Like many of you fine people, I appreciate a good dose of irony. In literature. In life. In Alanis Morissette lyrics. (Hey. Let’s not get nit-picky.)
Still, there’s something a little bit ironic I can’t support when it comes to parenting. And that irony is this:
The very act responsible for creating a baby becomes increasingly difficult to enjoy once said baby is in the works.
First, there’s the GESTATING. I’ve heard some women kick into sexual overdrive while expecting. These ladies also bake pies from scratch, pair socks straight from the dryer, and care about Monday Night Football. They’re just like me. Except not.
Because my pregnancy trifecta looked like this:
Tired. Hungry. Tired. I wanted a nap. A turkey sandwich. Maybe a 36-ounce porterhouse and another nap. I did not want anyone singing “Having my Baby” while pawing at me. Much.
Mercifully, the little darlings arrive, and thus begins the LACTATING. Engorging and latching and pumping, oh my! Let’s face facts, friends. Nipple cream, breast pads, and nursing bras are not the props of porn. (And please do not share links that might dispel this belief. I prefer to avoid baking AND the potential overlap between suckling and sexy.)
Eventually the infant phase passes, just in time for the REARING of your offspring. (This is the brave new world Aldous Huxley avoided.) You’ll face feeding struggles, sleep issues, discipline conflicts, sobbing. And that’s just with your partner.
Because the kid brings along his own set of troubles, and also craps himself for years. There’s little time for justice. And even less occasion for intimacy. (Besides whatever romance you can muster during an episode of—let’s say—Modern Family.)
But then, one glorious day, all your delayed gratification culminates in the Final Parenting Frontier:
IGNORING the teenager in your house.
This stage presents a unique challenge, since the fruit of your loins may stay up later than you do; in fact he may roam the grounds turning doorknobs, creaking floorboards, leaving you to worry he’ll burst into your bedroom while you’re—let’s say—watching Modern Family.
I have friends who scoff at potential “television disruptions.” If their kid walks in? That’s his problem, mister!
Still. I recall the one and only time I “disrupted” my parents, and thus torched the 36-ounce porterhouse of my brain.
I was sixteen and working the afterschool shift at a local bakery, but we were overstaffed for the day, so my manager relieved me of duty. Naturally, I grabbed a croissant (okay, maybe two) and fled the premises before he could rethink his choice.
Because this was the Stone Age (pre-cell phones), my parents received no warning to shut their bedroom door. I arrived in time to discover them in flagrante delicto (although in my memory, it was less delicto and more flagrante).
Yes, with only half a croissant left to comfort me, I’d stumbled upon the Grotto at the Playboy Mansion; but in lieu of cave-like ambience, we had Broad Daylight to illuminate the celebration at hand.
I’ll admit that for decades, I sought words more severe than “horrifying” to describe this experience. But once I had teenagers living under my own roof, I revisited the math. Recent calculations suggest poor Mom and Dad were thirty-eight when I caught them in all their irony. Younger than I am now.
So, yeah. I am, therefore, hereby issuing a formal apology. And it goes something like this:
Dear Mom and Dad,
I’m very, very sorry. For that day. For this post. And while it’s true that your Convergence of the Twain remains seared into my memory like grill marks on a three-pound steak, the encounter was for the greater good, as it convinced me I never want my own children (your grandchildren!) to experience a similar trauma. I’m also sorry for that period of time I moved home in my twenties.
Your loving (in private) daughter,
P.S. Thanks for the recommendation. Modern Family is a pretty good show.
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** A version of this post previously appeared on the blog of the marvelous Suniverse. She is rad. Check her out.