October 16, 2013 § Leave a comment
I am sick (again) with no voice. But I am working on the whining thing, so today I’m not going to complain about being sick. Instead, I am going to tell you about something that happened a few weeks ago. I had just picked up my daughter from her preschool and we were walking home. And she was running ahead of me, flapping her arms and pretending to be a bird, a crow to be exact.
“Mommy, be a crow with me! Caw caw!”
I eek out a few meager caws, still just walking, still lagging behind her, still mostly in my own world, not yet thoroughly transitioned from my morning of solitude to my afternoon of being with my kid.
“No, flap your arms and do it!”
I look at my 4 year-old and can see that, to her, this is a totally reasonable request. To her, picking a dandelion for someone is a thoughtful gesture. To her, getting a sticker is exciting, even if it’s at the grocery store and it’s the same sticker they always give her, some ugly and sad-looking Christmas bear. To her, we are rich because we have a big jar of money (pennies and nickels) on the shelf. There is no reconciling our perspectives. No way to explain.
“Not right now, honey. I’m not feeling well.”
Always this. “I’m not feeling well.” I’ve come to rely on it as my old standby, my excuse for why I can’t participate, the reason I need to lie down for a while. “I’m not feeling well.” Go ahead. Try to refute it. You can’t. No one can. Ah, the beauty of not feeling well.
Now I am often, in fact, not feeling well. It’s not that it’s untrue. I do have an invisible medical condition that I struggle with. I do need to rest and recuperate sometimes. But– it bothers me that this should be part of my daughter’s “normal”. That Mommy isn’t feeling well. Gotta catch Mommy in one of her rare moments of feeling well, that’s when she’s really fun! The rest of the time… Mommy kind of sucks.
I was tired that day, sure. I was a little down. But were my legs working? Could I breathe okay? Would I most likely make it out of the experience alive, and not at all worse for the wear?
My daughter didn’t push. Already accustomed to me not bending on the not-feeling-well thing, I guess she gave up. She kept on caw-ing and flapping all by herself up ahead of me on the sidewalk. I surveyed the scene. I was seriously considering this thing now. Could I caw a little louder? Could I flap my arms? Could I run alongside my daughter down this not-entirely-deserted city block? Okay, there was a massive construction project happening across the street. Cars passing. Some dog-walkers way up in the distance. What would people think if they saw me? They might think I was a crazy hippie free-spirit type who didn’t give a fuck what anyone thought about her. That could either inspire or annoy. The other alternative was that they could think that I was TRYING to be perceived as such, but was actually NOT so carefree; maybe they would detect self-consciousness in my tentative gait or in the height of my arm-flaps. They might pity me for that, for being so desperate for attention and yet so transparently insecure. I reasoned that those were the two main possibilities. I guess a third could be just, “Oh, PORTLAND…”
But none of the possibilities were really that bad. None were really incriminating. A person might decide that I’m not their taste. That already happens all the time anyway.
I don’t know. I had a FUCK IT moment.
“Caw! Caw!” and it was me this time, and I was flapping my arms and doing some kind of leaping/galloping thing that I’m sure looked ridiculous but FELT LIKE FLYING. I mean, maybe it’s just been too long since I’ve really jumped up into the air, but I was really leaving the ground for what seemed like a pretty long time before touching it again, and when I did touch it again it was just to spring up again into the air! I felt so light. I know my arms are just arms, but I really felt like flapping them was helping me get higher. It was such an unbelievable feeling. Me and my girl, side by side, just being crows.
We passed people. I tried to stay focused on my leaping. I had a really nice rhythm going. I wondered if people were marveling at how much air I was catching. Because I sure was. And I am someone who is typically very hesitant to leave the ground. I don’t even like to lean back in chairs. I have more than once completely killed the mood on a guy who was just trying to be cute and lift me off the ground. PUT ME DOWN SERIOUSLY PUT ME DOWN SERIOUSLY I AM BEING TOTALLY SERIOUS RIGHT NOW thank you sorry I have a thing about that sorry.
