I pretty much had it all together before I became a parent. The career, the social life, the travel and experiences. Everything was going along swimmingly. I knew who I was and what to expect.
And then my world was rocked.
Not once, not twice, but three times over the course of four years. By three little men who demanded my complete attention. My complete everything, really.
And as the memories of hip restaurants and exotic travel slowly dissipated into the background of my new sleep-deprived life, I found myself doing things my pre-kid self could never have imagined. I suck boogers out of little noses.
Literally. With my mouth. Fortunately there is an apparatus that allows me to do so without actually ingesting said boogers (thank you, Nosefrida), but it is still disgusting. Yet necessary, as I’ve quickly learned that regular old nasal aspirators simply can’t suck out the same volume of snot as my mouth can. I sniff butts for bowel movements.
Ah yes, I’m a pro at the old one-handed-butt-lift-and-sniff maneuver. It’s simply the only way to know with certainty whether a diaper needs to be changed. And in order to avoid a false alarm, I’ve mastered the art of discerning between the scent of an actual crap or a simple fart.
I watch Caillou.
Don’t judge me. You would too if it was a choice between that and a symphony of blaring musical toys and fights over who gets to flush the toilet. I clean fecal matter off of everything.
I used to think that picking up after the dog was gross. Now I can clean up human poop smeared all over little people and their belongings without a flinch. Bonus points for having called an on-call pediatrician about how to handle a child who has possibly swallowed poop (and learning that it apparently happens “all the time”). I go to sleep by 9 p.m.
Okay, 8:30 p.m. Maybe sooner if I’m lucky. Pretty much moments after I get the kids tucked in. Never mind that this would have formerly been the time of our dinner reservations, hours before we began getting ready to go out for the night.
I lose my sh*t.
I used to be so cool. If I didn’t agree with something, I could easily let it go. But kids have a way of unraveling your very last nerve. I ask them nicely. They ignore me. I ask them more firmly. They continue. Then before you know it I’ve become a screaming shrew with a bulging forehead vein. I scope out the neighborhood for cool parks.
And by cool, I mean parks that are fully enclosed with latching gates. With minimal concrete and maximum green space. And adequate shade.
I whip out my boobs anywhere and everywhere.
I offer them up willingly while cooing, “Are you hungry?”, enduring tugs and bites on my calloused nipples. Wearing shirts and bras with hidden holes and stretchy panels for easy access. What about modesty, you ask? Out the window from the moment I delivered my first child.
I implore people not to lick doorknobs.
Or their shoes. Or the Target cart. Or their brother’s foot. As I obsessively slather them in hand sanitizer in a futile attempt to prevent illness.
I drive a minivan.
What have I become? I never pined for a shiny new minivan. But now it’s my vehicle of choice. The only metal box that can fit my entire brood and all their stuff — safely! And, yes, I’ve now become the mom who waxes poetic about the many practical features of her minivan. I go to chain restaurants.
The places I would turn my nose up at in the past have now become our family hangouts. Kid menus? Cheap alcohol? Yes, please! If I drink enough it dulls the noise to where I can almost imagine I’m at a refined Michelin-starred restaurant.
I allow myself to be mauled.
By little people climbing all over me. Grabbing, hanging, and hugging. Every day. Tugging at my clothes and clinging to my leg. Kicking me in the night. Sweaty hands cupping my face. Slobbery kisses. While I sit, sometimes patiently and sometimes not, trying to embrace the violent onslaught of affection that will be gone before I know it.
Because it truly is fleeting.
I recognize this even as I shout at my kids to stop jumping on the bed for the 67th time. As sticky little fingers jut under the bathroom door when I try to pee in peace. I realize that these moments will at some point again cease to exist in my life.
And then the moments I never thought I’d experience will suddenly become the ones I miss.
Faye is a mid-life mother of three who spends her time writing, chasing kids, and trying to get some sleep. She writes for The Huffington Post and her work has appeared on Scary Mommy, Mamapedia, Modern Mom, and in other publications. She chronicles her experiences in making the leap to self-employment, her adventures in parenting, and her other favorite topics on her blog at Leap of Faye. She can also be found onFacebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.