Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Why I can't explain why I wanted children.

Not long ago a coworker who is quite happily child-free asked me why I wanted children.

"Is it so you can have something that, you know, loves you unconditionally and everything?" he asked, completely genuinely and without a hint of guile or accusation.

Oh honey, I thought to myself with a smile. If I had wanted that, I would've snagged myself another puppy. They're lots cheaper and, if the yellow lab and wiggly two-year-old at my house make up any sort of representative sample, much easier to potty train.

Slate magazine recently ran a series of articles from men and women who are choosing to remain child-free. I read each entry with the same fascination that I watch bloodied trauma patients roll into the ER several times per week-- intrigued by an experience so very different from my spot in Two-Kids-Under-Three Land, where the sun is shining and the diapers pile up. Come on in! The water is fine!

I am not so naive as to believe that the cultural atmosphere around me did not influence my choice to bear children. I live in Utah, after all, home of young brides and minivans bursting with babies, the veritable mecca of child birthing. I was raised in a big,crazy family with all kinds of siblings; we ignore prefixes like step- and half- and not-technically.

The course of my young life did not include any women who were voluntarily childless. Of course I knew wonderful, happy, fulfilled women who, for one reason or another, did not have children, but I always assumed (perhaps incorrectly, now that I think about it) that given their 'druthers, they'd prefer to have a little brood about them. I assumed that women wanted children, and even though that seems a bit narrow-focused to me now, I can't entirely blame my young self. The women I knew wanted children.

I'm willing to admit it-- the idea of simply not wanting children seems odd to me. Not, of course, because it actually is odd or because people who don't want babies are any more bizarre than those of us who do, but simply because it's so different from my own experience. It's not unlike the way I think it's a little unbelievable that my husband doesn't like chocolate, or that that one girl my brother once dated didn't like cheese. My cheese-loving, chocolate-craving, baby-smooching brain just can't make heads nor tails of it.

I read this breathtaking essay by a woman I don't know but immediately loved (and not just because she, too, is a happily married Mormon woman who votes for democrats. It's lonely in our corner sometimes.) While my experience is not the same as hers, the words she chooses ring true in my heart. She said it: everything is MORE.

Sure, I always sort of knew in the abstract that I wanted babies. And then a switch flipped, and just like that I wanted babies. I wanted them in an almost tangible, desperate sort of way.

When that warm, sticky baby was placed on my chest, I instinctively knew that this was right. Not for everyone, of course, but for me. This journey that mothering is was an absolute essential part of my journey- as a woman, certainly, as a wife, and as a person. I am not the same person without my babies. I need them.

So I guess what I mean when I say that I can't explain why, exactly, I wanted babies is that it's not particularly important to me to figure out the right words for it. (This is good as I am failing miserable trying anyway.) Getting Bug to eat her vegetables and learn her letters and impress upon her that she must never, ever ride in a car without a seat belt, teaching the Baggins to be smart and kind and hold open doors for ladies, those are important things to me. I am supposed to do this. I am supposed to cry and hurt and laugh and sometimes threaten to sell my two-year-old to the gypsies. I am trying, harder than I've tried at anything in my life, to do right by these pretty babies, and, above all, not screw them up. It is achingly, agonizingly, heart-breakingly hard, but I want to do it. It's ok if you don't; your journey and my journey are our own. I'll celebrate your choices; they are brave and hard and right and you'll learn things I won't. I'll celebrate mine, too. My choice is clear.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Summer Projects: The Small Bathroom

It's almost a crime to call our master bathroom a bathroom at all. It's honestly the tiniest imaginable room that could possibly manage to contain the necessary toilet and sink, and that's it. It's not even a glorified closet. It's just a regular ol' closet with a crapper in it.

Nevertheless, this itty-bitty-teeny-tiny space makes up the only remaining areas of wall and ceiling on the entire main floor of our house not been freshly painted since we moved in and began renovations. That is, until last week.

MJ, Ari, and I packed up both kids and ran to the local hardware store to pick up the necessary items to paint the space. You'll note that I'm continually doing this without permission from the hubby. He's getting used to it these days as in the 4 years we've lived in this house, he's come home to find the kitchen cabinets, countertops, front door, and bathroom floor changed to one degree or another without his input. He's such a great sport.

So, without further ado, here are the pictures of what this terrible little room looked like before. It's really sort of upsetting to realize that we put up with this grossness for more than 4 years since we moved in.

Did you think I was exaggerating the stupidness of the (lack of) size of this room? Believe it, friend. It exists.

The tiny cupboard and mirror frame were painted in the Great Black Cabinet Painting Extravaganza of 2008 when I impulsively painted all the kitchen cabinets black. They turned out so great, I just sort of kept going. I got tired, though, and did sort of a crappy job on the bathroom cabinet and then immediately regretted touching it at all. It has stayed like that ever since.

Also, carpet in the bathroom? I'm dry heaving a little.

 What is cuter- the reflection of me in the mirror, or the tube of chapstick I didn't bother to remove from the countertop?

Can you even imagine framing a room/closet this size and thinking, "Oh yeah. We'll put a toilet in there and it'll be totally fine."

