Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Young, Dumb, and Poor

Spring has sprung for sure. I'm not talking about my lilacs (blooming a month ahead of time) or the fact that my kids had spring break last week (7:45 a.m. today was truly blissful). No no, I'm way more technologically-observant than all those signs.

The pregnancy Facebook posts are popping up by the uterus-full.

I love it. The first announcement came mid-February, and since, there's been about one a week. All I have to say is winter is cold, ya'll. The due dates range from end of July to mid-October, so far. (Hey, I get that winter is cold. Two of my three kids? Born in August and September.)

Many of these announcements come from my former classmates, meaning, they are the same age as I am. I am happy for all of them, happy they are joining the ranks, happy they are experiencing things I experienced, happy I can be the old Yoda mom giving out the sage advice.

I am also happy that it's not me.

Ten years ago, I was a pioneer to 99% of my friends. In fact, when I announced my pregnancy, some of my dearest friends were still drinking from a funnel in college. I was a novelty, a conversation piece, and though all that was fun, I got lonely. It's no fun being the first of your friends to have a baby.

(Okay, for all intents and purposes, the actual first of my friends were K and M, who got a jump start on things in college. And I looked to K for advice.)

When Larry Potter was born, he too was the novelty. He was a good baby, probably my best, and I always say it was because he had no other choice. I constantly tell him (to this day) that he was my practice baby. Because, aren't all first-borns the practice babies?

(He also complains all the time that his birthday is the last in the year of my kids...September. Yeah, like I really planned it like that, LP.)

When I had LP, I jumped in with both feet. It was all going to be okay! It was going to be an adventure! Three years later, Hoover was born. I was 26 with two kids and a bank balance of $8. But still, it was all going to work out! And then, we had Mini Me 21 months after Hoover. I was working full-time. And again, the delusions came.

This is LP and me, hours after he was born. That shirt? It was a housing department t-shirt I got in college because I was an RA. Young and dumb, young and dumb...

I am completely thrilled for my friends. In some ways, I'm a little jealous, too. Would it have been nice to wait until we had things planned and settled and other responsibility-induced adjectives? You freaking bet. To have money in the bank and nice house with real furniture that you didn't get from relatives, Goodwill, or the side of the road? I fantasize about such things. To never have your kids witness a cart-full of groceries left at an Aldi's because the debit card was declined? Hell-to-the-yes. (This actually happened to me one day years ago, with all the kids with me. LP is now super anxious when we go to the grocery store. If the cart gets about half-full, he always says, "Don't you think that's enough, Mom?" If he's going to end up on a shrink's couch some day, I'd rather it be for this than because of an overwhelming sense of entitlement.)

But we had our kids when we were young, dumb, and poor. Because, honestly, if we had waited until we were more mature, smarter, and financially-sound, we may have talked ourselves out of it entirely. I truly believe this.

I found an old video tape last week. Two minutes of it are when we brought a very tiny Hoover home from the hospital. Cut to Mini-Me's birth (sorry Hoover, you can share a shrink with LP), and there is 4 year-old LP narrating before my c-section and not-even-two Hoover opening and closing cabinets in the hospital room. When we were getting ready to go home, Hoover was running down the maternity floor halls. Disgruntled Husband videotape all of this, including our arrival at home, where I had two play-pens set up...one pink with a bassinet insert for MM, and one blue one full of toys for Hoover.

I blocked out all of this. Good Lord, I was once at a stage where I had two play-pens in one room? Thank GOD I was young and dumb.

 (I also know I blocked out large portions of MM's first year, because Hoover was two. When I try to remember what it was like, I can't quite pinpoint incidents, but my blood pressure always rises. How I got through it, I'll never know.)

I am the biggest baby-pusher out there (I'm going to be a super-annoying mother-in-law someday). My friends are starting to make me proud in this capacity. Up until a few years ago, every time a friend of mine had a baby, my ovaries would start to cry. Not anymore. I can hold a baby and love holding that baby, but now I can also love giving it back to his or her sleep-deprived mommy.

I am proud of my kids, I am proud that they have seen struggle and success. Back in my income-based apartment, pregnant with LP, I was right. Things would be okay...ten years later. I'm glad I didn't know back then just how long it would take.

I love my new role. Ten years ago, I was the only one pregnant. Now, I am the well-seasoned (and well-rested) mom friend for my friends. I will hold babies, offer to babysit, even talk you off a ledge when your kid pours a full gallon of milk into the kitty litter (Hoover, circa 2007). Just know that I get to dispense this advice because 1.) I've been there, done that, bought the t-shirt, 2.) My house is quiet because my kids are old enough to go to school and 3.) No one was able to do it for me.

Now, someone give me a baby to hold.