Before I Had Kids

Warning to all who enter our building, the water seems to be contaminated!

Seriously, there are at least six women in our school who are expecting babies, all within months of each other. Saying it is in the water may be an understatement. We are completely surrounded.

No joke.

Of course, when you have even one pregnant lady around, all the women within 100 feet chime in with their stories of bringing life into the world, imagine what it is like with five or six. Whole lunch time conversations revolve around weird food cravings, stretch marks and random strangers touching their bellies, breast feeding vs. bottles, the struggle of getting out of bed; the good, the bad and the horrific of being pregnant. You know the drill. Then the conversation switches to all the birthing stories. Any new mom-to-be in the room now fears for her life with these tales of woe. Even I have shared the beauty and horror of my child birth experiences. It is like showing off a medal of honor. But all this baby-ness has had me thinking about what life was like before I had my children.

Insert magical harp music and daydreaming sequence here.

It seems like so long ago – a completely different lifetime. Of course, I gained so much more than weight when I became a mother. Let’s be honest though, I gave up a lot too.

Before I had kids…

I could pee alone.

Honestly, I can’t even remember the last time I was in my own home and I was able to go to the bathroom without an audience or an interruption. Why do children think that this is an excellent time to talk to their mothers?

During Spring Break my twins were outside playing and I was working in the kitchen. I looked out the window at them, realizing that they were completely occupied with their friends and games. So I said out loud to myself and to my husband who was sitting on the couch, “I should go to the bathroom right now! I’ll be able to pee all by myself!” I raced into the bathroom (I am so serious, I ran in there), closed the door, unfastened my pants, sat down just to hear my son yelling, “MOM!?!?!”

“YOU HAVE GOT TO BE FLIPPIN’ KIDDING ME!?!” I yelled to my son on the other side of the door, not mad but just utterly shocked. “Don’t you dare turn that knob, boy! Your father is sitting on the couch in the living room, WHICH you had to pass to come in here! Why are you NOT talking to him?”

Silence.

I sat there in shock. Not a minute passed by and my daughter is turning the door knob.

“MOMMY?”

“NO! JUST NO!” I shout through the door. “Do you little people have supersonic hearing? Did you hear my zip go down from clear outside!? Talk. To. Your. Father!”

More silence, though I half expected little fingers to wiggle under the door.

I sat there, even though I was finished, just taking in the quiet of my bathroom wondering why anyone in their right mind would want to join someone as they are taking care of business in a bathroom. These children must be crazy! And why, why is it that they don’t inflict that crazy on their father? Why does he get to pee alone? Yes, I am a little bitter about this. It’s quite unfair.

Oh the simple bliss of peeing alone; what sweet memories those are!

I could eat a piece of chocolate (well, any treat really) without feeling like a prisoner with illegal contraband.

I have to stash small amounts of my favorite treats so the kids won’t find them; I squirrel away Lindor truffles behind the canned goods in the pantry and bury my favorite kind of Girl Scout cookies at the bottom of the ice bucket in the freezer. If I don’t hide them, my children will find them and will devour them. And I am pretty sure they don’t even taste it. It just gets inhaled!

Can I get an Amen? I know I’m not alone on this one.

I remember when the kids were small and I had received the most delicious chocolate bar for my birthday. I was thrilled and terrified at the same time. It was going to taste delightful, but I knew if my children saw me eating it, there would either be pouting with sad puppy dog eyes to guilt me out of it or smiles mixed with eye lashes being fluttered leading to more than half of my present being sweet-talked away from me.

NOPE! This called for stealthy mom moves!

So what did I do? I did what any normal woman would do for chocolate. I made sure the children were preoccupied, checked to see if the coast was clear and quietly I hid myself in the pantry to break off a chunk of that beautiful chocolate bar. There was no way I could have eaten the whole thing at once. I mean, really, what mom can be out of their children’s sight before they start hunting her down? Besides, that supersonic hearing thing that children apparently have, works for the wrappers of anything yummy as well.