For all my tedious analysis, the whole thing lasted like two blocks. We ended up at home, which was, after all, our destination, and it was just like any other day. It didn’t seem to make that much of a difference to my daughter that I had done what I did. She was happy, but she didn’t throw her arms around me and say that I was the best mom ever or anything. And as fun as it was, I’m not going to do it every time. It’s not going to become, like, my thing. But there is something that I can’t stop thinking about– the way it felt to leap like that, and for a moment experience the tiniest bit of flying. It sounds so silly, but it was just so different for me, so fresh and new, and at my age I guess I do not expect to feel fresh and new things anymore. Another thing that I noticed is that it’s getting easier and easier to let go of caring what other people think, especially when the danger is just that they could find me “different”.
Today I am sick so I am actually, legitimately “not feeling well”. But I’m going to try not to be a total waste of human flesh about it. I am not going to vacate the premises. I am not going to opt out of the day. There is always something I can do. Even if it’s just sitting with my daughter and dosing off while she watches a movie. I’m going to be here.
April 29, 2013 § Leave a comment
A while ago I was on a rare solitary walk, and on my way home I came across an old woman who was having trouble carrying her groceries from her car up the steps to her home. I offered to help her, being the nice Girl Scout that I am, and she was very grateful. She said she had recently injured her hip and was in a lot of pain. She went ahead of me up to the door, slowly, gripping the banister, and I followed her with the grocery bags. While she opened the door, I ran down and got the remaining ones out of her car.
When I came back up, I stepped just inside the door, and was immediately hit with the smell of… old soup? Thanksgiving leftovers from the 70’s? It was a savory, homey, oniony smell gone horribly bad, like something that was originally delicious but was now decomposing. The inside of her house was quite dark, but in the patches of incoming daylight I could see that this was a place unlike anywhere I had been before. It was a total and devastating mess. There was just STUFF. EVERYWHERE. I couldn’t even see the floor. There appeared to be couches and a table, but I could not actually see them either– I just guessed they were there because the stuff reached higher peaks in those spots. Everything looked dusty, like it had been sitting there for a very long time, but as I looked more (stealing quick glances so she wouldn’t be offended), I noticed that there was a unifying color scheme of red, green, silver, and gold. It was CHRISTMAS stuff. Cookie tins, Santa statues, wreaths, garlands, reindeer, angels, stockings, paper napkins, oh my god, it was all just sitting there, stacked up and acquiring dirt in this smelly little house. What was this lady’s DEAL?!? I pretended so hard not to notice at all. I stood there holding the bags until she said I could put them down where I was.
She thanked me for helping her, and said that life had become much more difficult since her injury and since her daughter had grown up and left home. Her daughter was deaf, she said, and she had raised her on her own, becoming an activist for deaf rights in the process of advocating for her daughter at every turn. She was also a real estate agent, but said that the market was dead right now, so she wasn’t really working anymore. She jokingly asked me if I wanted to buy a house. Or sell a house. I said no. And I said sorry. I am always saying sorry.
I didn’t ask her about the Christmas stuff. The weird thing was, she herself did not look around at it once while I was there. When people come over to my house, I always look around to see what it looks like through their eyes– usually it’s messier than I feel like it should be so I apologize for how messy it is in an attempt to convince them that it is usually in some other, better state, which is totally not the case– it is usually way WAY worse and I have usually scrambled around before the person came over just to make it presentable and then once they are here I realize that it is still pretty bad, oh well. But my worst mess is nothing compared to this woman’s surroundings, yet she seemed entirely unconcerned with it. It was like she couldn’t even see it.
I stood there breathing in this gross smell, hoping it wasn’t attaching itself to my hair and clothes, and trying not to stare at the insanity around me while she told me the medical details of her hip problem and the level of financial fuckedness she was currently facing (my wording, not hers. Although that would have been awesome). I made sympathetic facial expressions but I felt like there should be more. I wanted to offer something. I had the urge to blurt out that I would come by one afternoon a week and help her with stuff, and/or do her shopping for her, and/or help her out with home organization. I thought that maybe I could lie and say that I happened to be kind of an expert at organizing and that it was one of my hobbies, to make her feel like she was doing ME a favor by letting me tackle such an exciting project… say, “I couldn’t help but notice your fabulous collection of Christmas decorations! I would just ADORE sorting through it all and working out a way for it to be displayed so you could really SEE all the great stuff you HAVE here!” Bullshit like that.
