An Accidental Tourist in the State of Parenthood
Welcome to In Sock Monkey Slippers’ first installment of “Musings of a Mid-Life Mom,” the monthly column by Ashley Bass. A gut clenching, chin dropping, enthusiastic view on kids, men and all the other stuff that gives us wrinkles!
So, here I am at 36, living next door to the Institution of Marriage, two lefts from a Rite of Passage, and a few blocks over from the Street of Broken Dreams. I, Ashley Bass, find myself with a husband, two kids, and a small business. Because of all of this, I’m sure there must be Insane Asylum just a stone’s throw away.
It was only 11 years ago that I was fancy free, in between two marriages, and having the time of my life. Then, only six years ago I was fancy free, after that second failed marriage, and living and working in Austin. All that craziness ended when I ran into a high school boyfriend (who I had told in 10th grade that I would marry). We happily reconnected and settled in to a pretty cozy long distance romance. After dating for a while, Jason and I decided to make Champagne Sunday a weekly tradition, 9 months later we had a daughter. Then a mere eight months after she appeared on the scene we had yet another lovely Sunday with champagne, and nine months later we had a son. He is proof that breast-feeding is not a reliable form of birth control. Needless to say, we’ve stopped drinking champagne.
Now we are accidental parents. I say this because I had it on pretty good authority from a ‘Haaavaad’ doctor (that’s Harvard for all of us who don’t speak ‘snob’) that after a miscarriage and a mighty awesome ectopic that resulted in the loss of a tube along with some bad scarring, I couldn’t have children. When a ‘Haaavaad’ doctor tells you that you need not worry about birth control anymore because you can’t have children, you don’t bother to waste your beer money on the pill. HUH! Meet Jake and Libby, my non-children! And so at 36 years old, I write this column with rainbow painted fingernails. I can tell all of the reading public with absolute certainty that Hello Kitty brand fingernail polish is not up to the quality one would hope for in a cartoon character’s polish. After just two days it’s all chipped off and ‘trailer’ looking. However, this little daughter of mine is so happy that our fingernail polish is chipping in the same way, I have not taken it off.
Imagine if you will, that you have gone into a lovely maternity and children’s clothing boutique. The nice lady behind the counter asks you if you need anything, takes a few things to a dressing room, and starts speaking with some authority about pregnancy and post-partum care. As you listen and laugh (because she’s really rather witty and charming) you glance down at her nails… and there is where you hear the screeching of tires in your brain and all credibility goes out the window. Who is this person talking to me about breast health and proper posture to ensure a good ‘latch’? She’s obviously making it all up, and I’m sure she just said the word ‘shit’. She isn’t to be trusted! Alas, it is I. Once the procurer of a degree in Literature and Latin. Once the reader of myriad books. Once the young, skinny, mid-twenties gal who made fun of you in the mall while you were struggling to get your toddler to shut up just long enough so you could pay for your husband’s underwear. I am the walking, talking example of what ‘oops’ can do for you.
However ridiculous this parenting thing is, and however much pressure all those other ‘uber-moms’ put on all of us ‘normal moms’, I wouldn’t trade this stupid, funny, pride-sucking, intelligence-shrinking ride for nothin’! I’ve never laughed this deeply, hurt this completely, loved this fully, and enjoyed embarrassment this much…ever! And I’ve been drunk in public A LOT.