Before I had children, I was a kid fanatic. I loved them - especially the babies. That fresh from heaven smell, those sweet tufts of hair, the toothless grins…it was pure gold. I would sit on the ground (back when my knees still worked) and play with them for hours on end. I was an eager babysitter who frequently volunteered to give new parents a night out on the town so I could get my baby fix.
I was a camp counselor and Sunday school teacher.
I read parenting magazines.
And I couldn't wait to one day have a baby of my very own.
Fast forward seven years. After having three consecutive sons in 40 months, my tune has changed. I now get very surprised looks whenever someone tries to sic a baby on me:
No thanks. I'm good.
Oh, I just had a Mike's Hard Lemonade and I certainly wouldn't want to drop the little darling on her head.
This one smells. Got another? (When someone hands me a freshly pooped baby in hopes that I'd change the diaper).
I don't babysit. I don't gush. I don't hold. So stop asking. Many experienced mothers can relate, but it seems a lot of men and new moms don't quite get it. They figure you've got a uterus, so naturally you'd want to hold their screaming and puking tot as you wear your new Eddie Bauer sweater that you bought with a 20 percent off coupon and only after it went on clearance.
Sorry, but I paid my dues. I wore stretched and stained clothes for years. I ate lukewarm food at parties. I took three kids to OBGYN appointments and pap smears. I worked and shelled out most of my income to babysitters. I traversed icy preschool parking lots with an infant and two toddlers. I woke sleeping babies to handle school, work, and doctor appointments. I know it's hard, but I got nothing left. I feel like Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree." I am just an old stump.
Now there are naturally some exceptions to my anti-kid stance. If you have a remarkably well-behaved kid, I thaw a little. If your kid has a good sense of humor, he can stay. Nieces and nephews are given a little extra leeway and consideration as well. I won't make them cry. On purpose anyway.
So how did a one-time kid enthusiast become so anti-kid?
For me, I think the love that I feel for my own children and the endless work involved have sucked me dry. Each day is a battle to instill civility, manners, intelligence and kindness. It is truly the hardest job I ever had, and I feel like a miserable failure most of the time. Before I was a mother, I liked the idea of babies. As a mother, I now prefer the idea of my grown children calling me up one day to thank me for helping raise the Harvard-educated, philanthropic leaders of the civilized world.
My blog, my dreams.
I spoke with an older friend about my lost infatuation of children, and she assured me that my pro-kid heart would indeed grow back one day (kind of like when the Grinch spied little Cindy-Lou Who in the corner on Christmas Eve).
When? I asked.
I just couldn't imagine ever being anxious to wipe a nose, change a diaper, or hold a screaming newborn ever again.
She smiled, winked, and answered mischievously:
Just in time for grandchildren.
Oh crap. I forgot about that.
Marianne is mother of three sons and the wife of a southside Irish fireman. She has learned that sometimes you're just too dumb to know what makes you happy. She blogs regularly at We Band of Mothers (webandofmothers.com) and curses with even greater frequency. Her material is written for the imperfect, the imprudent, and the impatient mothers who know that all this stuff is really very funny if you just give it a minute.
See more of Marianne's stories here.