So while we're on the subject of age, I might mention that one gets to the point when she knows she will not have any more children and is presented with the issue of what to do about it. I mention this simply because I thought I had reached that point over the summer. 8 kids under 12 staying under one roof will do that to a lady, and I left Connecticut determined to get these dang tubes tied...and fast.
Now I love my girls and all, but I was never a big baby person. Generally I have no need to hold someone else's baby, I'm maternal and all, but it's not just oozing out of me. Give me a 3 year old any day of the week and I'd be happy. But babies? No thanks. It's possible that I wasn't born this way. My parents were just here for a visit and brought stacks of photos from my childhood for me to grow nostalgic over and for Elliot to laugh at. What I noticed from the photos was that I either had a baby doll or a dog in all of the pictures. It was easy to see what I would become. I was destined to be a dog loving mother and teacher, but I seemed to like babies a whole lot more then than I do now.
But people ask me, and often, if we are planning on having any more kids. To give them a general idea, I usually respond with, "Elliot would rather chop his penis off than have any more children." Way to cut 'em off at the pass. It's not even up for discussion. All embarrassment aside, I've done it. I've had all the kids I'm gonna have, and I'm grateful each day for these girls, because it was not an easy road to get them here safely. But I think my initial motherhood experience with TWO babies was so stressful, it sort of turned me off of babies altogether. So the decision to not have any more kids was straight forward...sort of. Now jump in anytime here to tell me how crazy I am, but it's not the actual kids that make me wistful, it's the idea of that time in my life being past. I'm the experienced mother now, the one who knows what I'm doing. The one who younger mothers call to find out how much Tylenol to give or what to do about teething or tantrums. So there. I said it. I just can't get over the feeling that my ship has sailed, and it's a little tough to accept.
And it's only now that I am cognizant of how much I enjoy the new phase we are in. No diapers, no cribs, still screaming and the occasional tantrum, but in general life has become less "Management" and more living. So given all of these factors, why should I care? We have finally reached the point I had dreamed about for many strenuous years of early childhood when you'd turn your back for two seconds and the twins would be hanging from the dining room chandelier or something. So with this new phase comes some relief. I didn't cry when we took the crib apart, and I happily sent my Maclaren double stroller, which was once an appendage for me, to China to be used in an Orphanage.
But I can see how my new puppy who joined our family this year, became sort of, er, my baby. I think in a way, I still had some nurturing left in me as this little guy, while a complete pest, has been attached to me since May. But the thing is, I have begun to grasp the hard way that you just cannot do this with dogs. "I think you might be humanizing him a little bit," our dog trainer has said. Um, affirmative. I get it, but something in me just couldn't help it. I began to realize my further need to nurture this summer when I had some girls over while Elliot was away one night. They are chatting and drinking wine and one of them took this photo....
Ok one pic says it all, this was not normal. I could have been socializing with all of my buddies and there I was, practically breast feeding the dog in the corner. But who could help it? A dog doesn't talk back, or tell you he doesn't like your cooking, or get pissed when you try to tell him what to wear. So I think I've gotten to the heart of my issue. This past week after dinner I was trying to get some work done and Elliot comes in to where the computer is and asks "Have you seen 'Dumb and Dumber'?" and I replied with, "I dunno, I told them to get in bed 20 minutes ago..." It never occured to me that he was asking about the dogs not Sumner and Marshall. Now I know it sounds mean of me, I really am the most loving of mothers, but if you knew these girls you would see why I might have thought he was talking about them. They seem to get into the most trouble and do the wildest, stupidest things right around bedtime. Oops...
So before I get even more complainey, I will say that all of this family stuff is the toughest thing we do. It's exhausting and exhilarating and maddening and joyful. There are some days when I embrace it, and days when all I want to do is retreat from it. It's so funny because before we had kids, or when we were thinking about having kids, all I wanted was to see Elliot and me with a baby. Then we have two babies and all I wanted was to get him alone without a baby. Go figure.