Over the past month or so, I’ve read several opposing declarations from women – nonparents taking aim at parents, parents firing back at nonparents, parents of one child defending their decisions to stop at one, and so on. Though I’ve been able to clearly see the points made from all sides, I thought I’d add a bit to the conversation.
What I’d like to address today are all the questions posed from nonparents to parents. You know, the fun stuff.
Oh my God! You haven’t painted your nails in two years?! Are you serious?? I couldn’t imagine!
That’s not so much a question as it is an exclamation, I know – and, let me tell you, Sally Hansen, I totally see where you’re coming from. At several points in my life, I had built a veritable arsenal of color. I changed my nail polish once a week – even touched up in between. When I tired of a particular color, I was greeted by a line of eagerly-awaiting relatives. I’ve done gel, I’ve done acrylic, I’ve even bought and placed my own decals, and I know, well, first-hand, that there’s nothing quite as depressing as two fistfuls of brittle, bare nails.
That said, my hands have been in a sink full of bottle and sippy cup parts for the better part of three years. My hands are permanently poached, and, as it turns out, my kids don’t like the taste of nail polish flecks very much. When I’m not partially submerged, I’m actually two-stepping away from my daughter, who, in her short life, has discovered the merits of doing exactly as Mommy does, namely painting her nails. When I’m not escaping from her, I’m Greco-Roman wrestling the bottles from her mighty grasp. She can do it, you see. She can do it to the table, to the floors, to her clothes, and to her stuffed animals. She can do it.
So, please pardon me if I’ve chosen to don two hands full of split, pale, unfiled claws. Because polish remover strips the finish off the furniture.
You never go out? Like, EVER? Come on! I’m sure you get out SOMETIMES. (See Also: They’re NEVER on time!)
There may come a time in your life when you are so exhausted and overwhelmed, the very thought of planning and executing any sort of rendezvous will give you chills of horror. You will flash back to a simpler time, a time when going out simply meant feeding and clothing yourself, locating your car, and driving away. You will want to cry, but you will hold in the tears, knowing you will need that energy to drag your sorry ass up to bed. And then you will understand.
For now, though, let’s just say going out feels a bit like taking three feral cats to the vet. In one carrier. Alone. In the rain. In a car with no brakes.
Why is her house such a mess? I mean, she has SOME time to clean, doesn’t she?
Imagine someone drops three or four litters of puppies off in your living room. Okay, now clean.
Why would she let herself go after having kids? She used to be so put-together! I’d never let myself go!
The short answer: We didn’t.
The long answer: Imagine three or four litters of puppies follow you to your bathroom during your shower, entangling themselves in your blow dryer cord, chewing open your brand-new luxury brand mascara, and nudging all the faucets open with their adorable little muzzles. Now imagine the phone ringing, someone knocking at the door, and pieces of hot toast flying at you from all directions. Imagine yelling, “NO! That’s HOT. Don’t touch! Hot! No!” to the puppies over the din of the shower, the phone, and the blowdryer smacking wildly around the room. We haven’t let ourselves go – we never had a fighting chance.
What’s wrong with them? Can’t they just control their kid(s)? And why are they so dirty? Eeeuuu!
No. No, we can’t. We don’t actually enjoy going out and being completely humiliated by the fruits of our loins, but sometimes things need to get done. Truth be told, you probably caught us during hour four of an excruciatingly long day of errands. Also, I’ve had people, at different points of the same day, tell me, “Your kids are so well-behaved, I didn’t even know they were there!” and scoff loudly. You don’t know if the bananas you put in your cart are going to make them squeal with delight, or catapult them into white-hot fury. It’s a crap shoot – for you and for us.
(Above the screaming) Um, is there a better time I can call you back?
When preschool starts? How about when preschool starts?
Look, we do not intend to initiate conversation with you when we cannot hear what you’re saying. We don’t intend to annoy you by asking you to repeat yourself six times. We try, and I mean really try to understand and respond to the discussion at hand. But sometimes we can’t, and sometimes you just don’t have the patience, and the disarming jokes about birth control don’t work, and you have to wait for me to actually leave the house to wander the front yard in my pajamas in order to successfully complete our conversation. We don’t mean it. We used to have normal conversations as well, free of chaos and distraction – at home, in offices, and even in our cars. Please, please understand. We want to conduct life’s business the way that you do – we just can’t. Until preschool starts.
We never see them anymore since they had kids!
Under something. Try looking under something. And, for God’s sake, give us a hand!
Please be kind to parents.
We love you, we envy you, we WERE you, and most of us look forward to a time we can be again, if we haven’t forgotten how.