Bad Parenting

Bad Parenting

My parenting style has had time to evolve over the last four years to the point where I feel like I can now say I actually have a parenting style.  I’m realizing I’m kind of an aunt mommy.  I was an aunt for so long, that by the time I had my first kid at the age of 33, it was sort of ingrained in me.

I’m not sure how well this will translate into good parenting, or resulting in children that society cares to be in possession of, but as far as that goes,

I don’t really want my kids too concerned with what society does or doesn’t want out of them.

I expect certain tenets of faith, charity, gratitude and confidence from them, and accomplishing those, I think the rest will take care of itself.

Here are a few of my offenses as a bad parent.

I yell at my kids.

I hate myself for it, but I’m a yeller.

I cuss in front of my kids.

I explain that I’m an adult so I can use words I won’t let them use.  Look, the real world is full of double standards, they need to get used to it and be able to tell the difference between what they can do and what a grown up can do.

I use a wooden spoon to smack a leg.

You can thank me when my child is a decent human being rather than a brat that knows you’re not going to do anything to him other than time out.  Don’t get me wrong, we utelize time-outs, but sometimes a more expedient form of redirection is more appropriate.  Don’t bother commenting on how you feel about swats, I don’t care.

I let my kids stay up late.

Look, I don’t want to start my day at 6am, and I don’t have to.  The kids still get a full night’s sleep. I don’t see why our day has to start at the crack of dawn. It doesn’t.  I take them to daycare about 9:30 on the days they go.

I turned both my kids to forward facing at one.  

Again, don’t bother commenting; I don’t care if your child is rear facing until they’re ten, I trust your judgement as a parent.  I’ve seen comment wars about safety and mommy shaming.  One group goes as far as to say, “cast it rather than casket.”, in regards to their legs being all bunched up rear facing.  Is this the mentality that parenting has succumbed to?  Get over yourselves. Ugh.

I let my kids drink soda and eat sugar.

The thing is, my kids prefer water and that’s all they drink all day, and usually all they will ask for.  But if they get a coke with dinner when we’re out, I don’t think it’s going to stunt their growth.  The old adage, everything in moderation, including being overkill health food nazis, applies.

I let my kids talk back a little.  

This one is hard for me as I was raised by a drill sergeant.  Literally.  My father was a drill sergeant.  But, I struggle with them completely acquiescing to authority figures.  Authority figures can be wrong, deceitful, dishonest and not have your best interest at heart.  I want them to have the ability to discern between reasonable and unreasonable requests from authority figures.

I don’t coddle my kids when they fall (or fail).

We’ll be at the playground and they will take a pretty good tumble or have a pretty good wreck.  I don’t jump up and run to their aid.  I give them a second to catch their breath and assess themselves, self-sooth.  The exception is if they’re doing that holding their breath before crying thing, I’m there in a split second.  Most of the time they come to me crying a little still.  I ask them if they are ok, offer a hug and send them back out to attempt the same thing that just upset them.

I don’t teach my kids to let others win.

My older son was watching a cartoon and the moral was that the really good person should let the lesser skilled kids win.  I made him change the channel and won’t let him watch that carton anymore.  Are you freaking kidding me?  In real life, some people are better at things than others.  Whether that’s in the workplace, sports, driving, whatever.  I do believe in them assessing a situation and responding according to their values of being decent human beings.  Crushing people younger or disabled is not acceptable, but to go easy on someone your age who is perfectly capable of competing, just not as well as you, in order to keep the status quo and let everyone be winners?  Um, no.  There will be things that my boys lose at.  They can either work hard and get better, or accept that maybe they aren’t very good at that skill, and even if they work harder, may still not be as good at as the other kid.

Find something you are good at and crush it, while enjoying whatever other thing they are not so awesome at.

I believe in punching bulies in the mouth, not tattling.  

