I was on the phone with a somewhat distant co-worker who was asking how my weekend was. (Before you ask, being coerced into mundane how-was-your-weekend chit chat was not the truly awful thing that happened to me, though it does make me want to fling myself from the corporate tower every Monday.) Then she says in this coy little voice, “You know, I noticed something very interesting about you on Friday.”
“Oh did you?” I say, ready to be lavished with shoe compliments. “What’s that?”
“Well, I tend to tread very lightly in these waters,” she says with a little chuckle.
“Oh do you?” I chuckle back, conspiratorially. Are we still laughing about shoes?
“You’re pregnant,” she says. “Right?”
In her (my?) defense, I’d just returned from a mini-college reunion where I’d eaten my weight in hash browns and exceeded my daily caloric intake on Old Style alone (When in the Midwest!, as they say). Upon further reflection, I’d also been wearing a wildly unflattering outfit as a result of some laundry laziness earlier in the week.
But how do you respond to something like this in the moment?
Sometimes all you can do is laugh.
Or bludgeon your co-worker with a Swingline.
I chose none of the above, and instead found myself telling a woman I barely know that Drew and I weren’t planning to have kids. I’m not even sure yet if that’s true, but my brain went into some kind of automated survival mode, registering that I needed to say something – anything – to ensure she never ask that question again.
Is this what happens when you turn thirty? Is she just the first in a long string of people getting suspicious every time I order a club soda at the bar (as if that would ever happen!) or wear a loose, flowing top (which I guess I should stop doing once I lose that Old Style/holiday weight)? Lord, I hope not.
But if that’s the case, here’s my public service announcement (and please, pass it on): Unless someone has already told you they’re pregnant, or their water actually breaks in your presence, DO NOT ask them if they’re pregnant. If they are, there’s probably a reason they haven’t told you yet (especially at the office). If they’re not, you might as well be saying, “Get back on the elliptical, Lardass.” It’s lose-lose. So knock it off. Bite back that temptation and return to your weekend weather chit-chat till one of you actually does jump out the window.
Please tell me I’m not the only one this has happened to.
Earlier this week, we got a package from our friends Nick and Emily in Texas – the first in our group to have a baby (hence why they were subsequently banished to Texas). That baby – Liam – is now three and a (almost) half years old. Old enough to bust out the construction paper and yarn, and fashion this badass reindeer for us to hang on our tree.
I thought that was pretty damn good for three and a half. I can’t say my arts and crafts skills were on par at that age, but nonetheless, my mom dutifully hung each of the ornaments we dragged home from school. This is to say nothing of her faux delight in receiving our Christmas gifts. And I do believe my brothers and I got her some pretty horrendous crap over the years.
That crystal jewelry box with MOM engraved on the cover? That white porcelain cat door-stopper? Yep. All courtesy of my meticulously saved allowance and a trip to JC Penny with my father. God help me, I think I may have even fallen victim to the Zales heart-shaped pendant, the biggest commercial crime to be perpetrated against the 30-45 mommy crowd. Though touching, I’m quite certain she had no desire to wear, or display, this cheap crap.
But the handmade Christmas ornament? A classic. What’s a tree without it? Some Crate & Barrel cover page, something without meaning. So is a Christmas tree without kids destined to be some cookie cutter, soul-less thing? I love my cats, but this is one role they just can’t fill. I mean, take a look at their only contribution to the tree this year:
Taken down after less than 36 hours. Thanks Jacques, Olivia – whichever of you menaces did it.
I guess I won’t worry over it too much this year. I’ll just hang Liam’s ornament on the tree and consider us lucky to have such great friends. But someday soon, I’ll have to answer the question… what’s Christmas without kids?
PS, the ceramic squirrel below is courtesy of Drew’s oldest brother Eric, circa 1982. It’s prominently displayed on our guest bedroom nightstand.
My house is starting to look like an episode of Hoarders. Particularly the kitchen. Where nary a dish has been washed in what must be going on six days now. This may not come as a surprise to my mother. Or my college roommate Ale, who was so obsessed with cleanliness, she used to scrub the toilet before we went to the bars in case one of us needed to rest our head in it later that night. (I have to say Ale, I really appreciated that. Many times.)
But it’s a surprise to me! I’m thirty. And apparently unable to keep house. To figure out how to operate the vacuum we received two years ago for our wedding (thank you Mike and Elizabeth!). To fix the doorbell that’s been out of order for eight months. To put things back where I found them.
If this wasn’t evidence enough that I’m somewhat incapable of caring for myself (much less another human being), my mom is still on speed dial for such questions as:
2. When are you going to file my tax return, and what’s the likelihood I’ll be getting a call from the IRS this year for creative accounting?
3. Does it mean my cold is getting better, or worse, when my snot turns a different color? (Oh please, like you’re not still asking your mom that too.)
Moms know these things! I do not. Maybe in a Google world, this shouldn’t matter, but it’s somehow unsettling that I don’t have answers to these questions. That there are still some things for which I want my mommy. Does this mean I’m still a kid?