Given the size of the room, I kept bouncing between two schools of thought when picking the paint color. On one hand, I thought, "This room is tiny! I should paint it a light color to make it seem bigger!" On the other hand, though, I'd think, "This room is tiny! I can paint it some sort of wacky color I'd never use on a bigger room."

Ultimately, I went with the second concept, and picked a dark, stormy gray. I'm not going to lie, it's dark enough that I thought about a million times while I was working on it that I was turning this awful little space into a cave.

We somehow managed to squish both MJ and me in the room at the same time (imagine MJ perched on the countertop and me flat on my belly under the toilet, because that's basically what it looked like) and whipped out the first coat during the kids' nap time. I finished the second coat and cabinet that night while Schmoops worked late. Mister Baggins rested, and I only had to ask Bug to PLEASE NOT TOUCH THAT! about 60 million times, but we got through with only a little paint in her hair. And mine, but who's counting?

So anyway, the finished product. I still have some touch up to do on the trim and ceiling and hang something on the wall, but it turned out so pretty I couldn't wait to share. We painted the cabinet white to contrast with the wall color, and I'm in love with the result. And that part about not painting a bigger room like this? I've changed my mind! I want EVERYTHING to look like this!

Paddy loves it. He'd be crazy not to! I'm going to start calling this teensy little area our 'master suite'.

Final comparison, the view from our bedroom:


What do you think?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

If I had a million dollars I'd buy you a monkey.

And now you have that Barenaked Ladies song from high school stuck in your head. Admit it.

So we have this running joke in our family. When Bug tells us she wants something, Schmoops usually tells her that he wants a million dollars. (Mama, of course, always says she wants peace and quiet. "Peees an' ky-it!!" Bug will shout in response. She doesn't seem to get the irony.)

Anyway, today the four of us were out running a few errands when Bug loudly announced that she wanted a peanut butter sandwich with honey. (In case you were wondering, she'd basically be content to eat peanut butter and honey sandwiches from now until the end of time. Let's hope it's a phase.) As per usual, Daddy replied that he'd really like a million dollars. That's when the Mama in the passenger seat was treated to the following exchange.

Bug: I want a miw-yon dollars, too!
P, sarcastically:  What would you even do with a million dollars?
B, nonchalantly:  Get some gas.
P:  Really? What else would you buy?
B, matter-of-factly:  Eighteen cents.
P, managing to keep a straight face:  Yeah, you could buy lots of eighteen cents. What else?
B, thoughtfully:  Um, one of those A-B-Cs. 
P: Hmm.  What else?
B: A coupla marshmallows.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Giant blow-up waterslide? Yes, please.

We feel lucky to have the Ortons as our dearest friends for lots of reasons. Last week, one of the major reasons came in the form of a giant blow up water slide that temporarily took up residence in their backyard. Once she warmed up to Scarlet's Grandma Debbie and Grandpa Doug (which took all of two seconds since they are basically the greatest people in the world) Bug was in absolute toddler heaven. Bo's sister Dari pretty much earned her way into heaven just for climbing that bouncy ladder with various two-year-olds under her arm repeatedly for very literally hours on end.

What with it sort of being his profession and all, it was no surprise that we found Bo most often behind the camera, documenting all the fun with a combination of still shots and video. We considered skipping a couple of house payments in order to buy the camera he used to capture the next couple of shots, but ultimately decided it would be cheaper and easier to simply pay Bo to follow us around at every family activity for the remainder of our lives. You see what I mean, of course.

After all the fun on the slide, it was time for Bug's first s'mores experience. Obligatory Sandlot quote (you knew it was coming):

"You want a s'more?"
I haven't had anything yet, so how can I have some more of nothing?"
"You're killing me, Smalls."

"First, you take the graham. You stick the chocolate on the graham. When the mallow's flamin', you cover it with the other end. Then, you stuff."

I think she approves.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Splish splash.

The best part about summertime (besides the sunshine! and the warmth! and the general cheerfulness of all of us who get a bit sullen when we see nothing but ice and freezing air stained by inversion for 3 solid winter months, of course) is the way it is totally acceptable to ditch out on completing responsible tasks in favor of taking the kids to a splash  pad. We met Grammy Lu, Aunt B, and MJ in a neighborhood I sort of wish I lived in for a some watery fun.

It took a minute to adequately slather my so-fair-skinned-she-glows-in-the-dark child in enough sunscreen, but once we did she was all smiles.

Aren't her french braids cute? They'd better be. There was much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth to get them that way.

We kept the baby in the shade for the vast majority of the morning, but he did venture into the sunshine for a few minutes. Mr. Baggins was a greased little piggy in all his sunscreen.

Ultimately, he opted for more comfortable accommodations.

I have lots of chores to complete today after our lazy day in the sun. If you were wondering if it was worth it, I submit the following for your review.

Verdict: Good choice.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Paddy saw a mouse in our garage.


P: I can't believe I married someone who is so afraid of spiders and mice and...
Me: You know what those kind of people are called, right?
P: What?