But I didn’t. For a few reasons I guess. 1. I have no time. I am with my daughter almost constantly, and I would not want to bring a three year-old into that home with me. No way no how. 2. I’m not actually an expert at organizing. I am actually kind of an expert at disorganizing. I am fascinated by hoarders partly because I recognize something of myself in them. I worry that I would not really be able to help her, and that maybe her hoarding behaviors would rub off on me and I would become a crazy Christmas lady too. Crazy Christmas Lady (TM). From the makers of Crazy Cat Lady (TM) and Crazy Lady Who Gets A Hyper-Realistic Baby Doll and Treats it Like a Real Baby (TM). 3. I’m afraid of becoming entangled. Enmeshed. In other people’s lives. Afraid of making things MY problem. Because I can’t do that for everyone. I happened to come across this particular lady, and my heart kind of went out to her, but I can’t go around constantly volunteering myself to every needy person I encounter. Right? So I have to choose none. It’s only fair. I’m not Mother Theresa or Jesus. There are limits to my capacity for loving kindness. I wish there weren’t, but actually there kind of have to be. Right? Boundaries and whatnot? I have to be reasonable. I have to say “NO”. I have to walk home knowing that that was my one glimpse into the house of the Crazy Christmas Lady (TM) and I will never get another. I helped her with her groceries, I could try to muster up some self-congratulations for that, right? But I can’t. Because I feel like I should have done more. She’s going to need to go grocery shopping again in the near future I’m sure, and what if no one is walking by when she needs help getting the bags into her house? And what about all the other stuff she needs to do on a daily basis that is painful or hard for her, plus the loneliness. She seemed incredibly lonely to me. Is it really fine of me to reduce her to a little anecdote on my blog and get on with my life?
The weirdest thing is, I have tried to find her house again, and I don’t know where it is. I thought I knew at the time what street I was on, but when I go back there I can’t find any houses that have the steps and door that I remember. What would I do if I did find it? Stop by for a visit? Leave her a note with my phone number? Maybe it’s better that I can’t find it. Maybe my subconscious is purposely hiding the information from me to protect me from getting too bizarre with my life. But I can’t help feeling like, by sheltering myself from entanglements, I get only anecdotes where I could have had novels.
October 3, 2012 § Leave a comment
Every year for my dude’s birthday, I have this hilarious and sweet custom of making him a book of homemade coupons for special favors that he can redeem from me at any time during the year. He loves it!
Actually I have never done this, ever. But I am doing it now, because, well… I kind of forgot that his birthday was today, and we have a pile of Chinook books here that we need to sell for my daughter’s school, and I got to thinking… Those homemade coupons that people give each other… no one ever actually redeems those, right? I mean, that would feel so preposterously weird and formal. This is a gift where it truly is the thought that counts… you never actually have to do any of the stuff you put down. BEST GIFT EVER.
So here are the coupons I’m giving my sweetie:
1. Super Duper Sweater Saver!: I will de-pill a sweater of your choice, handpicking off every single little nub. (Stipulation: I get to watch anything I want on TV while I do it).
2. Step on your Balls!: I will step on your balls with a high-heeled shoe on. I heard that some guys pay prostitutes big money for this service. If you ever want to try it, but don’t want to break the bank, well, now you have a coupon.
3. Delicious Dinner!: I will make you a dinner from the list of stuff I usually tend to make for dinner. But this time I will make it delicious.
4. Watch out for those Bees!: If bees are swarming you in an attack, I will say, “Watch out for those bees!” (Coupon must be redeemed at least one (1) but no more than three (3) hours prior to attack).
5. You Get the Bigger Half!: I will, if we are splitting something, give you the bigger half. (Coupon only valid on things that I like less than you do).
6. Just Say No!: This coupon entitles you to refuse to lift something heavy for me or reach something that is up too high for me to reach. (Warning: use of this coupon may result in heavy boxes remaining where they don’t belong, and stuff that’s up high remaining not gotten. So… Give it some real thought. I mean, how much skin is it off your teeth, honestly? To take one more box down to the basement? To get me the olive oil? Not much. I mean, you have plenty. Of skin on your teeth. You could spare quite a bit. Ew. What is up with that anyway? Why do you have skin on your teeth? I’ve been meaning to ask you about that.)
7. Halloween Homies!: I will dress up in a companion costume with you for Halloween. We can go as anything you want. No seriously, anything. The sky’s the limit. Let your imagination run wild. (Some restrictions apply: No visual puns. No food items. No blackface. No adult babies.)