We were watching another cartoon that said if you’re being bullied it’s ok to be a tattle tell.  There was a whole song about it.  My older son asked me about it, because it did not jive with what I hold told him to do.  I said, no, if a bully hits you or messes with you, stand up to him.  Bullies pick easy targets.  The ones that stand up to them are not worth the effort.  If you tattle, it will only make it worse.  A teacher or a parent cannot always be there for them.  Adult bullies are the same.  If you punch them in the mouth either physically or metaphorically, depending on what fits the offense, they will back off.  Even if you get your butt kicked standing up for yourself, you are no longer an easy target.  I promise this is true.  I have been both the bully and the bullied.

Look, I’m not writing some parenting manifesto that all parents should adhere to.

This is how I parent.

I have this crazy notion that there is more than one way to raise a child, not some homogenized standard to which we all must adhere.  Let’s ease up on each other and support parenting of all styles.

Time will tell how my kids end up, and I will NOT take full responsibility.

I’ll take a lot, but at some point, my kids are going to be responsible for their own choices, that’s why I give them opportunities to fail and succeed based off of what they choose to do.  Want to jump off the top of the playground toy?  Go for it, let me know how it turns out.  If I run over and stop them, I’ll have to always be there to stop them.  Obviously anything more than a few feet off the ground would warant an intervention.  But if the result is going to be a hard landing, I won’t have to worry about convincing him not to jump off the 20ft high toy.  They will have a frame of reference to the lower jump. I think kids are smart enough to extrapolate this out to other experiences in their lives.

My job is not to always be there for them.

I’ll only be there for them a short percentage of their lifetime.  My job is to prepare them to be out there without me, and hopefully come back every now and again for a hug and a kiss.

Sleep When Your Baby Sleeps…Not! How To Win at Nap Time.

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I think perhaps my biggest conundrum as a stay at home or work from home parent is what to do when the kids nap.  Now, both my boys, one and four, go to daycare (or school as we call it) 3 times a week, so I do have some respite.  But when they are home I have to consider what to accomplish during that 1-2 hrs when they are asleep.

People who say to sleep when your baby sleeps either haven’t raised a baby in ten years, or they are only repeating what they’ve heard a thousand times.  This advice is the crappiest advice you can give someone with young children.  Here’s what I think about when my kids sleep.

Should I spend this time cleaning the kitchen since the baby won’t be around to pull everything out of the dishwasher as soon as I put it in there?

I could vacuum while the baby isn’t around to try to sit on top of the thing, rather than being afraid of it like a normal child.  No, too loud.

Toddler On Board

I could get some writing done without cartoons blaring in the background and the baby pounding on the keyboard so I have to backspace more than I actually type.

I could workout, bahahahahaha

Ok, I could fold some laundry while the baby isn’t here to unfold it as quickly as I fold it, and my preschooler isn’t here insisting I laugh as hard the hundredth time he puts his underwear on his head.

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I could just sit here and stare at the wall and do absolutely nothing other than beat myself up for doing absolutely nothing.

Ooh, I could take a bath and maybe even have time to shave my legs!  What’s the point?

By the time I consider all of my options, the kids are halfway through their naps, or at least the baby is.  The four year old doesn’t nap anymore, but he’s at least semi self-sufficient, so I can get some stuff done.

The problem is, any one of the tasks I choose to do leave me feeling guilty for not accomplishing the other ones.  I know I laughed at it above, but I usually end up working out.  Hey, it gives me some tension relief to fold clothes while they are unfolded, load the dishwasher as it’s being unloaded, vacuum with toddling jockey on board, and though the stink has compounded due to the workout and no time to bathe, the day somehow feels more manageable.

“That” Mom…

A Facebook friend recently posted an update, prefacing the post with an apology for being “that” mom, and then proceeded to explain her daughter’s immune system and how she was going to be extra diligent in protecting her infant from exposure to and the possible transmission of germs. It made me consider how many times I had jokingly referred to myself as “that” mom and did so apologetically.

istockphoto.com/mj007

istockphoto.com/mj007

But why should we apologize for being “that” mom? Why can’t we just be “mom”? To whom are we apologizing? The answer is probably a little disconcerting. My guess is, we’re apologizing to other moms. Sorry, but, if you don’t have kids, I don’t care what you think about raising kids. Period. Unless of course you’re Jesus.

