… you get into the middle of a job and panic because you’re not sure if you’re capable of finishing or if you want to finish… but you have to finish because you signed a 20-year contract saying you would? And you’re the only one who can do this particular job anyhow and by golly you can’t back out now? Is this the stuff mid-life crises are made of?
We’ve been sick for two weeks at our house. A yucky bug has had all five of us down for the count. I’ve been puked on, coughed on, and sneezed on. I have washed all the bedding in the house at least three times. I have watched waaaay too much Disney Channel. And I am low on oxygen because my nose is plugged and I’ve slept less than usual and I had to miss a get-together I was looking forward to and my list of things I’d love to do (i.e. not my daily menial labor list) keeps growing while, in reality, it’s a full-time job just keeping everyone alive around here.
About Day 12 of Yucky Bug, it hit me: I am in the middle of a project I can’t back out of now, no matter how hard it gets. This project is called Mission Raise the Blake Children. My husband and I thought we were so smart bringing these adorable miniatures into the world. And now — gasp! — it is our responsibility to shape them into decent human beings. No else is going to do it for us. We have to finish. We won’t get to rest for, like, another 20 years. Who knew? (If more people took this commitment seriously, wouldn’t our country be in a better place?)
I feel a little bit like the universe has played a trick on me. Hey, I signed up for precious newborns. I wasn’t thinking about nonstop 5-year-olds, stinky 12-year-olds, and hormonal 16-year-olds when this ball started rolling.
I’m afraid that God has parenting all set up so that rookies get the easy jobs. Maybe as the years go by the work gets progressively harder and harder and you don’t even realize it because you’re conditioned to the pain. Oh, you think having a newborn is plenty hard while you’re in the middle of it, but little do you know the real labor is still ahead. Maybe pregnancy, birth, late-night feedings, diaper changes, and sleep and potty training are child’s play compared to what’s going to happen in the next couple decades, which can be summed up as nonstop sacrifice of self.
But there’s no getting out now, Tami Jo! Ha ha ha ha ha! You’re committed! Didn’t you read the fine print before you signed?
I mean, sure, of course I’ve always known that babies grow into kids and then young adults. But that’s sure not what I was thinking about in the throes of reproducing. I wasn’t thinking: Gee, it will become my all-consuming job to shape them into decent human beings, even after they’re as big as me. If I start them, I will need to finish them. Society is depending on me.
If we lived in an ideal world where fertile people actually considered the possibility of having a baby before making one, there would be a mandatory class for potential parents. So that people could thoroughly understand: you shouldn’t subject the world to something you’ve created but won’t control. If you make a baby, you will be responsible for a) keeping it alive and b) helping it become a decent human being. PEOPLE, DO YOU UNDERSTAND? THIS IS, LIKE, A 20-YEAR COMMITMENT!
Sorry for yelling at myself in front of you there. Just pumping myself up for the long haul.
Don’t worry about me. I’m going to persevere. We’ll get past These Weeks of the Yucky Bug and suddenly the kids’ll seem so much older — like I blinked once and missed a chapter — and surely once I can breathe through my nose again I’ll regain that faithful ol’ hope for the wonderful things I might accomplish with my life other than washing cereal spoons.
I know our children are a wonderful gift. Most days I am happy to put my wants and needs on pause for their sake. We feel blessed to have this privilege and responsibility.
Which is the responsibility of turning them into decent human beings. Which is an (estimated) 20-year process. Which takes me right back to where I began…