8. Rise and Shine!: Use this coupon on a morning when you need to get up early. I will wake you up by being as perky as humanly possible, ripping the covers off you, and shoving you out of bed. (I will then go back to sleep.)
9. Eat a Banana!: I will eat a banana in front of you. Very slowly. Enjoying every minute of it. (You must supply the banana. Also, a pot of chocolate fondue. Banana should be pre-sliced and arranged on a plate with some strawberries and small cubes of pound cake.)
10. What’s So Funny?!: This coupon can be used once. At the time it is presented, I must tell you exactly what is so funny about what I just read in whatever book or article I am reading. I must explain it in as much depth as is needed for you to fully appreciate the humor, even if it takes going all the way back to the beginning of the story to fill you in on who the characters are and the particular nuances of their relationships.
October 2, 2012 § Leave a comment
Since I quit Facebook, there is nowhere for my status updates to go. My brain has almost stopped creating them. Not entirely, though. Here are some thoughts I’ve had lately that are so interesting that they’ve made me consider opening my account again, just so I would have a way to share them with the world. I’m sharing them here, so that I will not give in to that impulse.
1. Pho is the shit.
2. I FARKING LOVE READING!!!!!
3. My 3 year-old asked for a piece of ham by simply saying, “Ham me,” and holding out her hand.
4. FUUUUUUCK STREET FAIRS!!!!
5. I’m making kale chips, baby. “In the oven or in the dehydrator?” you ask. BOTH! Snap. I borrowed a dehydrator and I am comparing which works better. I’LL LET YOU KNOW!!!!
6. WTF???!!!! MY TEA’S GONE COLD????!!!! I’m wondering why I got out of bed at all. Seriously, WHAT IS THE FUCKING POINT????!!!! If I can’t count on my tea to stay hot indefinitely, I don’t want to live anymore.
7. Almost got hit by a car. A lot of people say that when it was not that close to happening. This was seriously close to happening. I was in a crosswalk, this guy was making a left turn and didn’t see me. He was going too fast to stop so he swerved to avoid me and ended up all spun around in the intersection. And when he looked at me, I mouthed the word, “Sorry”. Instead of the word, “Asshole”. Fucking patriarchal social conditioning.
May 27, 2012 § Leave a comment
Never say: “Oh my God, I mean, who DOES that?!?!”
Somebody does, apparently. The fact that this surprises you only reveals that you don’t know enough people. Not only do you not know enough people, you also have never studied history, you don’t take in any media, and you don’t have much of an imagination.
I mean, have you not noticed in your however many years of life on this planet that PEOPLE ARE CAPABLE OF SOME DEEPLY DISTURBING SHIT? There really is nothing that I would put past us. Imagine any deed, bizarre or horrific or just mildly inconsiderate, and I promise you that there are people who have done it. Don’t act so surprised.
Try this instead: “Oh, your date was sitting there picking his nose and eating it through the whole meal? Huh. Sounds about right. I mean, it’s gross and rude and everything, but you’ve got to expect that with so many people in the world and so many of them trying internet dating, you’re bound to at some point come into contact with this type of social deviance. Unpleasant, for sure, but hey. People are fucking weirdos.”
May 2, 2012 § 1 Comment
I do not like the playground. There, I said it. The playground is one of my personal hells. And it’s actually a nice playground, the one close to us. It has wood chips for the youngest children to eat (excellent source of fiber), an empty wading pool for everyone to complain about not getting to use on hot days (brings people together), and see-saws for everyone to call teeter-totters except some people who know that they are called see-saws (sparks gentle, light-hearted debate that invariably leads to deeply satisfying exchanges about our regional idiosyncracies and cherished colloquialisms). The main play structure is made of sturdy plastic and metal, with multiple slides and stairs and ladders, and even an inexplicably Australian-themed educational corner and a place to play tic-tac-toe. The problem is not that it is not an ideal playground. The problem is that even an ideal playground is inherently flawed. It is designed to be really fun for children, but phenomenally boring for adults. I MEAN IT IS SO FUCKING BORING!