Being a mom is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I somehow do everything the hard way, so that’s saying something. I became a mom as a 33 year old, fully grown (or at least as fully grown as I am capable) woman. I think this “advanced maternal age” (a medically defined delineation), prepared me to deal with the opinions of what others think about my parenting decisions, but I’m not totally immune.

My mom taught me a very valuable lesson that used to drive me nuts, but I find is incredibly effective and succinct:

Get over it.

As her child growing up, I found it a little inconsiderate, but even, and perhaps especially, your kids have to be lumped into the crowd that do not get an opinion about how you raise your kids (especially since they’re cross referenced in those who don’t have them). Of course, now that I do have kids her advice to me is still the same when I lament how she might have done better. In the lack of abuse and neglect, if you have an opinion that thrusts me into the category of “that” mom, and I don’t validate or empower it, get over it.

I’m protecting my child, not you, you narcissistic pain in my ass.

You see, when a woman becomes a mother, she gets a target painted on her back, typically by other mothers and by a few passersby who are just bored. The thing is, most moms are just doing the best they can. So, before you label another mom as “that” mom, consider whether that target on your back has recently throbbed with a direct hit or there is dust on your hands from the last stone you cast. I dust my hands off more often than I care to admit, so this is advice I’m heeding myself. I don’t want to be “that” mom.

The Overscheduled Child

Gray Swimming

In a society of not enough, how do we decide when enough is enough for our children? I am experiencing this with my 3 year old. He is in swimming twice a week and horseback riding lessons once a week. Tee ball is about to start, he would love a gymnastics class and already thinks he’s a ninja, so karate would be great for him. I’d really like to get him started on an instrument, even if it’s banging randomly on some drums. I’m wondering though, how in the world do I offer these opportunities without over stimulating him and overstretching me?

There are articles all over the internet about the dangers of overscheduling your kids and not just letting them be kids. They talk about how our kids are no longer able to entertain themselves, don’t know what to do with themselves if their lives are not planned and scheduled with activities. Yeah, they do.

Kids’ default setting is destructo mode.

My 3 year old is an excellent swimmer and it’s something I hope he retains and chooses to compete in at some point. He loves riding horses and I find it gives me opportunities to teach him about leadership and assertiveness, not to mention caring for animals. Gymnastics would give him an outlet for all the ways he wants to express himself physically. If I can provide him that outlet it would teach him to be aware of his body in time and space (proprioception) and translate into athleticism later. Tee ball will teach him team skills as he does nothing that is team related at this point. I have to come up with activities that cover the most bases without overscheduling and over stimulating him. There has to be time to just go outside and play. He does love to go and throw rocks into mud puddles and find bugs. I think that activity is important as all the others. And, hey, it’s free!

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I got to do a little bit of everything as a kid. I played softball, took piano and guitar lessons, did gymnastics and karate, spent most of my spare time playing outside, seeing if I could break my record of how far I could jump out of the swing in the backyard. If I wasn’t playing I was reading.

I am the second of five girls, so I don’t know how my parents managed to make sure we had all these opportunities and time to accomplish them. I can remember my dad coming home (exhausted from working a twelve hour shift making tires in a tire plant) and playing softball with us in the front yard for hours, or coaching our softball teams. My mom was a stay at home mom with five little girls running around, a veritable Miss Hannigan. Cue the music: “Little girls, little girls, everywhere I look things are..little. I would ring little necks, if only I could get, an acquittal…”

I seriously don’t know how she escaped with her sanity. Oh, wait, she didn’t.

Do any of us come out of this parenting thing sane? If you answered yes, you’re not doing it right- I know that much. I apologize to my mom in my head at least five times a day while raising my two boys. (Mom: the Miss Hannigan reference is comparable in how I perceive raising five girls must have been like, not a comparison to how I experienced you). Before I had kids it wouldn’t have occurred to me to add that little caveat.