Someone once told me once that we feel like a child until we have one ourselves. CRIPES! If I don’t have one, am I going to be jumping on a giant FAO Schwartz keyboard when I’m thirty-six? I suppose it doesn’t help that I work for a toy company and people think I’m styling Barbie hair from the hours of eight to five. (I’m not. Usually.)
Maybe it won’t be so bad, especially if it means I get that sweet indoor trampoline. And in the meantime, I’ll use some of that money that’s not going towards daycare and diapers yet (or ever?) and get the on-again-off-again maid out here. Unless, Ale, you’d like to hop a quick flight to LA?
Now seriously, am I the only idiot still calling their mom for dumb questions like this?
It’s happened to all of you at least a few times now. You pull up Facebook and there’s a status update from one of your exes, touting pounds and inches, trendy three-part names like Isadora Elaina or Hunter Montgomery. Maybe even a bleak hospital scene photo with the washed-out, epiduraled wife holding a wrinkly swaddled thing – and your ex, grinning like he’s just killed it in beer pong. Because that was the last time you saw him so idiotically thrilled.
Reactions to these posts can vary. You might be happy for their successful execution of the miracle of life. You might wonder how someone who used to drink a case of Shlitz on a casual Tuesday night can now be responsible for another human being. My usual reaction? A full body shudder and a thought that chills me to the bone: That could have been me.
I’m a fairly suggestible person. I majored in Advertising because someone said I’d be good at “slogans”. I switched careers at the suggestion of a random we met in our condo complex’s hot tub who thought I had the personality for Human Resources (insult or compliment?). I almost agreed to move to Seattle last year because Drew went through a phase where he was “into” rain.
And if I’d been able to stick it out with any one of these Facebook-friended exes, I can only assume I might’ve gotten roped into birthing a litter of children before my thirtieth birthday (please remember: I’m originally from Indiana). As in, those Facebook babies could’ve been mine! Literally, in the case of those exes with the crazily dominant genes – the ones who’ve produced mini-me’s that are, presumably, exactly what our child would have looked like. (Is this happening to anyone else?)
It probably won’t comfort you to know that this is just the beginning. You’ll be getting Twitter-esque updates of their whereabouts, their preferences, their astonishing ability to roll over or sit up.
Emma Taylor loves Coffee Bean! Emma Taylor loves taking naps!
You’ll have to wonder over and over again: Could that have been ME putting those status updates out there into the world?
Perhaps it’s best not to think about it. In the meantime, keep posting about REALLY important things. Like settling in for an uninterrupted eight-hour Wonder Years marathon, the joys of Fruity Pebbles sprinkled over your Yogurtland Guava Pineapple Tart, your ever-waning, paper-thin resistance to flipping over conference tables mid-meeting.
And when the day comes where they make their profile picture a sole pic of the baby (as if THEY have become the baby?!), well…that’s an entry for another day.
No, seriously – that’s an entry for another day. We’ll get to it, I promise.
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Every year during football season, Purdue University (my alma mater) opens the bars at 7 am on Saturdays to kick off Breakfast Club: dubbed by ESPN as one of the Top 10 college pre-game parties. People are decked out in what can only be described as more ridiculous versions of the most ridiculous Halloween costumes. Screwdrivers and Bloody Marys are served from giant trash cans into ONLY 32 ounce mugs. Black tarps cover the windows to trick us into thinking it’s an okay time of day to start drinking, so we do.
On a mini-reunion with my friends earlier this year, my buddy Dan brought his girlfriend Leslie for her first trip to Purdue. I asked him if she knew what she was getting herself into with Breakfast Club. Dan said she’d likely not attend, given the intended 5 am wake-up call and her not being an early riser.
I asked Dan what had changed her mind. He shrugged and said, “FOMO.”
FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out
Never heard of it! But realized, instantly, that this was the driving force behind probably 95% of my decisions in life.
Is it easy getting up at five am to don superhero tights and slug back watery screwdrivers? No! Is it worth it? Yes! Because who knows what kind of crazy hijinx you might miss if you don’t attend. You might miss out on meeting Colonel Sanders.
Or Kurt Rambis.
Or a Star Wars Storm Trooper. (I forgot to ask how he goes to the bathroom in this get-up)
Now. Is it easy having kids? Hell no. I’m told the average parent loses six months of sleep in their first two years (not to mention hundreds of thousands of dollars in the first 18). Is it worth it? I have no idea. I imagine there are some very, very cool things I’ll never have the chance to experience without kids.
Like the opportunity to sport a macaroni necklace in public, ala Goldie Hawn in Overboard. (Kurt Russell’s finest work, for those who haven’t seen it). Or see a mini-me&drew, bond more with my parents by giving them grandkids, hear something hilarious come out of the mouth of something Drew and I created from scratch, give them funny names like Wolfgang and Bartholomew. Etcetera, etcetera.
But FOMO works both ways, you know. The thought of having kids makes me afraid of missing out on other things. Things like keeping in touch with friends, accomplishing anything outside of being a mother (like finishing, and publishing, my novel), feeling financially comfortable, being capable of conversation more interesting than my kid’s preference for strained squash over peas, staying sane, buying that RV with the airbrushed lions Drew and I have always coveted. (Yes, be jealous.→)
I guess the question is – on which side of the fence does the bigger FOMO lie?