When I was a teenager, I had my life planned out. I’d drive a sports car, be a vet, and own my own horse racing stable. I never planned to be a mother.
Mama thought differently. “Embrace motherhood,” she’d say, ‘it’s your destiny and it’s so rewarding.”
I disagreed. I didn’t believe waking up all hours of the night and wearing a permanent badge of spit-up made me a candidate for a Nobel Peace Prize. And I never saw game show contestants elated over a year’s supply of dirty diapers.
If given the choice, I’d have chosen a puppy over a kid any day. Dogs didn’t need to be burped after every meal (ever try to throw a Doberman over your shoulder?), dressed in fancy clothes (I tried that once and my Husky ran off wearing my undies), and could be put outside when they were unruly.
Children were just noisy small people who got their way by throwing fits in public. I tried that once when I was twenty-one and a posh, member’s only club denied me access. The only thing I gained by screaming and rolling around on the ground was dirty clothes and a brief stint in the back of a patrol car.
I married when I was twenty-two. One by one, my childhood dreams disappeared. I drove a Nissan Sentra, my job was at a local clothing store, and the closest thing I got to a racetrack was watching local children ride the plastic horses outside the Kroger supermarket.
After only a month of marriage, I felt empty and unsettled. There had to be more to life than scrubbing toilets and yelling at TV talk show hosts. I asked my husband Joe for a puppy, believing that would fill the void. Something must have been lost in translation because three months later I was pregnant and still dogless.
I didn’t radiate beauty like most soon to be mothers. Morning sickness left me feeling like road kill, and the toilet and I became best friends.
Month by month, I watched, horrified, as my size seven body began to resemble a cow’s. By the third trimester, I’d given up on ever seeing my feet again. For all I knew, they’d run away (in protest of the weight gain) and I was left to traipse around on two aching nubs.
Finally, the day arrived when our precious son, Travis was born. His arm wavering like an overcooked noodle, he reached out his tiny hand, touching my cheek and my heart. I blinked back tears as I stared at the bubble gum-pink colored bundle cradled in my arms. He looked like ET’s cousin, but I adored him. Kids weren’t so bad after all.
Eight years after Travis was born, I again felt unsettled and empty, and again I asked Joe for a puppy. Nine months later, I had my second son, Cameron.
Cameron is a preschooler now and some of his greatest joys are chasing cars and trying to eat kibble spilled on supermarket floors. At least this time I got a little closer to getting what I asked for.
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