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Stories

Stories, observations, and reflections from a life of raising boys

Everything I Lost After Having Children

Jenifer DeMattia

Arguments – Before having kids, I would say that my husband was the only one I got into arguments with. You know, verbal back and forth where I was usually right. After I was declared the unspoken “winner” of a heated discussion, I would think to myself “he never had a chance.” Here is my latest argument with my 4-year-old son:

Me - “Sweetheart please stop picking your nose. And don’t EAT it!”

Me - “Why did you eat it?”

Son - “Because it tastes good”.

Me - “Well it’s yucky.”

Son - “It is not yucky. It tastes good.”

Me - “It is yucky and I don’t want you to do it.”

Son - “But the boogies are from my nose, and I WILL eat it!”

Me - “Fine, just save room for dinner.”

Everyday is a battle of wills, and everyday I find myself waving the white flag faster than the day before. Children push you until you crack just to prove that you are breakable. And once you’re breakable, you’re breakable. But not broken. Today, I got him to try coleslaw because it came in a Tupperware container that for some reason he though looked like ice cream. The look on his face was awesome. He may be better at debate, but I still have my tricks.

My Path – Before having children, I was on a path. All the money I had was going toward my degree and an apartment near my college. I was going to work in the psychology field. I was going to help people, probably children, and I was going to travel then have kids, and live in a house with a lot of land. The interesting part is that, although I was old enough to be in college, I was not old enough to understand what was tangible. I could barely afford to live, and a bachelors in psychology did not reward with the highest of paying jobs. I could barely afford to travel to the mall, let alone Europe. And then I became a stay-at-home mom and I haven’t worn dress pants in three years. We live in a nice house, but if we had to maintain a huge yard I think we would lose it. I can barely stand to empty the dishwasher these days. I didn’t realize then how our path in life creates a maze. We don’t really ever know where it’s headed, especially since right now I am being lead through it by a blond-haired booger eater and his dark-haired sidekick poopy pants.

My House – Speaking of my house, I can no longer find it. Pier 1 used to be my friend. I bought a beautiful shag rug that felt like you were walking on a cloud. A big couch. Picture frames and other cutesy things. They meant something to me. I felt balance when I walked through the door of the perfect home I had created. Now I live in a super-max prison where I am guarded by small people who yell at me and make me cry sometimes. White doors and walls now have a tiny dirty handprint smeared on the bottom. It’s a little creepy when you discover them, like “The Shining” or something. Speaking of, my 4-year-old sleep walks into our room at night and says things like, “You have been a very bad boy.” Although we know he is quoting the movie, “Mr. Peabody & Sherman,” it is freaky nonetheless. The shag rug needs to be mowed because every time I step on it some sort of small object sticks me in the foot. My new footrest is made by Fisher-Price and the weeds out front are now a barrier to prevent the solicitors from ringing the doorbell at the exact moment the prison guards’ eyes begin to shut, just before I was about to make a break for it.

My Mind – Sometimes, I find myself staring at my boys thinking, “I wonder what they were like when they were younger?” The sad part is that one is 4 and the other will be 1 next week. I used to be able to remember a moment from the past, including what I was wearing and how many alcoholic beverages I consumed before grabbing the microphone from the DJ at my work Christmas party and giving a play-by-play of everyone’s dance moves. Being at home, I rarely know the day of the week and I drove all the way to our community pool before I realized I was wearing a bathing suit top with underwear instead of the more socially acceptable bathing suit bottoms. I call my husband by my son’s name and for reasons that I cannot understand, I often call my youngest by my friend’s dogs name. I constantly start a sentence and can’t figure out what in the hell I was talking about, and I am so tired sometimes that when I read my son books at bedtime I fall asleep and wake myself up talking gibberish and occasionally saying curse words for no reason. I find things in the pantry that clearly belong in the fridge, and I got into a heated debate with my son about him never allowing me to have the ninja power of lightening. It really meant something to me that I be allowed to show my true ninja potential. That should have been an indicator that perhaps a break was needed.

I think the best way to sum up what I have lost after becoming a mother is Control. My son’s behavior is sometimes out of control. My children being sick are out of my control. My kids getting their feelings hurt, what they do in school, how they act, who they are, how they learn, and whether or not they pick their nose – it is all completely out of my reach. I can try my best to teach them, discipline them, set an example for them, and mold them, but the truth is they are who they are. Despite me they will be hurt, hurt others at times, and make terrible mistakes. This is what pains me the most. That feeling I feel as my almost 1-year-old waddles away from me on two feet. My first thought is that the control I had is slipping away. I can handle losing arguments. In fact, I like that my son likes a good debate. I also admit being a little intrigued by the winding road my path in life has become. And my home, well that’s mostly material things and once I had children they just don’t really matter as much. And losing my mind has only made me more interesting (if it hasn’t, please don’t tell me). And laughter truly makes for the best medicine. What I have also come to realize, looking back on my life so far, is that where control is concerned, you can’t really lose something you never had. And that the more I try to control things, the more it consumes me. But when I just let things happen and live in the moment, the arguments dissipate, the days feels like they’re moving in the right direction, and my house feels like a worn-in home.  So, I have made an important life decision to declare that, where my children are concerned, learning to lose may be the best thing that ever happened to me