In my next life I'm going to get goldfish. I'm skipping the whole Marriage and kids thing. I don’t even want a dog. Just goldfish. I think this to myself every morning when I step out of bed.
It’s not that my life is bad, if anything its interesting. Perhaps TOO interesting. I long for a day where I can sit back and think, not one strange thing happened today, instead of thinking I wonder if anyone else goes through this crap. I never set out to be the perfect mother just the opposite, I figure if I say I'm the world’s worst mother it keeps the expectations low, this way when I screw up people aren’t shocked. They just stop and think to themselves, well, that horrible mother is at it again. It keeps the expectations low. Maybe I should start at the beginning.
My Name is Jen Philips. I am a wife and mother of four. Somehow I missed the memo of the whole 2.5 children and a golden retriever. On a beautiful winter day 20 years ago I married my husband Mark and we began our journey as a family. I already knew by the beginning that I was a horrible housewife. I just don’t have the patience to spend my day worrying if there are dust bunnies under my bed. The way I see it, they don’t bother me, I won’t bother them. I don’t care if my flat sheet and my fitted sheet don’t match my comforter and the comforter was designed by Martha Stewart, hell I'm convinced Martha Stewart is an alien. No one is that crafty, creative and outwardly perfect unless they are from outer space. Real people don’t care and if anything I'm real.
None of that mattered to Mark, he married me anyway. He knew that I hated to cook. That he would never come home and find some freakish floral wonderland of silk flowers draped over the new hand sewn curtains. I wasn’t that girl. It’s not that I'm not capable of these things. I am, I just don’t want to. We were happy. We decided to share our happy with a child. Well not so much decided, fate decided it for us when the condom broke, but we were as ready as we were going to get.
There should be a handbook or warning labels put on babies. I mean if they can put a warning label on a cup of coffee saying CAUTION CONTENTS HOT, then they can take a few minutes to throw a sticker on the back of newborn pampers. They should give you some kind of manual to read as soon as you get pregnant. Not just hand you a baby in forty weeks and say ‘Here ya go, don’t screw it up too bad will ya?’ It isn’t until you are expecting that you discover, no matter how ready you THINK you are, you're not ready to be one hundred percent responsible for another person’s life. Its scary shit! It gets REAL in a hurry. No amount of baby sitting or helping take care of other people’s kids prepares you. Becoming a parent is like being coated in beef blood and being thrown in a cage with an angry tiger.
Maybe I'm wrong, the tiger might actually have mercy on you and kill you quickly. Children have no mercy. They see that you have a weakness and they exploit it starting with pregnancy. I don’t believe for a second that they don’t know what they are doing in there. They do! Oh you want to go out today? BAM Bout of morning sickness that would lay low an elephant. You like that food? Let me tweek at your taste buds so it suddenly tastes like rhinoceros rectum deep fried. I think they have a little control center in your uterus to just continuously screw with you until you give up and just want them the hell out of your body.
People laugh when they find out your pregnant and say stupid things like, “Enjoy your sleep now Har har har.” Mostly men. Because they are stupid. Id like to see some man sleep with a beach ball strapped to his middle , a beach ball full of live eels that start frolicking on the off chance you find a comfortable position.
When people see a pregnant woman they use words like “Glowing” and “Radiant” I figured out quickly that these are terms that women use around other women, women who haven't experienced pregnancy yet so they don’t go running to their Gynecologist and demand to have their uterus removed. Using the words glowing and radiant and the like appeal to a young woman’s vanity. They think things like, other women think that woman is more attractive than them because she is carrying a child. Maybe I would like to have a child after all. It’s a scam. Other women just want all other women as miserable as they are. They want to know that eventually they will see another young attractive person with bags under their eyes and stretch marks smelling of formula spit up and mystery stains on all their clothes.
I did not ‘glow’. I was not ‘radiant’. I was as big as a Volvo. My only consolation the whole time was that Mark knew less about it than I did. It was a great source of amusement to me to see him struggle with the mysteries of the pregnant female. Late in the pregnancy of our firstborn child, I was sitting around the house with my t-shirt pulled up over my belly looking at my belly button. It was protruding most unattractively, but it was fascinating.
“Mark, check this out! I have a pop up timer like a Turkey!” I proceeded to push my belly button back in to make it an ‘inny’ again only to have it pop right back out. Mark, who was at the time putting together some piece of baby gadgetry, looked over his shoulder at me. His expression went to one of horror as he dropped his screwdriver and dove between my legs arms outstretched.
I was shocked. “What the hell?”
“Stop that you're not due for another four weeks!”
“I am aware of this, you didn't answer my question. What are you doing?”
He looked up at me briefly from his position on the floor. Hands still outstretched between my legs like a center fielder trying to catch a pop up ball. “You're going to unhook it! Stop pressing that!” I stopped pressing my belly button and my hand fell to my side. “What on earth are you blathering about!”
Apparently, my otherwise intelligent husband thought that the umbilical cord was hooked to the back of my belly button. Me pressing on my own belly button was like hitting the eject on a VCR and the child was going to just fall out.
I should have known then that I was destined to be the world’s worst mother and horrendous housewife because all I could do was laugh. Two lessons were learned that day, Babies are not hooked to the mothers belly button, and laughing till it hurts when you are 8 months pregnant will make you pee yourself.
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