I’ve noticed that a lot of parents, myself included, have developed certain coping mechanisms, “playground personas” if you will, to deal with the overwhelming mental anguish that accompanies a trip with our children to the playground. Here are a few that I’ve encountered:
1. The Overly Excited: This parent acts as if being with his/her child at the playground is the BEST. THING. EVER. Ohmygosh it is so fun! The Overly Excited mom is pushing her kid on the swing from the FRONT, so that she can make silly noises and faces at the kid with every push. The kid is already FLYING THROUGH THE AIR. But this parent needs to insert themselves into their child’s experience in any way she can or she risks dissolving into a puddle of unidentified goo in the soul-destroying wasteland that is The Playground. I’ve been there. I know that, sometimes, pretending you are going to eat your kid’s feet every 2.5 seconds is more for you than for her.
There is also the Overly Excited dad who says, “WHEE!” while his kid is going down the slide, even though he himself is standing on solid ground. I think he feels a little disappointed that his kid is not showing more enthusiasm about being at The Playground. His “Whee!” is a plea. Come on, kid, please, I need you to be a little more forthcoming with the joy-sounds or I seriously do not know what I’m living for anymore. This is also the parent who claps when his kid gets to the bottom of the slide. “GREAT JOB!” he shouts. “HIGH FIVE!” he demands. If going to The Playground is going to be this excruciating, I’ve gotta believe that you’re building skills here. So I am going to completely ignore my knowledge of physics and pretend that my kid landing at the bottom of the slide was an uphill fucking battle.
2. The Wannabe Cool-Kid: This is going to bother someone, but I have found that this is usually a dad who only has his kids on the weekends. I have also seen a female nanny play this role. This is the adult who is chasing kids all over the playground in the throes of some elaborate game that he himself has created that includes pirates, dragons, monsters, and/or the stipulation that the ground beneath the play structure is comprised of hot lava. This person thinks that he is doing some great service to the children of The Playground, and that without his boundless energy and willingness to make a complete ass of himself, the kids would just be sitting around miserable and totally bored. He’s got one thing right: The Playground is The Most Boring Place on Earth. But what he doesn’t realize is that it’s only boring FOR ADULTS. Kids seem to find it pretty cool, and can usually figure out how to make their own fun. The Wannabe Cool-Kid does not understand that his perspective is that of an adult, because he still FEELS like a kid. Just one that is giant and covered in body hair. He actually thinks that this ability to operate at the level of a child makes him “good with kids”.
The Wannabe Cool-Kid always offends me more than any of the other types. Mostly because I really don’t think kids should be told by an adult about the ground being hot lava. That idea is supposed to spontaneously spread from child to child, from (actual) Cool-Kid to Less-Cool-Kid (who will in turn become a Cool-Kid when he/she passes cool information on to another Less-Cool-Kid). This is one of laws of childhood. It is the same natural cycle that perpetuates hand-clapping games and erroneous explanations of how intercourse is done. DON’T MESS WITH PERFECTION.
3. The Phone-y: These parents are REALLY FUCKING GRATEFUL for their phones. I mean, they can hardly believe that we are still calling them “phones”, what with all the amazing shit they can do, like make it possible to spend time at The Playground without erupting into homicidal rage. They like their phones so much, sooo soooo much, omg omg omg. You can tell because they have often bedazzled them and bought them fancy cases just to show the depth of their devotion. The Phone-sessed are VERY aware that The Playground sucks hard, but they barely have to look at The Playground, save for the occasional glance upward to assure that no one has made off with their child. They have a beautiful world at their fingertips. E-mail, Facebook, Words with Friends, and something I’ve heard of but never seen with my own eyes called Angry Birds. I would love to do these things at The Playground, myself; if only I had a Smart Phone, I would be totally Phone-sessed. But alas, I have a dumb phone and I suck at texting with it and don’t have that many people I text with anyway. But if it’s any consolation (to myself, or to you if you have a dumb phone too), I do notice this: these parents are never smiling. They are escaping the hell of The Playground only to occupy a tepid purgatory where everyone on Facebook’s lives are cooler than theirs and their Words with Friends racks have all vowels.
4. The Busybody: This person wants to know how old your kid is and they want to know exactly. If you give them a rough estimate, like, “I know she’s at least 2…” they ask you what her exact date of birth was, and then they will proceed to actually do the fucking math FOR YOU. As if you are incapable of doing it yourself. Because clearly if you COULD do math, you’d most certainly use that skill to know at any moment off the top of your head the exact age of your child. What could be more pertinent? “I’ve just calculated your daughter to be 2 and 7 months! So almost 3!” Wow! Thank you so much, lady! Not only do I now know exactly how old my daughter is, information that should help me navigate encounters exactly like this one with people exactly like you (at least for the next month or so), but I also know now that 2 and 7 months is almost 3! That is some really tricky math! I am so glad you were here to do it for me. Let’s be best friends forever!
