This weekend was one of the best in a longtime. I spent it entirely in the company of two energetic, silly, and sweet boys- my two little boys.
While my boys are my true joy, it’s not always so easy going. In fact, many weekends, I spend hidden in the closet, under a comforter, sucking my thumb with a bottle of Patron and a Lifeline Medical Alert around my neck, as the boys jump from the highest points and throw make-shift Frisbees around the house. (Hint: if you ever see me out, offer me a shot of patron. I doubt I’ll say no.)
Please don’t think I don’t enjoy being a mom. While it hard, being a mother is the most amazing experience I’ve ever had. I’ve learned more about love and it’s many glorious forms than I could have ever imagined. But, in truth, being a mother also isn’t exactly what I imagined it would be. Now, perhaps that is due in part to the fact that I always imagined myself with girls; playing dress-up, baking, doing each other’s nails. I never imagined I’d be pretending to be Lex Luther, as Batman and Superman close in on me. Don’t get me wrong, with my hair pulled back and with the right glare, I make a fantastic Luther. But, the embarrassing truth is during the gender-revealing ultrasound for my first born, I cried when we learned we were having a little boy. Don’t worry, I wished many times our second would be a boy to give my first a brother. Thankfully, little Vincent fulfilled the wish. And now, I wouldn’t know what to do with girls. I’m glad I have little ones who appreciate my grasshopper-catching skills.
Besides the gender shock, the basics of being a parent were shocking from day one. A very simple fact alluded me: A newborn baby equals no sleep. How I missed this fact, I do not know. Sure, people said, “Enjoy your sleep while you can.” But, I missed the point that we would be awake every two hours. And, poor little Rhett had a broken collar bone, so the sleep interruptions were even more frequent. I was so angry and disturbed that all who went before me kept the sleep deprivation such a big secret. I felt it was my personal duty to make all expectant mothers aware. I thought if I knew, I could have mentally prepared, and so, I wanted to give other pregnant women this opportunity.
About one month into motherhood, I headed to the Natick Mall to find a dress for a rehearsal dinner that would fit over the newly formed milk volcanos on my chest. (I can’t say the bridesmaid dress even came close.) I strolled from store to store in my new zombie mode when I happened upon a poor ready-to-pop sales girl. She ran up to me with such naïve excitement. “Oh my goodness! A new baby! I’m due in 4 weeks!” My eyes bulged out past their dark circles. I wanted to school this poor girl about the unexpected distress of lack of sleep.
I pushed the stroller back and forth nervously, “I’m going to give you the best bit of information that I bet no one has told you. You will no longer sleep. I’m only telling you this, because I really wish someone would have explained that a new baby means zero sleep, I mean like never. You won’t ever sleep again. Be prepared to be completely exhausted. I barely remember my name. Hell, I keep forgetting why I’m even here.” Just about then, Rhett started to wake, letting me know it was time to head to Nordstrom’s fancy mom’s lounge. The timing was perfect, because the milk volcanos were about to erupt. Lucky for me I had an excuse to leave, because the woman looked as though she was about to call security.
Honestly, that’s a true story.
Many more actualities about parenting continued to shock me. I guess I just imagined that whatever I taught my children to do, they would naturally follow and conform. I forgot to account for individuality and assertiveness. And, when faced with these challenges under duress, a parent may turn to unexpected means.
The Jessica of ten years ago would have been horrified that her future counterpart would give her children sugar or (gasp) TV. But, sometimes, these offensive strategies are needed. For example, you want a measly extra ten minutes at a restaurant, that ice cream and chocolate sauce just might buy it for you.
But, that’s the thing about parenting, and life in general; while you can have a plan, you must always accept the possible need for a deviation. With the passing of my husband and the boys’ father, we’ve taken a major turn onto a bumpy road. Just like for many other single moms, I can’t always be the one who is guiding them. We have to put trust in others. We have to put trust in our children.
And so this weekend, it seems as though that trust paid off. We had make believe camping trips with s’mores, football games, and bike rides. I could reason with them, and they were kind to each other. I am well aware that next weekend may be different, or that in ten years, I will be dealing with issues of an entirely different nature. But for now, my little babies and I are relishing in a wonderful close to their school vacation. It may not always be easy going, but the going will always be good.