The other morning, I was trying to fall back to sleep after letting one of the too-many dogs out for a too-early pee break. There wasn’t a ton of time before the alarm would go off and force me to drag my sorry self out of bed for the day, propelling me forward into the land of make-believe where I’m a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, good mother. But there was also too much time to just suck it up and start the coffee so I laid my head on the pillow and gave it the old college try. Which got me thinking about college.
I began to wonder which laundry detergent would be the best option to purchase for my son. Should I send him with those pod things? They take up little room but they’re also kind of expensive. Then I remembered that my nephew used these detergent sheets, like dryer sheets but for washing your clothes. Of course, neither of those are very natural and therefore not a good choice for the environment. So I started considering alternatives and remembered that I have a big bag of soap nuts (yes, that’s actually a thing ) and what a perfect choice they are since they’re small, compact, AND good for the earth.
Did I mention my son has two years of high school left?
So what exactly happens to us when we have kids? What part of our brain turns away from our own selves and our wants and needs, only to embrace all the crazy of motherhood? Why am I worrying about laundry detergent, two years in advance, when history tells me the child will never even once do his own laundry when he gets to college? I am, after all, the wife of his father, the man for whom I spent 42 straight hours doing two years worth of dirty laundry when we were in college. Not only did I set an alarm for every hour, around the clock, to complete this sordid task, I earned the contempt of my roommate, who called me a disgrace to womankind, then proceeded to move out and never speak to me again (really, that was all very dramatic — I just couldn’t take the smell anymore). If I were a betting woman, I would put all my money on large duffle bags of putrescence arriving on my doorstep each holiday.
I think the crazy started to make itself known in my second trimester. I bought headphones for my baby bump. They attached to a microphone so I could read and sing lullabies to my unborn baby. I wasn’t kidding about the crazy. And you haven’t even heard me sing. After he was born, if I tried to read the same story that I had faithfully recited each night for the last six months of my pregnancy, he would scream uncontrollably. From the very first word. I still have mixed feelings about that.
That’s also around the same time the nightmares started. The most common one carried through until my second child was well past toddlerhood. In this chilling scenario, I’m at the supermarket. Wait, there’s more. I’ve left my baby(s) at home. Alone. Whilst wheeling my cart from aisle to aisle, it suddenly dawns on me that there is no child in the basket. In a total panic, I try to run out of the store but endless things prevent me from getting back to my child(ren). And I never tell anyone why I’m so hysterical because I’m worried they’ll call CPS and take away the only perfect thing(s) I’ve ever made.
Every time, I’d wake up with a racing heart, desperately groping in the dark, reassuring myself that either the baby was not yet born, or was, in fact, sleeping peacefully next to me — “was” being the operative word. And it takes awhile for nightmare fear to subside. Probably if the aforementioned child hadn’t woken up, I would have accidentally poked at him/her until I was sure they were alive anyway.
However, I think the most crazy thing that I’ve developed as a mother is the belief that any time my child is away from me and doesn’t respond to my text within 16 seconds, they must be dead, maimed, or lying in a ditch somewhere. No matter that I don’t know of any ditches in the immediate area. My mind instantly goes to that dark place. In less time then it takes for my child to roll his/her eyes at the incoming, raving-lunatic, text messages, I have envisioned an entire scenario wherein said child is at the bottom of the well and Lassie is nowhere to be found. (And, no, I do not have a well, nor do I know anyone who does. Have I not already stated that reality has no place in my hysteria?)
I remember asking my aunt once, “So when do you stop worrying about them?” and she laughed and laughed. “At least when they live with you, you know where they are each night.” Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. I never even considered the perils that could befall them outside my sphere of influence. A serial killer could have them tied up for days and I would think they’re just working the brackets of a Frisbee tournament. Good God, I have a whole new horror movie scenario to create now. So much for sleep.
I can usually drink enough tea — and by tea, I mean wine — to help me slumber. But I’d like to get my dogs to sleep through the night, too. Because no one else gets to experience a desperate dog, three inches from their face, in the middle of the night. They save that for the only person who would actually get out of bed, anyway. Maybe tonight I’ll try a little aromatherapy. I would just shake lavender essential oil directly onto the dog beds, but if you want to get fancy, you can make your own diffuser. Sheknows.com has a super easy plan involving twigs. Just make sure your dog doesn’t eat them. Because mine definitely would.