September 10, 2009 by skwishface
There was no written exam for becoming a parent. I really think there should’ve been. And maybe also a background check.
When The Boy was a week old, a doctor came to The Husband and I, asking for our consent to perform a spinal tap. Why is she asking me?, I wondered. Doesn’t she know I’m a temp in a call center? Surely I’m not the final authority, here. And then I realized that The Husband and I were, in fact, the final authority. It would take lawyers to make anybody else capable of giving this doctor consent. The whole idea came crashing down on my skull and it was so huge I fell over dead. Or I cried. One of the two.
There are times when The Girl is napping peacefully, so I step out of the room to do silly things like go to the bathroom. She’ll wake up, look around, see that nobody’s in the room, and holler at the top of her lungs. I hurry back to her side and find her little eyes darting around in baby panic, full of big rolling crocodile tears. She hears my voice, her gaze finds my face, and she smiles. Sometimes she’s so reassured that she falls right back to sleep. Everything in the world is alright, because Mommy is here. And I stand here, honored and a little horrified that she trusts me so completely. Doesn’t she know that I experimented with psychadelics in college? She is placing her complete faith in someone who once spent four hours debating the moral implications and logistics of falling in love with – and marrying – the ceiling in a friend’s apartment.
In middle school, I used to play in a drainage ditch and catch baby water mocassins. In college, my friends and I would get liquored up and take turns jumping headlong off of a ten-foot waterfall. Covered in slimy mold. With jagged rocks below. I rode horses and bikes with no helmet, sometimes in traffic. I dated sociopathic guys way too old for me, and drove barely-functioning cars way too fast. So every time I see The Boy scrambling onto the arm of the couch, presumably in preparation for launch, and I hear the warning-laden words “Be careful!” come out of my mouth … well, I feel like a bit of a hypocrite.
An argument could be made that all of my youthful shenanigans have helped to settle me, and have prepared me for whatever mischief my own children get up to. I suppose that’s true enough, but still … I want to go back in time to that moment when the maternity nurse walked The Husband and I out to our car with our brand new baby Boy, hugged us, wished us luck, and went away. I want to grab her arm and say Wait! You barely even know us! Are you sure we’re qualified for this?
But I know she would just pat me on the head and smile and send me on my way. I guess nobody knows for sure if they’re qualified to be a parent. You just kind of make it up as you go. Every now and then you laugh because if you don’t, you’ll just cry. Because it’s scary.
It’s a good thing my kids are cute, yo. Takes the edge off.