having a child automatically made me a kinder, gentler, more fiscally-responsible, phone-using person who watches her goddamn motherfucking mouth sometimes, but it didn't.
I guess the only real life-changing difference is this: Now we have Noah.
Too bad the "we" part of the equation hasn't changed a damn bit, except that we're playing like it counts now.