I think it boils down to just doing the best damn job you can do

I’m serious. If Gray nearly spins to death on the uneven parallel bars (100 points if you know what movie that’s from), because he’s so overwhelmed due to too many activities, at least he didn’t atrophy in front of an iPad screen. Don’t get me wrong, he watches the iPad, but hopefully I can offset any permanent damage with extracurricular activity.

That makes me wonder… what’s curricular in a preschooler’s life to make something extracurricular? I mean, his job is to try things out, to experiment- that is his curriculum. I’ve thought quite often as he nears the age to be in school all day, why can’t he learn from practical applications? Can’t he learn his ABC’s and 123’s without the mind numbing monotony of school? Can’t his extracurricular activities teach him these things? I’m getting into an entirely different post, aren’t I? Let’s regroup.

I’m not sure it’s such a bad thing to have lots of activities planned for your child. I mean, we all know a kid can entertain him or herself. Hopefully the exposure to multiple activities as a young kid will give them interests that will prevent them from being zombies as teenagers.

Raising Babies

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Some of you may know that I used to be a zoo keeper. The majority of my ten years as a keeper was as a primate keeper. I worked with various species of monkeys and apes during my time as a keeper and during that time I participated in hand raising several orphaned primate babies. These are thrilling experiences that my surrogacy as a non-human primate caregiver provided me with the experience I now refer to with my two human children.

It occurred to me the other day while caring for my baby, that I have more experience raising non-human primates than I do humans.

I have raised more monkeys and a chimp (chimps are apes, not monkeys), than I have kids. I have two kids, but have raised no fewer than ten primates. They are similar experiences, but just slightly different enough that I find I catch myself from innate behaviors I could use with the infant primates.   It makes sense then that my instincts tend toward my experiences hand rearing primate babies.

My most ingrained reaction is to give a crying and flailing human baby a stuffed animal upon which to cling. Yes, I am typically that reassuring thing to which to cling, but when I’ve set the baby down in his crib or bouncer, his little arms flail out and he screams.

When hand rearing infant primates (non-human primates) a surrogate upon which to cling must be provided. Yes, I as the caregiver, am a surrogate, but humans hold their babies and even put them down. Non-human primates are not removed from the clutches of their mother’s hair for many weeks.

The first non-human primate I ever raised was a capuchin monkey named Noah. I’ll never forget my first day of training as a tour guide at a small zoo in Oklahoma. We sat gathered around, meant to be listening and taking notes, but all attention was focused on a small monkey bouncing around a small cage. He was a few months old, but had the energy of a toddler overdosed on sugar. Occasionally, he would return to a stuffed animal and would attach himself to it for comfort.

Noah Pic by Nicole Sweetin

Noah
Pic by Nicole Sweetin

Seeing a lost cause, our trainer removed the monkey, attached to his “fuzzy” and introduced him as Noah. He had been rejected by his mother and was being hand raised by the zoo staff. I was entranced, as you would imagine, and though several people tried to touch him, I refrained. Don’t get me wrong, I was dying to. I had wanted to be a primate keeper since I was three years old and my aunt got me a stuffed monkey named Spunky the Monkey(I still have him). I don’t know what stopped me. As an animal person my entire life, instinct told me to wait, get to know him. We became fast friends and years after I left that little zoo, he would scream excitedly as soon as he saw me upon my return. He had grown to be aggressive to most of his keepers and they had trouble shifting him. If I was visiting I could get him to comply. Noah was my second primate love (Spunky was my first).

I assisted in hand raising several capuchin monkeys, but my dream was to work with chimpanzees and hopefully one day get to hand raise one. N0w, that was a conflicting wish, because I knew that to hand raise one would mean something had occurred to require the hand rearing, like the neglect of the baby, or death of the baby’s mother.