Then they tell you exactly how old their kid is, and the exact birth date too, you know, to help your burgeoning sense of numbers and their relationship to other numbers, and you have to say something really inane so that you seem normal. Like, “Wow, neat.” Now that that’s out of the way, they want to know if your daughter’s gotten her 2-year molars yet. For fuck’s sake! “She has a bunch of teeth,” I say. “I really don’t know much about them.” Now this person is recommending pediatric dentists to you. PLEASE SHUT UP. Leave me alone. Seriously. Can you not tell that I am barely hanging on here?
5. The Done… Just… Done: These are the parents with that lost, forlorn, bleary-eyed look, the ones who can’t seem to find a good way to stand, or sit, because they have arms that seem suddenly unwieldy and pockets that are just a little too high and small to casually and comfortably put their hands in. (Though this will not stop them from trying.) The Done parent tries to smile, but there is so much pain and it’s not very well veiled underneath. All of her energy goes into determining the exact moment at which it is no longer too soon to leave. She whispers to her kid, “Hey, I think we’re gonna go soon,” and if the kid’s response is a horrified, “WHAT!!! NO!!!” she knows that it is not time yet. It is possible that only 45 seconds have passed since their arrival– she loses all sense of time’s pace at The Playground. But she will continue to ask until the response is a milder form of protest, and then negotiations begin. The kid wants to go on the swing before leaving, but this would be unbearable. Quietly, praying that no one will hear, the Done parent says, “Can’t you just go down the slide 4 more times instead?” voice cracking slightly with a mixture of false enthusiasm and utter loss of will to live.
I am Done with The Playground. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be back. Oh, no. Spring is just warming up around here, and you’ve gotta find a way to fill a day when you’re with a 2 and 7 month old. I’ll be back, you can find me there. I’ll be the one awkwardly shifting my weight from one foot to the other in the absolute lamest attempt ever to simulate the sensation of going somewhere.
November 3, 2011 § 2 Comments
I don’t trust myself to come to decisions by thinking thoughts with my brain. I know that that’s how we’re supposed to do things, especially those of us who have the luxury of exercising some degree of control over what happens to us, but I deal with my brain every day and I know what goes on in there.
5 Horrible Reasons to Have More Children
(all of which have gone through my mind at some point and seemed perfectly sensible)
1. Because I’m gaining weight. After I had my daughter, contrary to my most sincere expectations, the baby weight did not just melt off. I had to work really hard to lose it. And you know what? IT SUCKED. I hate exercising, I hate dieting, I hate thinking about my weight constantly (which is what I had to do in order to keep from mindlessly committing such sins as EATING WHEN HUNGRY). But I did it! Yay me! I got my pre-baby body back! (Well, I got back to my pre-baby weight. The actual shape of my body remained quite jacked up. But look! With a push-up bra and Spanx I could totally go out in public with a long wrap-around sweater on!)
But alas, time passed, as time is wont to do… and my daughter discovered goldfish crackers, and animal crackers, and graham crackers, and suddenly I found myself buying things I would never have kept in the house before because I know what I will do to them. I fell in love with a chocolate bar called Ritter Sport (how bad for you can it be with the word “Sport” in the title?). A really good pizza place moved into our neighborhood, our default at-home dinners became quesadillas and macaroni and cheese, and anything we’d eat “for a change” would usually just be some other configuration of carbs and cheese. Bagels and cream cheese. Nachos. Ravioli.
At the same time that our nutritional standards were hitting an all-time low, favorite pairs of jeans that I had worn for years turned against me, refusing to stretch over my thighs. A little tiny voice in my head whispered: You know, there could be a very good explanation for this. You could be pregnant again. But I’m not, I say. But you COULD be. Get pregnant again and the weight will not be your fault. Get pregnant again and celebrate with a milkshake. I bet Burgerville has their seasonal pumpkin milkshakes right now. Mmmmm…. milkshake….
