Sunday, September 12, 2010

weekly writing workshop

Last week, I was searching through my favorite blogs and I came across the weekly writing assignment from MamaKat. That’s something I’ve participated in from time to time. And the prompts this week really made me laugh. But life has been a whirlwind this week and I just didn’t have the time to sit at the computer and write.

But then, this morning, as I was doing dishes, I watched Chelsea Handler doing stand up on Comedy Central and it go me not only laughing, but thinking back to MamaKat and her funny prompts.

So, 4 days late for the party:

What did you used to have in common with your child-bearing friends and why you still love them anyway.

I’ve been thinking of this quite a bit over the past few years. Most of my friends have been taking the leap into parenthood and I’ve been watching, fascinated. And while I think having a child is wonderful, I never fully realized that having a child is sort of like being abducted by aliens and being replaced by a pod person.

I’m not sure if newborns emit some kind of mind altering pheromones or something, but one of the first symptoms of parenthood is amnesia. The moment their baby is born, parents completely forget what their life was like before children. Strangely, they all seem to remember their lives as being way more exciting with much less responsibility.

A few months ago, I was talking to a friend of mine, a SAHM with a three year old. She was waxing poetically about what her life was like before she became a mom. How she used to party until dawn and sleep till noon. How she would jet off to Vegas or the Playboy Mansion at a moment’s notice. And what about that time she danced naked on a yacht with Diddy?

“What? You were a kindergarten teacher!” I said.

“Yes,” she replied. “But a kindergarten teacher who PARTIED!”

“But you and your husband vegged out on the sofa watching movies BEFORE you even had a baby.”

“Oh, I wouldn’t expect you to understand,” she said. “You don’t have responsibilities like I do.”

“Look, I’d love to continue this debate, but I gotta go. I worked 12 hours today and I gotta get into work by 7am tomorrow if I want to be able to go to my niece’s dance recital tomorrow night.”

“See!” she wailed, “Your work day ends when you come home! I work 24 hours a day, seven days a week!”

Which brings me to another mystery: what constitutes “work” and what constitutes “time off” between those with children and those without. Look, I know that staying up all night with a crying child who has a fever is a thankless, exhausting, emotionally draining task. But why is filling the washing machine with onesis and bibs an act on par with building orphanages in the slums of Calcutta? Especially when my throwing in a load of sheets and towels is viewed as equal to hanging out with Snookie and the gang in Atlantic City?

When my friends gave birth, I did not suddenly acquire Mary Poppins-like powers allowing my apartment to clean itself, my clothes to put themselves away, and groceries to buy themselves, whip themselves into nutritious dishes, and then go live in my fridge. (Which kind of sucks. I would LOVE to be able to do all that!) So if we are both on the floor scrubbing out the toilet, why can’t we either BOTH be working or BOTH be enjoying our leisure time?

And about that leisure time: I use mine to run. And bike. And swim. To lift weights and do yoga. I do this because I like to. Also, because if I didn’t do these things, I would probably climb the nearest bell-tower with a rifle and start picking off pedestrians. Exercise keeps me sane. It’s also wicked fun! But I don’t expect everyone to spend their leisure time the way I do.

I have some friends who ground themselves with a cup of tea and a chapter from a good book. Other friends need a half hour of trash TV to forget their worries. I have one friend who designs stained glass hangings and sells them at craft fairs. (It’s really cool. She’s so talented my head hurts when I look at her stuff)

Something weird happens when you have kids, though. You start saying things like: “Well, I could do triathlons, too. But I have kids, so I don’t have time.” Even if you hate running. And haven’t run since high school gym class when you had to do those presidential fitness tests. Even if you hate sports and competition of any kind. Even if you once went to a super bowl party and asked “Who’s Tom Brady?”

Plus, I see tons of people at triathlons with kids. They don’t have ONE child, either. They usually have 5 or so. (I’m guessing two defensemen and three forwards. Mom and Dad take turns being goalie.) The collective resume of these 5 kids reads something like this: alternate for the Olympic ski team, college scholarships in lacrosse, gymnastics, and baseball, summiting all 48 high points in the continental USA, and walking the entire Pacific Crest Trail at age 16. They begin their athletic endeavors by blowing by my sorry ass during the run portion of triathlons. Even though their wave started 12 minutes after mine. I’m not positive, but triathlete parents may ACTUALLY be aliens beings! You know, of a more highly evolved race that are just slumming it on earth for a while. So it’s probably not even fair to be mentioning them at all.

My original point is: training for a marathon is NOTHING like carrying another human being in your uterus for nine months. Stop comparing them!

Of course, I can stop marathon and triathlon training at any time, as unadvisable as it may be. It’s a very bad idea for all of mankind, but I do have that option. I could quit my job that keeps me those long hours and decide to travel around the world with nothing but a backpack. Which, on the other hand, is very advisable. (Let’s face it; its pretty much inevitable in my little world.) I could stop cleaning the bathroom; I could live in a tent without a bathroom if I wanted to!

My friends with children don’t have the option to stop being parents, even for a little while. They’ve made a decision from which there is no turning back. Maybe THAT’S what all the odd behavior is about?

Maybe it’s not that they actually think I sit around all day in my underwear, eating bon bons and drinking whiskey. Rather, they know that my decisions are still all my own. They do know I work hard and I work long hours. But they also know that ultimately the only one who depends on me is me. And to them, being free of the fear that one mistake will affect another little person permanently really is like having no responsibility at all.

So I can forgive them for the crazy behavior. Because I know it really isn’t about me. And I can continue to love them for the people I know they still are underneath the craziness.

Now… about the set ups with your creepy co-workers because you want to see me settled already…

No comments: