Babybook: If Your Baby Was on Social Media

Babybook Selfie!

Babybook Selfie! Just chillin’ in my bouncer.

Ever wonder if your baby is judging you?  Like a miniature teenager blessedly unable to voice their gripes and whines?  Maybe they are.  Here’s what your baby’s social media thread might look like if they were on Babybook.

My reusable diapers make my bottom look big.

Are these bottles BPA free?

The batteries in my mobile died.  Now I’m stuck staring at the ceiling.  Who can sleep like this? Screaming helps.

Are these cheerios genetically modified?

Ma! The humidifier is empty.

Is this white rice cereal or brown?  I’m not eating simple carbs.

Mom’s baby bullet died so I’m having to eat processed, packaged baby food.

My mom got these Nikes at Goodwill.  OMG, that means another kid wore them like, 3 times before me.

Dad bought me disposable diapers with Winnie the Poo instead of Mickey Mouse. #daddyfail

My iPad battery died. Great, now I’m stuck watching Your Baby Can Read on loop.

My mom thinks public breastfeeding is “natural”.  Really? Try being the one having to breast feed in public.  How embarrassing.  I hope none of my friends see me.

Are these crayons non-toxic? Cause I just ate like three of them.

These swim lessons are wack.  Have you seen what a swim diaper does to an adorable two piece?

If I have to listen to another Sonata or hear Bach one more time, I’m going to scream.  Someone put on The Plain White Onesies.

I know this binkie was on the floor more than five seconds.  Apparently blowing on it before you put it back in my mouth is part of the new infant guidelines for sanitary oral pacification methods.

I’m not sure if dad is trying to trim my fingernails or cut off my fingers at the first joint.

Is this breast milk paraben free?

I don’t feel like working out today- think I’ll skip tummy time.

This bib makes me look like I have no neck.

For the love! Can we invest in a wet wipe warmer?

I can’t wait ‘til I’m older and have the cognitive ability to understand physics.  It seems like if my head fit through the bars, it should fit backing out.

Gymboree was packed today.  I’m thinking I need to find somewhere less crowded to workout.

I can’t sleep with this random blankie.  It doesn’t know me.  It doesn’t know what I’ve been through.

This outfit was not washed in Dreft!  I’m all itchy, it’s burning my skin!

Support my neck, rookie.  I’m 2 days old.  I’m only out here because I ran out of room in there.

Where is my Boppy?  It was just here! Mom! I can’t find my… oh, never mind.  Don’t judge me, I’m still extremely near sighted.

Is this person trying to feed me peanut butter? I can’t have peanut butter for at least another six months.  Someone stop grandma! She’s trying to give me a peanut butter allergy and potentially ruin a normal childhood of PB&Js.

Strawberries? Has anyone talked to this woman about how we raise kids these days? I can’t have strawberries yet.  It’s an abomination!

I drank so much last night that I threw up all over dad.  I’ve really got to get off the tit.

Super Dog and G-Man

Today I am posting a children’s short story about a boy and his dog. You could call this the prologue, I suppose. I will write more stories that chronicle the adventures in detail, from the beginning. As a writer, I have several interests. This blog has really helped get my writing out there in a way that would be otherwise relegated to a few close friends and family. I am currently working on finishing a novel that has been in the works for nearly ten years. I will have a completed manuscript by the end of spring and ready to begin the rejection process, um… submission process, starting in the summer. I hope to have some excerpts from that book up very soon, though probably to lead to a separate blog since the content is not exactly relevant to The Tomboy Mommy. I hope you enjoy this prologue and look forward to bringing you more in The Adventures of Super Dog & G-Man.

Super Dog & G-Man

Super Dog sat languishing in boredom, feeling rather perplexed by the human affinity for idleness. She was aware that some breeds of domesticated canines possessed a similar sense, if not downright obsession, with doing positively nothing- outside of eating and relieving themselves on their person’s rug. Super Dog never really saw the appeal. She had always been a Super Dog in her own mind and spent the majority of her waking hours, which were many, convincing her One True Person of that very fact. Super Dog’s person had a partner that shared everything with her, and though her partner was good, he was not Super Dog’s OTP. She and her OTP went hiking together, running together, walking together and truly just enjoying their mutual respect of all things outside. They were inseparable.  But one day her person started to smell differently. She walked in and the smell almost knocked Super Dog over.

A few days went by and the smell intensified. Slowly, Super Dog began to see her OTP behave differently as well. She smelled happier, but in a way that Super Dog had never sensed before. Her other person smelled happier too, but he didn’t carry that thick odor that seemed to pour out of her OTP. And then the real changes came. Her one true person started smelling a lot like throw up, and the strange smell became even stronger and the happy smell was stronger than strong, though it did seem to ebb some as her OTP had her head in that thing that she usually sat on.

Most of all was the way her OTP began to swell. The swelling coincided with the intensification of the strange smell. Sometimes her OTP smelled a little scared but those were usually wafts rather than full on aromas. Months went by and she began to slow down a little. Where they used to go for runs, they now walked, and didn’t go on their adventures. Super Dog found herself as idle as she had ever remembered being. But this was a new adventure, just staying by her OTP’s side day and night. Something about her made it necessary that Super Dog protect and be there for her. The happy smell was beginning to strengthen into excitement now and Super Dog knew something was coming. And then it did.

The strange smell that had been intensifying over the months was gone and in its place was a smell that almost knocked Super Dog over. It was the smell of her OTP’s happiness so amplified, Super Dog thought she might actually wet the carpet for the first time since she was a puppy. Wrapped in that happiness was what she knew must be the source of the strange smell. The smell was no longer coming from inside her OTP. She now held it in her arms and instantly, Super Dog knew she would follow that smell anywhere and protect it at all costs.

G-Force, G-Man didn’t remember being born, nor did he remember coming home. Those first few weeks were a blur. He could smell his mother and recognized her voice somehow. His father had a distinctly different and less intense smell, but was just as reassuring. There was another smell that coincided with moistness to the face but he was unable to figure out what that one was. As his world matured, G-Man began to take for granted those sights and smells around him. He figured out that the other smell and subsequent moist face came from this person that was really hairy and she was always licking his face. There she was when he was in his bouncer. She was there, just outside his crib. She was there when he was doing tummy time. And she was there when he was learning to roll over. She was there when he began crawling and she was there in a particularly helpful way when he began pulling up. When he started walking she gave him a soft place to land. He learned her name was Super Dog and like most things that used to be his mom’s, was now his.

G-man sat under the ancient elm tree in his backyard, with his back resting against the enormous trunk. Three children could sit side by side with their backs against that tree and face one direction, but usually it was just his while Super Dog sat curled up next to him, her face resting on his legs. This was their spot to cool off after their adventures or just before to strategize. G-Man could never recall a time that Super Dog was not by his side. He had no brothers or sisters and other than Super Dog, he was an only child. She stole his toys, sat on his head and did an overall excellent job at being an older sibling. What G-Man did know about Super Dog is that she used to be his mom’s. His mom would tell him stories about their adventures and what an indispensable companion Super Dog was. Every so often G-Man would catch a glimpse of his mom watching him and Super Dog playing from the window. He thought she missed having Super Dog as her own, but G just couldn’t give her up. Besides, he didn’t think that Super Dog would leave him anyway. He wanted his own adventures with her, to go with the stories his mom had.

Super Dog sat with her head resting on G’s leg under her favorite shade tree. The act of resting one’s face in a human’s lap was the truest form of trust and affection. This, however, was not Super Dog’s only motivation. Shy of sitting on him, it was one of the few ways to momentarily keep G-Force, G-Man out of trouble. She should have expected such an offspring from her OTP. It never occurred to her that the strange smell those few years ago would develop into this. Whether he was covered in dirt or peanut butter, he smelled the same and she could always find him, not that she ever let him out of her sight. Though she missed her OTP, she could sense how happy it made her that she took such good care of G-Man. The hardest was when her OTP was scratching her ears, and Super Dog had to get up to follow G-Man out of the room. The smell of pride and disappointment was hard to take, but G-Man could not be trusted alone for more than a second.

Soon after G-Man learned to walk, Super Dog let him toddle into the kitchen alone. He found a sack of flour and covered not only himself but the entire kitchen in less than five minutes. Her OTP was mad and amused and took lots of pictures before washing him up and sending him into the den with her. Super Dog could never understand how humans could feel so many things at once. One emotion at a time was quite enough for her. Dogs were so much easier to understand in that way. When they were happy, they were happy. When they were mad they were mad. They had the good sense to never mix the two. She figured humans would fight a lot less if they had the decency to feel one thing at a time. That was one thing Super Dog loved about G-Man. He hadn’t developed that annoying trait unique to humans. Children cried when they were sad, laughed when they were happy and pooped when they felt like it; though Gray was currently trying to shake the latter. From the smell of things he had failed again.

Their adventures took a different shape from that with her OTP, but no less eventful. If there was one thing Super Dog loved more than anything it was playing catch with her ball. G could throw for hours and she was happy to retrieve it every time. One day he threw it and it rolled away where she could not see it. She sniffed around, tracing from where it hit the ground and began rolling. When she finally found it beneath some brush, and turned to take it back, G-Man was gone. Forgetting to even drop the ball from her mouth, Super Dog darted to the last place she saw him and began tracking him immediately. Since he rarely went anywhere in a straight line, this was harder than one might expect from a canine of Super Dog’s reputation. When still she could not discern a reliable sent, she ran to her OTP and barked furiously. They searched together for what seemed like hours in mommy and dog time, but what would equate to minutes in real time. They found him behind a tree digging a hole with a stick. Super Dog barked at him furiously which did not even remotely convey the distress she felt. Her OTP reeked of anger or fear, it was hard to tell the difference with humans. G-Man was clearly confused as to what all the fuss was about. Super Dog hated herself for getting distracted by that ball. She couldn’t smell it on her, but Super Dog couldn’t help but think she had disappointed her OTP. G didn’t even smell the least bit guilty.

Super Dog sat at G-Mans feet as he played a video game. She was glad he was sitting still a little more lately. Sure, he was still very active, but she couldn’t seem to keep up quite as well. Was he getting faster? His legs were certainly longer. He started smelling differently lately too. What was that smell? It was stronger, similar to her OTP’s partner, but not quite as intense yet. He only seemed to be aware of Super Dog as a companion when he absent mindedly rested his elbow on her back as he worked the controller of his game. Occasionally he would throw her ball, and since she was only game for a few chases, his attention span suited her just fine. She tagged along as he played football at the park and waited for him still when he got off the bus. The other day he ran out the door and let it close before she could follow him. She stood at the door, waiting for him to realize she didn’t make it out the door with him. Her OTP came up behind her and patted her head and Super Dog could smell the sympathy. She followed her OTP back into the living room and sat at her feet where she could still keep an eye on the door. She hated when he forgot her. It seemed to happen more and more frequently these days. Super Dog’s OTP got up and grabbed a leash from the hook by the door. At least she got to spend more time with her OTP when G forgot her. Their walks were all that remained of their adventures.

G-Man knew he was spending less time with Super Dog. She couldn’t really keep up anymore and it seemed to exhaust her to try. He took her running a couple of times but she was so lethargic after, that he couldn’t do it to her. There was something about knowing that she was there while he was on the computer or watching his shows. His girlfriend really liked her. Super Dog often kept in between them to the point he had to push Super Dog out of the way. The hardest part was keeping her out of his car. It was like she could smell when he was going to leave. He loved having her sitting in the seat next to him, her head hanging out the window. She always drew attention from girls, so there was that added bonus of taking her along.

Super Dog couldn’t keep up with G-Man at all anymore. She didn’t even try these days. She staid next to her OTP, followed her to the kitchen, the bathroom, the bedroom, but waited at the door while she went to get the mail. G would come and curl up next to her on the floor from time to time. She could smell the sadness on all of them and wondered why they were all so sad when they came around her. He would sometimes cry while he laid next to her. The only way she could console him was to turn her head and lick his face like she used to. His smells had become far too complex for her to read them all, but she knew sadness. It was all around her these days. She was too tired to do much. Occasionally she couldn’t even make it outside in time. She was so ashamed of herself, especially when she could smell the frustration coming from her OTP. It always subsided quickly back into sadness though.

Super Dog never went anywhere anymore. It was too hard to get up and impossible to get in the car unless someone lifted her in. Today was one of those days. The smell of sadness was almost too strong for Super Dog to endure, especially in the closed confines of the car. They got out at the place that she went sometimes where there were the smells of dogs and cats and fear and happiness and sickness. They had to help her in and she knew there was something different about this visit. They stood around her crying and hugging her, lying on top of her. She wanted to make them feel better, but she couldn’t even lift her head. Why was she so tired? Why did this smell like good-bye? They all squeezed her one more time and left the room except her OTP. It was just the two of them and the one that smelled of sick and something that smelled like sadness but not real sadness. That one left the room and it was just she and OTP. Super Dog definitely smelled good-bye and really, had to admit that she knew it was time. She couldn’t take care of them anymore, couldn’t go on anymore adventures. Super Dog laid her head in OTP’s lap and closed her eyes, smelling the love that exuded from her OTP until she was overcome by it. It smelled of, I love you. Good-bye. It smelled of a new adventure.

4 Tips to Lose That Baby Weight and Get Back in Shape

I have been consumed with thoughts, ideas and reflections of motherhood recently- being 8 months pregnant will do that to you. But the name of this blog is The Tomboy Mommy. That means I go out and get strawberries on my butt from sliding into second during a slow-pitch softball game where absolutely nothing is on the line except my status as a tomboy. It means I train at a dojo, covered head to toe in bruises and the sweat of other people’s spouses. It means I ride a mountain bike and flip over the handlebars and land in cactus. I just never outgrew playing. I am going to share with you 4 tips I used to lose the baby weight after struggling to get back to my pre-baby, Tomboy fitness. First though I’ll share the difficulty of the road back in hopes it resonates with other mommies, Tomboys or otherwise.

Pre-baby body.  This is in a rugby match so this was "heavy" for me so I didn't sustain so many injuries.

Pre-baby body. This is in a rugby match so this was “heavy” for me so I didn’t sustain so many injuries.

I’ve never been much of an organized exerciser, like to just exercise for weight loss. I was active so it just naturally kept me fit. Then I had a kid, via C-section no less, which meant a long recovery. I wasn’t going to get to be in red carpet shape in 6 weeks like the celebs. I seriously thought I would be. What I didn’t realize then was that celebrities have personal chefs, nannies, personal trainers, personal assistants and yeah, the motivation to be on the red carpet in front of the paparazzi in 6 weeks. Hell, anyone can get in shape with that kind of support team. I was arrogant and knew I was too active to hang on to baby weight like most women. Hahahahahaha!

Throw in the C-section, relocating and leaving behind my support system of playmates and familiar places to play. Add a horrible post partum diet and, dadgum if I didn’t end up significantly out of shape. When I say I out of shape, I don’t mean, not fit. I mean, my shape, the actual shape of my body, was bizarro. I couldn’t tell if I was pear shaped or apple shaped. I was more hot pocket and pepperoni shaped, as those were two staples of my post-partum diet.

1 year post partum.  That's me in the background looking like a Jenny Craig before pic.  The fabulous woman in the foreground is my sister, Brooke, mother of 3.

1 year post partum. That’s me in the background looking like a Jenny Craig before pic. The fabulous woman in the foreground is my sister, Brooke, mother of 3.

Finally deciding I had to break into the “playground” in my local area, I began attending an MMA dojo near my house. Having trained martial arts on and off before, I loved it! It was odd making my athletic mind reconcile to my unathletic body. I tried to be quick and agile, because my mind has always said, do this, and my body did it. Apparently hot pockets don’t move that agilely on a 33 year old post-partum body. I loved training at the dojo with amazing people, but outside of the fitness issue, which would not keep me from training- that would be counterproductive, was the breast feeding. Wrestling around on the ground with a bunch of guys smashing you into the mats is uncomfortable. Do it with tender breasts that my husband didn’t even get to look at, let alone touch, and it felt like breast milk was seeping from my tear ducts as they made a simple pass (a jiu jitsu move, not an inappropriate attempt at amorous attention). I quit going with the promise to myself that I would go back as soon as my son was weened (I did, by the way, which is how I got back into shape, but more on that later). I was lost and physically destitute and depressed. I had no one to play with, no friends. I felt sorry for myself, ate another package of pepperonis in one sitting and continued the cycle.

Continuing the cycle.  Notice how the muffin top serves well as a baby seat.

Continuing the cycle. Notice how the muffin top serves well as a baby seat.

I didn’t want to exercise for the sake of exercise. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I wanted to play, not run in place on a treadmill or elliptical. At least I would have been active, but no, I’m an all or nothing type so my shape continued to devolve into mush.

I ended up figuring it all out, though it took more than a year post-partum to get back into a shape. So I’m going to share with you the 4 things I did to regain control of my body and mind.

1. Find your support system
You have to find this. You must! I don’t care what your circumstance, you have to have this. This can come in the form of your spouse or other family members, but let’s be honest, family dynamics are not always conducive to building each other up. Single mom? Spouse doesn’t care? Find an online accountability group or engage with others at your gym that are trying to accomplish the same things you are. Do this even if you have a supportive family. Look, not everyone is going to support you. They’re going to make cracks about your new routine and eating habits. Commiserate with your support group, they’ll be experiencing the same things. You think Heidi Klum had people making fun of her for eating baby carrots instead of bread sticks? Hell no, they wouldn’t dare. You don’t have that luxury. People will try to pull you down because they can’t do what you’re doing. Do it anyway and connect with whatever support group you have. Surround yourself with the people you want to be like and the people who are like you.

2. Fix your diet
There’s a reason why this is number 2. Outside of a support system, if the only thing you did was change your eating habits, your weight would change significantly (the word, weight, is used intentionally here, we change our shape by doing activities that improve our strength and conditioning). It’s also the hardest thing to do. Before we continue it must be emphasized: do not go on a diet! Diets are temporary, which means the weight loss associated with them are temporary. If you want to lose 10 pounds to fit into a bridesmaids dress or into a slinky number for a party, a diet (within reason) isn’t horrible. As long as you are aware it is a temporary fix. For long term change of body composition, you must make a lifestyle change.

Look, changing your diet is hard enough without making it a committed relationship, but think of it that way. Sheesh, let’s make it a little more intimidating, right? Like any good relationship though, it gets easier and more comfortable with fewer awkward moments- like when you drool over a slice of pizza walking by when your grilled chicken Caesar salad lunch date is sitting right there in front of you. You’re going to cheat, in fact, in this kind of relationship, I encourage it at least once a week. You don’t have to go slumming completely, but a smooch on the lips with a donut or the occasional torrid affair with a Big Mac is not going to ruin this kind of relationship. If you completely loose your mind and run off on a week long affair, don’t beat yourself up- acknowledge the infidelity and start again. This is like the greatest relationship ever! Play the field, date around. Find out which healthy foods you like and how you like to prepare them. Don’t eat quinoa because that’s the fad. If you can’t prepare it in a way that is satisfying then ditch it- you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life. The fact is, the hardest part is the beginning. If you can gut your way through a month of new eating habits, you gain this momentum that you just can’t stop. Even if you want that sultry, steaming cheeseburger, you realize you don’t want to break the good thing you’ve worked so hard on. It has become a committed relationship. Good for you! But I still encourage cheating.

3. Find your MFEO workout/activity
Have you ever seen Sleepless in Seattle? If you haven’t, why the hell not? Stop reading and go watch it, this can wait. Ok, do it after you read this, but do it. It has nothing to do with fitness but it’s a classic. Anyway, MFEO means Meant For Each Other, and explains why Annie and Sam, complete strangers, should meet and fall in love. This is you and your workout.

My MFEO workout- Mixed Martial Arts.

My MFEO workout- Mixed Martial Arts.

You have to be MFEO, otherwise, why bother? You sacrifice and pine for your workout if you’re made for each other. You look forward to seeing it, to the exhaustion and elation after. You must find each other. “You have to find her, you have to go to her…It’s YOH, your only hope.” Sorry for the direct quote, I could do that for the entire movie. Your workout may be an exercise video, running, obstacle races, crossfit, martial arts. It just needs to be something that you look forward to and enjoy doing- or maybe enjoy once you’re done. That’s an important concept people who don’t regularly workout don’t understand. It’s not necessarily the workout itself, but the feeling when you’re done. If you don’t find the workout or activity you’re meant to be with it’s, “H and G. Hi and Good-bye.”

4. Get Workout Videos
Find a workout video that you really like so you can work out from home when you can’t get out. I suggest you go to www.beachbody.com, the makers of P90x, Insanity and TurboFire. They have lots of great programs, online support and even coaches to help you find the right program for you and to offer support during your fitness process. I used to be a Beachbody coach, so I know the company pretty well. I have no affiliation anymore and get no compensation for referring them, at all. If all you can afford is a $10 exercise video from Wal-Mart, get it. One of my all time favorites is Sweatin’ to the Oldies. I still do it several times a month! I also really like the RushFit DVD series from Georges St Pierre, recently retired welter weight UFC champ. You’re going to be stuck inside, find a way to workout at home.

2 years post-partum after using the 3 tips to get back in shape.

2 years post-partum after using the 4 tips to get back in shape.

These 4 tips should get you started. I get to start all over in 6 weeks, so I’ll be utilizing this advice again shortly. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared that I could spiral back down into that self-loathing and depression after I have my baby, or even just plain ol’ complacency. I don’t care if you’re 6 weeks post-partum, 1 year post-partum or 10 years post-partum. You can get back in shape. We can do it- we deserve it.

I’d be happy to help. Shoot me a message at thetomboymommy@gmail.com or just leave a comment. I’ll be the first person in your support group and your number one fan!

Conversations With a Toddler

I had several interesting conversations and interactions with my 2 year old yesterday. Our regular conversation these days revolves around penises and who does and does not have them. We have a running list of male and female acquantances of all species that have to be confirmed as to their genitalia.

Does daddy have a penis? Yes. Mommy can’t have a penis? No. Janie (our dog) have a penis? No, she’s a girl. Girls can’t have a penis, mommy. Right. Atticus (our recently deceased dog) has a penis. Yes, he used to. Atticus can’t have a penis anymore? No, baby he died. You miss Atticus? Yes, very much. You sad? Sometimes. CatCat(our cat) can’t have a penis. Right, she’s a girl. Boys have a penis, girls can’t have a penis, mommy.

So this is our regular conversation we usually get to have in the privacy of our own home and with various relatives and classmates included in the penis or no penis role call. There are times when this almost verbatim conversation occurs when we are in a public restroom where the acoustics are wonderful. Yesterday we added a conversation about me having to poop. If there’s anything worse then being caught having to poop in public it’s having a color commentator accompanying you. Then at another store we had to sit through my 2 year old pooping with all the grunts, plops and commentary that come with it. None of this, waiting for someone to flush to really let go or any of the other tactics appropriately abashed public poopers employ. At least if we had been in a Walmart bathroom where everyone seems to let go with reckless abandon, it might have been less embarrassing. There’s something more intimate and sophisticated about the three stall Barnes & Noble bathroom though.

This behavior is not relegated to just boys. My nieces used to open the stall door and run out while I was using the bathroom, leaving it wide open and giggling as I admonished them. I’m sure my sisters will find that hilarious because it’s totally something I would do at that age. Hell, I’d do it now, especially that my nieces are old enough to be properly mortified. I had to wait for them to age enough for the proper revenge. I’ve noticed now though that some of the larger handicap stalls have seats with buckles hanging on the walls so you can strap your kid down so they don’t dart under the stall or as just mentioned, through the door, leaving it ajar. This just seems like cheating to me and I see the chair as a better use for a public timeout. Ok, I’m totally kidding but it does remind me of some sort of punishment rather than a child containment system for you to use the restroom in public without worrying about your kid taking off.

Of course we have too many conversations to count about farting, which for some reason my son thinks needs announcing, outside of the foghorn he just blasted in front of everyone in the checkout line. Seems redundant to me to declare it at that point, but to each his own. These conversations and incidents don’t really embarrass me, I find them more amusing than anything, but adjusting to the blatancy with which a child declares his bodily functions does take some acclimation.

I would be interested in hearing some of your stories of life in the trenches. Drop me a line in the comments or shoot me an email at thetomboymommy@gmail.com with your embarrassing stories. Let’s compile a list of embarrassing and amusing stories we can share with other parents. When I get a few together I’ll publish them in one of my posts with direct quotes and your name (assuming you want to be identified), and a link to your blog if you have one. I say take credit for you child’s awesomeness, even if that comes in the celebration of a really excellent belch.

How I Came to be a Parent

I was always hell bent on never having children. That was certainly not a reflection of my affinity and compatibility with children, it was more a compulsion to remain childlike myself. I was an adult child, which is altogether less common than the famed syndrome would have us believe, and being only partially responsible enough for myself, could not imagine having a tiny human relying on me for all of their wants and needs.

I dressed up the excuse in whatever cause gave my choice the most credibility at the time; like the overpopulation of the planet and, oddly, my reasoning was the same as it is for pet overpopulation- there were plenty that needed good homes. At some point I reasoned that not having children was not detrimental to my ability to pass on my genes. I was content in the accumulation of genes through my nieces and nephews. At 25 percent per niece and nephew I had 1.75 children which, I believe, is the national average- and now that would be higher with the subsequent births of more nieces and nephews. So, all in all I was doing pretty well in my rationalization of not producing an heir to the Avengerdom.

My sisters did try to reason with me, if you consider blatant mockery of my self-imposed bareness to be reason. As the second born of five girls, reason was seldom ever considered as a viable approach to any situation. Mockery was more likely to be utilized in response to most of my actions and socially poignant behaviors. For example, during the entire eleven years I was a strict vegetarian my sister, Brooke, insisted I was letting my one allotted cow in life rot in waste. The reasoning: every American probably consumes approximately the equivalent of one cow in their lifetime. Since I did not become a vegetarian until I was 21, I consumed only part of my cow, leaving its life sacrificed in vain. It was at about the same time I became a vegetarian that I decided that I did not want children, which coincided with the same time I became agnostic and aside from my sisters threatening to tell our Granny that I didn’t believe in God, they were more aggrieved that I refused to reproduce.

At this point in time our oldest sister, Jennifer, was the only one with children, though Brooke had just announced she was pregnant. It was on our sisters trip that I casually mentioned that I was never having children and would like to have a hysterectomy, as this would somehow prove my dedication to ending the overpopulation of the planet. Their response was as rational as Brooke’s no cow left behind theory. I was told that I could not have a hysterectomy, not because I might regret it one day, but because they might need my uterus. If one of them could not have children they may need me as a surrogate. Knowing that I would do anything for one of them, including the letting out of my uterus, this was the most effective way to get me to keep my uterus intact until I could see I really did want children.

When that moment came that I realized I did indeed want a child, I wasn’t too concerned with the overpopulation of the earth. I had married an older guy, 28 years my senior, and realized I would not get to grow old with him. He had already grown old (well, older), and I wanted a kid that encapsulated the two of us, kinda like a human time capsule. We tried for a couple years but when we never got pregnant, we gave up trying. We resorted instead to not, not trying, which meant we just kept doing what we were doing but with the understanding that, we were probably not going to get to have children together. You can imagine our surprise when we ended up pregnant.

Now my husband is 64, I, 36, and here were are, yet again, stunned to be pregnant. In a few short weeks we’ll have another baby, my second and his sixth, and I’ll be having a permanent fix to preventing having anymore- though not as drastic as having my entire uterus removed, but with the exclusion of my baby sister who has not yet started having kids, all of my other sisters have proven they have perfectly viable uteruses and won’t be needing mine. I can now impede my reproductive system, chemical free, and feel only slight regret at the finality of never having another child. I’m done, I know I’m done, but I was granted two amazing surprises for which I had not otherwise planned. I always thought I would adopt and maybe I can still provide a home to a child that needs one.

Remembering How to Play: Children and Their Roles as Stewards of the Imagination

Watching a toddler play with toys in the manner in which they were designed to be played is entertaining, but taking ordinary objects that you and I as adults take for granted at their function and turning them into master pieces of the imagination, that is a miracle of childhood- a magic that dissipates casually and without our notice. It’s just, one day, we neglect to play and only have time to take the object at face value. All of the sudden we stop playing. We find other outlets for our creativity, maybe. Every so often we let down our guard and allow a hair brush to become a microphone. Here lies one of the miracles of having children. They remind you that a blanket can be a cape or a fort or can even make you invisible.

It’s amazing to me how, to a toddler, a chair is more than just a chair. My toddler has an ugly little garage sale rocking chair that looks like it was built circa 1960 for a grumpy old little person to sit in and chain smoke. For my toddler it is certainly a place to sit and watch his shows (minus the chain smoking), but it also serves as a terrific surfboard while standing in the seat and rocking. Flip it back onto its back and it becomes a little table to play with legos or put a plate for eating. Turn it upside down and throw a blanket over it and you have a great little fort. These are just a few of the configurations that my son has come up with. There are several more that amuse and impress me with their functionality. And because it is so ugly, I certainly couldn’t begrudge him adding his own artwork, turning an ugly canvas into his masterpiece

Your children remind you to not take yourself so seriously, especially when you open a notebook at work for a meeting that you have been stressing over and the margins are graffitied with your child’s scribbles. Children provide perspective. They remind you that you once lived simply and creatively. Creativity is a muscle that atrophies with age, if not exercised regularly. Our children grab our hands in their dimpled knuckles and pull us back to a time when it was perfectly logical, entirely necessary and effortlessly natural to speak to the voice on the other end of the imaginary phone. They are the stewards of imagination, curators of that most valuable of commodities in the human brain- that which says, look at this blank screen and imagine what it could say.