2. Because I want health insurance. For all the conservative hostility toward the poor and their use of social services, I have to say, I encountered nothing but pleasantness when I applied for and received Oregon Health Plan insurance for my pregnancy the first time around. I was kind of surprised that nobody ever said to me, “Why did you get pregnant if you couldn’t afford to pay the medical bills?” I mean, if somebody actually HAD said that to me, I probably would have had all sorts of outrage on Facebook and gotten lots of “likes”, but the fact that there was nothing of that sort from anyone at all, it just felt… too easy.
I had totally free health insurance for my pregnancy plus 30 days, and that included dental and vision. I went to the dentist for the first time in YEARS (don’t worry– I’m an avid flosser). I was able to get a new pair of glasses for free (I had to pick from three styles and couldn’t get glare-protection, but the ones I got were cute on me!). I got to go to a clinic of midwives who were amazing, and have my baby in the hospital without worrying about how long I could afford to stay there or whether I could manage to pay for regular trips to a lactation consultant afterward. People: it costs thousands of dollars to have a baby without insurance. Also, at one point in my pregnancy I got sick, and was able to go get a strep test for free, something that I did a few weeks ago without insurance and it cost me $119. So yeah, I am very appreciative of the care that I received during my brief fling with health insurance. I wouldn’t mind another go around. A pap smear? A flu shot? Another pair of those glasses, since the ones I got are broken now and held together with duct tape and fall off my face any time I look down? A general feeling of not being morbidly paranoid at all times about accidents and injuries and serious illnesses going undiagnosed until too late? Sounds great! I’ll help myself to some of that! I don’t qualify unless I’m pregnant? Ok, guess I better get on that then…
3. Because I have names picked out. I’ve enjoyed thinking about baby names since I was a baby myself. And well, I’ve got a few favorites stored up that it would be a shame not to slap on an actual kid before I die. I take pride in my taste in names, but it’s hard to be complimented for that when you only have one kid. That one name could have been just dumb luck. But if you’ve got TWO or even THREE kids with great names, well, my dear, you just might be an excellent baby-namer worthy of praise and attention (and me likey the praise and attention.)
4. Because we have all the stuff. I’m a frugal, thrifty sort of gal, and nothing excites me more than the idea of taking this baby stuff that we have just used for one baby and using it for another baby. It just seems so ECONOMICAL. It’s like, we might have to spend more money in the long run on things like a bigger apartment or a house, more food, ballet classes and karate classes and piano lessons and Barbie printable hair extensions, but think of all the money we’d SAVE by re-using all this perfectly good baby stuff that cost us NEXT TO NOTHING because most of it was given to us as hand-me-downs or gifts! I mean, if you consider the original retail value of all this stuff, having another baby just MAKES SENSE.
5. Because WHAT THE FUCK AM I GOING TO DO WHEN THIS ONE STARTS SCHOOL? I am strongly considering homeschooling my daughter, and I swear it’s for a lot of reasons that are not this, but Oh My God what am I going to do if she really wants to go to school and so we let her and she is just GONE for hours every single weekday? What will I do with myself? I will have to get a job. Either that, or our meals are gonna have to get a whole lot better, the house will start having to shine like the top of the fucking Chrysler Building, and I’ll have to diversify my Etsy shop to include homemade soaps and candles. I do not like these prospects.
P.S. Even if we do decide to homeschool, I’ll be much more likely to invest in quality materials if I know I’ll get to use them for more than one kid. (See Reason #4). With only one child to educate, I might be tempted to skimp by accepting textbook donations from religious fundamentalist homeschoolers, and that could be really confusing for her unless we as her parents converted to the religion so as to be more able to answer her questions. And chances are, if we become religious fundamentalists, we’re gonna be having more kids shortly anyway. So… yeah… what was my point?
Anyway, clearly the decision about whether or not to have more children should not be left up to my brain. My brain interprets any paragraph with a seemingly-logical construction as a “valid argument”, regardless of the words it contains. No, this decision is too important for that. It’s got to be a feeling thing. What does my heart say? Does it have enough love inside it for more children? Or do I have some kind of grinchy heart that’s as small as a flake of dandruff that is actually kind of large for a flake of dandruff and makes you kind of nauseated just to see it? NO! My heart is the BIGGEST! At this very moment, it is literally bursting at the seams with more love than anyone who has never been a mother could possibly understand!
Actually, on second thought, my heart is kind of a ninny. I think I’m better off doing what I’ve always done: floating along being only semi-aware of my actions and their potential consequences, until I either accidentally get myself pregnant again, or don’t.