Tuesday, May 19, 2009

...You Won't Find Me in the (mother) Hood...

Mother’s Day was last week and it brought up an interesting memory for me about one of those experiences we all have that shape, and sometimes scar us for life.

When I was 8 years old, Santa made good on a promise and delivered a brand new Baby Alive doll.

Baby’s food came in cherry (red), lime (green) and banana (yellow). I mixed her food, put in on her pink plate and fed her. Back then you had to pull this lever on her back to make her “chew” but the lever was a hard plastic that made it a bit of a chore. My dad sprayed WD40 on a cloth and wiped her back to make it easier. Already, she was too much work.

I overfed her, gave her her bottle of water, and waited for her to do her business so I could change her just like on the commercial. About three Christmas morning specials later, Baby was a bit constipated so there was nothing to change. Not wanting to waste a perfectly good diaper, I waited until long after dinner to check her. Still nothing. By now I’m bored and irritated, so my dad gave her a bottle, then another one. Now Mom gives her a bottle and tries to “burp” her. It wasn’t this much work on the commercial; I am now learning what “false advertisement” means.

Dad offered a solution. “I think you made the food too thick. Run some water in the tub and stick her mouth under there to clean her out. You can start fresh tomorrow.” So my sister and I turn on the water and with her bottom aimed at the opposite end of the tub, we lined her mouth up with the faucet and let the water run in.

Oh, the horror.

Baby Alive also apparently doubled as a paint gun because thick globs of red, green, and yellow gunk sprayed the walls, the floor, and me. I ran out and never looked back. It was in that very moment that I knew that motherhood was not for me.

Baby Alive found a new home in the corner of the basement. And I found a new idea that spending the rest of my life having to responsible for or connected to another person does not appeal to me for a variety of reasons:

-1- The sound of their squeaky little voices worsens my migraines. And for some awful reason, they seem to like to talk a lot.

-2- You know how some people react to nails on a chalkboard? That sound doesn’t bother me. But kiddie laughter? Now, that bothers me.

-3- Kids are expensive. You have to buy the diapers they poop on, the food they spit up, and the clothes they outgrow minutes after you get them dressed not to mention tons of other crap they break, waste or otherwise toss in the corner of the basement. Then there’s healthcare (my mom once had to pull tiny balled up pieces of paper out of the neighbor kid’s nose- so I guess a good neighbor can save you the cost of an emergency room visit), and then there’s education. We don’t save for a house until we’re grown, but we’re expected to start saving for college the day after we give birth. Does college even give you a good return on your investment? Did you see that "Pharrell freak out" video? How many times did he have to repeat himself?

Proof that college is little more than a drunken party at your parents’ expense.

-4- They smell funny. I don’t care if they just pooped or just bathed, kids have a very distinct, unpleasant smell. Starts at birth and last at least 18 years.

-5- They’re time consuming. When kids are born you alter your schedule for their feedings, naps, bathing, diaper changes. As they age, add in day care, school, afterschool activities, practices and rehearsals (my sister joked about how I was in every act at every concert growing up in school so add on the costs of a good camcorder to the list of expenses). When you’re a parent, you’re whole day and night becomes about your kid’s schedule. Some days all I want to do is sleep in late, eat dinner food for breakfast, breakfast food for dinner and lay around watching Netflix rentals all day. You can’t do that with kids. And I value my sleeping/eating/ movie time too much to give that up. Once you have a kid, that kid has you- for the rest of your so-called life.

-6- The squishy feeling of a newborn grosses me out. And those missi ng knee caps scare me a little.

-7- Kids move through one stage of annoying after another:
  • Baby stage, or "Eat/burp/poop/sleep/repeat" stage
  • Toddler stage, or "No. no. no. no. I can do it. Let me do it. No. no. no. no” stage
  • Pre-teen stage, or the “arms are too long for the body and the teeth are too big for the face” stage
  • Teen stage, or the “Lord Jesus, please keep me from killing this kid” stage
  • College stage, or the “You have a collect call from the county jail” stage
I left off what my mom calls the “size 4-6x” years because that’s the only time kids are kind of acceptable, but just barely. And if we’re honest with ourselves the young adult, middle age, older adult stages really don’t get much better but it becomes easier to avoid the buggers by then.

-8- They're entirely too much work and responsibility. Throughout the span of my childhood I have had two dogs, 4 birds, 5 fish, a turtle and multiple cats that we snuck in the house. Of these, only about 4 animals managed to escape or to leave of their own recognizance. The others have either been buried or could potentially still be in my old house on Binder St. in Detroit. Do you really trust me with a kid?
-9- Good parenting requires some kindness, patience, subtlety and sugar-coating. Good parents will say things to their kids like, “if you work really hard and do the right thing, you can have whatever you want out of life” But an honest parent would probably say something like, “Hard work and doing the right thing are great, but nothing will get you as far as stepping on the next guy.”
-10- Theoretically, I still believe in love, then marriage, then the baby carriage. But I also believe love is an illusion and marriage is for suckers and that pretty much eliminates the whole baby carriage part, doesn’t it?

I’m not knocking motherhood and those women that are crazy enough to go there because where would any of us be without our own crazy mothers, right? But I’m honest enough with myself to know that I’m a different kind of crazy.
And even though I don’t like kids very much, I don’t hate them so much as to torture one by trying to parent it without the love, energy and commitment they need and deserve.
Songs stuck in my head right now:

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