Tuesday, March 3, 2015

fill the void with cheese

This was another one of those seeds for a post that I came across back in November, right around the time I just let go of the reins on life. I'm still ridin' bareback, gettin' bucked (with a B) from time to time, and taking three months to complete a blog post, but, here you go.

I saw this article on Scary Mommy titled "The Void When You're Done Having Children." The author, Toni Hammer, talks about how she had two babies in a calendar year, she knew didn't want any more children, her husband got a vasectomy, it was the right decision for her, her family, and her body... But, there's a void where the next child would have been, and she's even given this imaginary next child a name (it's a girl)...

When I first read this I was thinking, "Ummmmmm.... maybe you should see about getting that vasectomy reversed because it definitely does not sound like you were ready to be done with baby-making." But if the comments, and related articles, and the people I know in real life are any indication, this is actually a pretty common thing. Maybe, for some people, it's money, or logistics, or something more practical that prevents them from having more children. But I definitely know people who theoretically did not want any more children, but still agonized over the decision to make it a surgical surety.

If you know much about me, you can probably guess I was NOT one of those people. I have been actively campaigning for a vasectomy/tubal ligation OR BOTH since, oh, about three minutes after my daughter was born. (To be honest, I started campaigning after Baby #1). I had zero hesitation, and zero regrets. Interestingly (and I don't know if this is some sort of manly manhood thing), my husband was the one who was hesitant to bite the bullet. At first, when Colby had some serious, unknown, possibly life-threatening health issues, his reasoning was, "Well, what if something happens to her..." [On a side note, I have never found this a compelling argument. What're you gonna do, have a replacement kid? That seems pretty shitty for all parties involved.] After it became clear that Miss Colby Jean was as healthy as a horse (well, as healthy as a horse with one kidney can be), his reasoning became a little more nebulous, but I will tell you, it was kind of like pulling teeth. I guess this is just further evidence that I am missing whatever gene makes you super mommy-ish, but I had no such misgivings. JUST GIMME THE SCALPAL! I'll do it myself!

Now. I hope this goes without saying. I love my kids. LOVE them. Crazy love them. They rocked my world, and became my world. I would not change a single thing. But, honestly, my original descent into motherhood was a happy, terrifying accident. I always wanted children, theoretically, but I never suffered from this ubiquitous biological clock which, apparently, tolls for everyone but me. Then, after I had one baby, I was DONE. The End. Finito. But DM made a compelling case for another mini, and I started thinking about what my life would be like without my brother and sister, and eventually I came around. And let me tell you, I am SO GLAD we had another. Not only because Colby is radical and I can't imagine our family without her. But also because seeing these two little humans (that we hand-crafted from tequila and love and sunshine. take THAT, you hipster mo-fos) playing together, thick as thieves, is THE BEST THING EVER. Seriously, major heart meltage.

nothing better than when they are being adorable little partners in crime.
not pictured: when they are kung-fu-ing each other in the head and non-stop shrieking out of their face holes
And I'm sure, as I think I've said before, that if surgical interventions went awry and I got knocked up again, baby #3 would also become an indispensable part of our family. Actually, it could probably just take my spot because #3 (it will be a boy and we will call him CHEDDAH) would very likely send me straight to the loony bin. I am already balancing precariously on the precipice. But, the point is, I don't know a single person who regrets having had a child, whether or not that child was in their original "life plan."

It's impossible to talk about in a vacuum, really. But I think that's just, like, the biological/ psychological reality/ necessity of growing a family. I am so happy with my two crazy critters. I feel as though my family is complete. But. I think, if I didn't know what I was missing, if I hadn't met WHO I was missing, I would have been perfectly happy with a family of three. Or even, dare I say, a family of two? Or even just little old me? I always imagined my future with a husband ("life partner") and children in it, but if for whatever reason that didn't happen, I have to think there are many different happy trajectories on life can take. Granted, I would be a crazy dog lady. But who's to say that's not a joyful journey in its own right?

The author of the article would probably disagree. She writes that The Void "reminds [her] of how silly and foolish [she] was to have thought [she] never wanted children in the first place." I'm sure she wasn't trying to be mean, but, to me, it definitely comes off as a little harsh toward people who don't have kids, by choice or otherwise. I get where she's coming from. I do. Once you have kids, it is literally impossible to remember what life was like "Before." It is also literally impossible to remember what you had for breakfast. DM and I sit there sometimes like, "What did we used to do?" It is just so far beyond the realm of our current comprehension.

But I don't think it's fair to say that not wanting children is silly or foolish. Some days I think it might be fucking brilliant. I liken it to... bread, or cheese, or whiskey, or chimichangas, or coolhaus salted-caramel-snickerdoodle ice cream sandwiches or [insert whatever food or beverage brings you utter cosmic bliss]. Then imagine that consumption of said comestible regularly gives you a terrible case of the runs. That's like having children. Mind-bogglingly awesome, but, at times, literally and figuratively shitty. Now, imagine you never ever tasted the edible-salted-caramel-orgasm referenced above. You're happy, because you don't know what you're missing. And, conveniently, you get to avoid sitting on the toilet peeing out of your butt so long you lose all feeling in the lower half of your body. (I'm really just trying to drive this analogy home.)

So, yeah. That's my two cents.

Also, here is a list (not exhaustive) of things you can use to fill The Void:

* The Good Bourbon
* Coolhaus salted-caramel-snickerdoodle ice cream sandwiches
* Whatever diaper-priced things make you happy, because you are DUNZO
* Silence (infrequent and somewhat suspicious, but still)
* New carpet in a color other than poo-browny-beige
* New kitchen table that my arms and tableware do not stick to
* UN-sensible shoes and undergarments
* Other Nice Things
* Sex (without stressing about birth control, or babies!)
* Books without pictures
* Occasional conversations without fart jokes (if your husband is behaving)
* Vacations free of homicidal/suicidal tendencies
* Dinners made of real, grown-up food, rather than half-eaten leftovers from someone else's plate
* Or, eating popcorn and drinking wine for dinner. Because you can, that's why.
* Crafts, without glitter ending up in the carpet and in various bodily crevices, or someone gluing their fingers together, or getting stabbed with kiddie scissors
* Cheese

What void?
^ Note, may have to wait 18-25 years post-vasectomy for some of these benefits to take effect :)
PS. "The Void" works both ways. The other day I was talking to my colleague, whose wife just had their third baby. He was saying he thought they were done with two, but now they're really done. The wife doesn't eat sugar or gluten. I told him he better hurry the f*ck up and get snipped if he doesn't want any more kids, because she is going to keep filling the sugar/gluten void with babies. We all have our vices :) Oh, yeah, by the way, tune back for a post about gluten and how karma's a bitch, coming soon.

PPS. This is funny. New post on Scary Mommy - 9 Thoughts I Had During My Husband's Vasectomy. And it all comes full circle. So glad to know the phantom baby kicks happen to others and I am not just completely losing my marbles.

** If you liked this post, you'll love my essay in I Still Just Want to Pee Alone, Available Now! **
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