When I finally got on as a great ape keeper at the zoo I grew up visiting, I thought I had won the lottery, though I had worked very hard to get there. Wouldn’t you know it, the chimpanzee group’s alpha female was pregnant. I was of course hoping for a healthy pregnancy and delivery, there was no reason to believe that the female would not take care of her baby. Tragically, though, the mother died in child birth after extensive efforts to save her. So there I was at my dream job, part of the team hand raising a newborn chimpanzee.

When I was part of the team that hand raised the infant chimpanzee, we used a t-shirt covered in fleece strips, sewn all over the t-shirt. This provided the infant a way to learn to cling since the baby was to be introduced to a surrogate in the chimpanzee group as soon as was deemed it appropriate for the infant’s health, safety and well being.

We provided her round the clock care.  To watch her grow and progress through her developmental skills was my first experience with motherhood.  I remember her a scrawny newborn, so weak and vulnerable.  She was getting sick a lot, so we had to administer intramuscular shots in her tiny little leg muscles, take her temperature hourly and count her respirations.  To take her off of you to perform these necessary procedures was agonizing as she would scream to be reattached.  I would press her back to my chest as quickly as possible and she would snuggle into the felt strips in my chest.  I remember thinking that I couldn’t wait for her to be a little less vulnerable.

It’s striking the similarities in the emotions and reactions when my sons were newborns.  It’s such a stressful time and so overwhelming.  Unlike raising a chimpanzee baby, there were no shifts to hand the baby off to the next keeper with my kids (unless you count my husband, which I rarely do for some reason, though he’s raised four children to adulthood). I find I celebrate their milestones the same I did for the baby chimp.

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I remember when she got her first tooth and acclimating to seeing her with teeth.  I remember working with her when she was army crawling.  I used the same exact technique in encouraging her to crawl as I later did  with my oldest son (number 2 isn’t army crawling just yet).  I would lie her about four feet from me and she would drag herself across the blanket, unsure and chirping, as she kept her eyes on me.  She would work hard, making her way back to me and I would scoop her up and hug her, telling her good job and vocalizing as closely as a could as to an encouraging chimpanzee vocalization.  My son, the same exact procedure, without the chimpanzee vocalizations, though, believe me, I was tempted.

As she got older, she would hang onto my thumbs and flip backwards, laughing that toothy, wide mouthed chimpanzee laugh.  Now my oldest son holds my hands and flips backwards, and the laugh is similar. 

I would celebrate her little accomplishments, each new milestone the same as I do with my boys.

I would cuddle her and stroke the hair on top of her sweaty head as she slept against me, same as I do with my boys.  But there are differences, of course.  I don’t have to give my sons back to their kind, not yet anyway.  I am their kind, but I do have to let him get progressively more independent, until he leaves the nest.

We had to introduce our little chimpanzee back to the group, to the chimpanzee surrogate who would be her mother and protector.  It was fascinating to watch that transition into the chimpanzee life she was meant to have.  She was more than a little spoiled, despite our best efforts.  The original female we believed would be a suitable surrogate did not work out.  She was interested in the baby, but only as a novelty, something of an aunt, if you will.

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The chimpanzee that took the baby as her own happened to be the baby’s deceased mother’s best friend.  Yes, that is the best way to describe them.  She was a bit cantankerous with her keepers and an alpha, after the baby’s mother died.  She was very stern with the baby, but never physically so.  The baby was used to getting away with biting and fussing at the people she didn’t want to hold her or touch her, or when she just plain didn’t want to do something.  This is a much more painful type of tantrum then with a human child.  At 6 months old she had the temperament of a human toddler and the strength of a teenage human.

Her surrogate wasn’t having it though.  She would walk behind the baby and just touch her, clip her back foot. The baby would turn around and scream at her, like to leave her alone, even bite at her, but the surrogate would continue and the baby would stop griping at her eventually.  Then her surrogate would walk away and give her space.  Then, she’d do it all over again.  Where we would have given her space, a little taken aback by the rejection, her surrogate, being an alpha, essentially told her, I’m the head chimp in charge, you don’t get to send me away.  She ended up being a fantastic surrogate mother, even biting off half the ear of a male who she thought got too close to the baby.  Poor guy was posing no threat or even aggression towards the baby, but the surrogate thought so, and she being as big as most of the males, let him have it.  She has since been surrogate to orphaned babies from all over the country.

I learned so much from raising primate babies and watching them be raised by their own species.  I apply the lessons I learned almost every day in my parenting and find myself playing with my babies as I did them.  I don’t know what kind of mom I would be if I hadn’t had these experiences.  How lucky I and my kids are.

 

 

 

How Capri Suns Ruin Your Life

Capri Suns were not really a thing when I was a kid…Ok, they weren’t a thing at all…I predate Capri Suns, Ok? Hell, I predate juice boxes.

I was born in the late seventies, before the technology of juice pouches. If you were outside playing and wanted a drink, you got a drink from the water hose. Your options inside were milk, tap water and maybe juice (if you were allowed to drink it outside of breakfast). I had 4 sisters, so we would have killed a jug of OJ in about 5 minutes if mom let us have it at will. But now there is the Capris Sun, the bane of my parental existence. Convenient for the kid? Yes. Convenient for me? Sure, I can concede that. The reason I hate Capris Suns is seven-fold. Just kidding there’s like three. I just wanted to say, seven-fold.

Stabbing them

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I hate stabbing Capri Suns. It seriously takes practice on par with the 10,000 repetitions concept of mastering a skill. When my son came to the age where Capri Suns were appropriate, I couldn’t stab one properly to save my life. It went all the way through, it squirted out the top, it squirted out the hole, the hole wouldn’t puncture-which feels an awful like what I suspect stabbing someone feels like. I’m a pro now, but damn, it took a lot of practice. Maybe if you’re younger than I and retain an acumen for Capri Sun stabbing, you’ll fair better.

Containing them

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You cannot contain a Capri Sun. It has a mind of its own. You may dictate: this Capri Sun shall not pass from this kitchen. Your child probably wants to comply, but they can’t. The Capri Sun alters their brain chemistry so that they disobey and wander into their rooms or the living room, on your couch, or worse, on your mother’s new couch. You know, the woman that already raised her kids and had her things destroyed, so now she actually has nice stuff. Oh well, that’s what she gets for putting the mother’s curse on me. Karma is a Capri Sun on your new white sofa.

Disposal of them

Capri Sun Meme 3

Why is it that Capri Suns are incapable of making it into the trash? Why? I ask you! Because they have made it into my son’s room (and I have given up the fight), they lie about like silver shining beacons of my failed ability to keep them from leaving the kitchen. And I know he did not finish the damn thing so its remnants have been freshly squeezed into my carpet, sofa, his clothes. I don’t care if your child is 2 or 13, they are incapable of finishing a Capri Sun. They have to leave an ounce or two that will squirt all over when stepped on, sat upon or casually glanced at.

My vehicle bears the brunt of this Capri Sun napalm. It’s a wasteland of Capri Sun mortar shells and damp spots all around my vehicle. My mom got in my dirty car over the weekend and chastised me for how messy it was. She asked if I recalled ever having a dirty car, even with all five of us kids. She didn’t have to raise kids with Capri Suns! She doesn’t know what I’ve been through. Times have changed. The weapons of mass destruction come in silver pouches and yellow straws, ready to destroy the homes, vehicles and the sanity of otherwise capable parents.

Capri Sun Meme 2

I buy boxes of Capri Suns like I used to buy cases of beer. My kid can seriously pound them out. I think they have become like baby wine.
They just can’t relax after school until they’ve had a “sun”, as my toddler calls them. Like, seriously, don’t talk to me until I’ve had my Capri Sun.

I don’t even know how I’m going to go on. I guess I’ll have to wait until my kids have grown up and moved out before I buy that white couch. Then my grandkids can come visit and I’ll pretend like it’s not a big deal, when they squirt it all over. I just hope their parents have the decency to feign mortification when they do it, like I do. It’s the best I can offer my mom when we’re at her house. I’m just trying to survive the Capri Sun apocalypse.

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.