After I enjoyed that one small nibble, I slowly inched my way out of the pantry and carried on as normal. Criminal actions for sure, but if that means I don’t have to give away that last little bite, it is worth it!

Selfish motives? I’m not a selfish person, but sometimes I just need something that is all mine.

I could sneeze without wetting my pants.

There was a time in life when I did not fear sneezing. Or coughing for that matter. Or laughing. Or hiccupping. Those were the good old days, where my only worry was the occasional snot rocket or booger escaping from my nose, because I am a known snorter.

I remember seeing my mom and grandma working away in the house or walking along somewhere, suddenly you could see on their face that a sneeze was coming shortly. What do you suppose the very first thing they would do was?

If you answered cross one leg over the other, then you are correct! Most likely you are a mom!

I thought this was the funniest and strangest thing when I was young. My mom would say, “Just you wait until you have kids! It’s your fault that I have to brace myself for the possibility of a leak!”

Yep, okay mom. Sure.

Then I gave birth to not one, but TWO bladder boppers! My body stretched out in ways I didn’t even know the human body was capable of and nothing felt right anymore. The first time I sneezed after they were born, well, it was a brand new experience. I sneezed like I always had sneezed before. However, my eyeballs got as big as Frisbees when I realized that I needed a different pair of underwear and perhaps pants too.

Now I find myself crossing one leg over the other before I sneeze. It’s just a natural reaction in protecting me from the prospect of leakage. Of course, now my children laugh at me.

Surely, this is the circle of life.

I could have a phone conversation without having my home erupting into a state of emergency because the Zombie Apocalypse is upon us.

The telephone rings.

It’s for me.

It’s the Food Ministry Director from church.

            This should be a quick and easy conversation.

“Hi there Twila.”

“Yes I heard that she did have the baby.”

“Oh that sounds like they have a healthy baby boy on their hands.”

“Sure thing, I can definitely take them a…. Are you kidding me? Stop licking you sisters’ face! …meal to them. What night is needed?”

Children, you have been in the same house with me for the last three hours. That is 180 minutes. In that time, you have had no interest in what I have been doing, no toys were losing parts, World War III with each other was not eminent, you were not at the brink of starvation, all of your limbs were fully attached, nothing had been sucked in to a black hole in the universe and yet, as soon as my attention is on someone who does not live in this house YOU suddenly need me because all hell seems to be breaking loss.

WHY?

To my family and friends – apologizes from the woman who appears to be on the verge of insanity during most phone conversations.

My heart belonged to me.

That’s right, people, my heart is not my own anymore. Same goes for my mind. I have lost both organs to the humans that call me mom. Every mother out there knows that the love you have for your children can never compare to any other love in this world.

My heart bursts with joy at the sight of my children’s sweet faces. It beams with pride when they have accomplished something they have been working hard on. And my heart melts into a puddle of goo when they want nothing but time, cuddling in my arms.

They are the first thoughts that pop into my head each morning and they are usually the reason that I can’t sleep at night. I worry about them doing well in school. Are they being kind to others? Are they making good choices? Are they using their manners and loving those they come in contact with?

Sadly, the same heart that holds so much love breaks when they are sick or hurt or need to be punished. As they grow up and start to make their own choices, I can only hope that the qualities I have instilled in them will hold true. I pray they make choices that will make them happy and successful, as well as making me proud. No matter how old they are, this will be my struggle. They will forever be my babies. I will forever worry about them. Forever pray for them.

Still, with all I gave up, what I gained outshines the rest. I will give up my chocolate bars and my alone time to pee, having a normal grown up conversation and the ability to sneeze without having an accident and I will give up a good night’s sleep because of worrying if it means that I get to hear these humans call me mom.

 

Katie headshot

Katie Weise a school librarian with two kids of her own — twins. She’s currently working on a memoir about her eating disorder, and devotes Wednesday nights specifically to writing.

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