It occurred to me last night ( a glorious night – where we actually succeeded at getting the kids fed and in bed early, ate our dinner alone and watched a movie – what??!?!?), as I was sipping on a glass of some really good red wine – and then a second – that was of course even better – just how much the meaning of things (words, signals, actions, etc), have changed in our life since having kids.
We’ve gone from a kiss at the door to a casual nod across the room, with my inability to move, as my poor husband walks in the door using his work backpack as a shield, captain America style. There is no telling what lies ahead as he opens that portal to chaos… flying wood blocks, Thor’s hammer, a camelbak full of juice, a wet dog, a glue stick, a child, slipping on a magnatile, stepping in obliterated gold fish- or worst of all – me. Something or someone will inevitably attack him.
This sets the scene for our communication in the evenings. From the time he walks in until we hit the hay – it’s an all out warrior dash style, dirty, ugly, fit pitching race. Race to get the kids fed. Race to get the kids to bed. Race to get the house back “straight” (let’s face it – it’s NEVER clean). Race to get in bed – and Race to – wait, what race. I’m awake – like wide awake – and Ken’s snoring. He’ll start it all over again at about 5am, and I’ll be up most of the night, then get up with the kids around 7 to start the circus all over again.
So, the shift in our lifestyle and schedules has changed – not the so much the way we communicate – but the meaning of what we say. . . see if you can relate…
20 THINGS THAT JUST DON’T MEAN THE SAME THING ANYMORE
- ” Hi.” 6 years ago Hi was a sweet, coy, playful – I’m glad you are home! How are you? How was your day? I love you! – vs.- now, it’s usually said with a low grumble and means – batter up. Your turn. Good Luck-I’m checking out. I hate you for leaving me here alone all day to start with.
- “Having a glass of wine” – Meant a bottle, or at least splitting a bottle. – vs.- now, it’s more like I pour a glass, maybe take two sips, sit it down and forget about it – until the nightly clean-up, dump it out, stare longingly at the bottle with two glasses worth left in it, turn it up for a swig or two and dump the rest, knowing it will spoil before I get around to having another glass.
- “Dieting” This week – we are eating healthy! Salads for everyone!! – vs. – now, we’ve really got to stop eating Oreos at bedtime – how about a brownie instead? (did I mention we stress eat?)
- “I appreciate you” – thanks for picking up my dry-cleaning or making dinner! – vs. – now, thanks for keeping our children alive and safe and not turning into to a mumbling mess in a a straight jacket in the corner – or – thank you for killing yourself day after a day to provide for our family so we can sit and stress eat brownies together.
- “Sleeping In” – 10:00, maybe even eleven if I put the pillow over my head and shut the blinds. – vs.- 7:15. That 15 extra minutes is pure gold…like better than chocolate or maybe even my Starbucks coffee.
- “Clean” as in a clean house or floor – as in the cleaners haven’t been here since Tuesday – trash that it hit the floor, and scrubbing ovens and baseboards – vs.- looks ok, smells ok, rinse it off – it’s good – and throw the toys in the baskets and stack everything else on the dining room table – I’ll deal with it…umm… scratch that, just stack it on the table, then we’ll have some clean clothes downstairs for an emergency.
- “Chocolate” – godiva, as dark as possible, and sinfully rich. – vs.- stale mini mm’s I found in the center console, melted together, that I used two days ago to bribe the twins to stop fighting.
- “Left-Overs” – Chinese take-out, best eaten on the couch or in bed with a movie. – vs.- Ooh! I found a skittle!! Check that – wasn’t a skittle – possibly something plastic. Ouch. Mental note – when eating found candy – only go for jelly belly jelly beans (the ones that the color hasn’t faded on and that aren’t sticky – that just means they probably sucked on them or licked them – ugh.) They hold over well and are quite distinguishable from other unknown items.
- “Sharing” – trading bites of some delectable dishes at a great restaurant or eating a bowl of ice cream with two spoons – vs. – never actually getting a bite of “my” cookie because the kids wanted a bite and I gave it to them first and they contaminated it beyond the point of safe consumption with dirty finger nails and snot – before forcibly shoving it in Ken’s mouth to “taste it – it’s good dad”. Mmmm…..
- “Cussing” – the F word. Like anything else was probably fine – except the F word. That was swearing – but we still said it – like – all the time – vs. Shoot, Sugar, and a few others have been found as suitable replacements in a pinch but otherwise, Shut-up, Stupid, any word for the male genetalia other that “peepee” or “penis” is pretty much off limits, any word for the female parts except “hootie (don’t ask)” “hooha” or “vagina” is forbidden, and every 4 letter word that comes to mind when your threenager loses their “f’ing” mind in a kicking, slapping, biting, tantrum of a fit in the middle of the Target floor over a pack of princess puppy puffy stickers.
- “Exercise” – P90x, Baby!! or Running – like, compulsive running – vs. – I’ve carried a 34lb, 3 years old on my right hip for 2 hours straight. Tomorrow…tomorrow I’ll switch sides.
- “Knee problems” – an old sports injury to my left knee that caused pain in the rain or when running, easily fixed with ice – vs. – joints that crack loud enough when I stand from a squatting position that they wake a soundly sleeping baby it took an hour to get to sleep- therefore I crawl on all fours like a stalking dog out of her room to keep from straightening them.
- “Cuddling” spooning for hours until we fell asleep despite the arm that was numb and the inability to breathe – vs. – Ken squeezing the life out of a king size pillow he hugs and holds between his knees so he can cuddle something since we have a 17 month old deposited sideways in the middle of our bed and I can’t go to sleep with anything but the covers touching me after being pregnant.
- “Silence” that awkward thing when we didn’t know what to say but rarely ever happened because we felt compelled to fill the air with something just for the sake of talking to each other – vs.- that invaluable 5 seconds where no kid is screaming, crying, fighting, laughing, wallowing on the floor, or needing anything, no dog is barking, no phone is ringing, and if you speak, I’ll cut you – like bad, like probably dead.
- “Travel” this thing we did a few times, kind of like a vacation, that was SOOO cool!! and fun! It was FUN! I wanted to try it again…and then we did… with kids…NOT Cool. I need a valium just thinking about it. Strollers and car seats and 80 suit cases and 500 pieces of clothes I’ll just have to put back up when we get home and snacks and drinks and I’ve gotta peepee and now I’ve gotta pee pee and we just freakin’ peed for Christ sake! and I’m hungry, and my brother hit me, and she bit me and he touched me, and she has my dogdog, and dogdog has to peepee. You know what – screw dogdog – he’s a $3 stuffed animal from IKEA, he does not have to peepee….and we need gas, who has to peepee?
- “Lingerie” – some lace something from VS that cost more and had less material than the average pre-baby “I’m still sexy” undies – vs. – the leggings I’ve had on going on three days that have some unidentified substance on the butt with an old stretchy maternity tank top because it pulls down long enough to cover said substance – and my bathrobe – annnd … don’t forget my Uggs – gotta take those dogs outside before bed. HOT, right?
- “Fooling around” – Quite obviously we all know what that means in the context of “getting-lucky” before kids – vs.- the now typical use is in the context of “would you quit fooling around and let’s go” – referring to me spinning in circles in the middle of the kitchen trying to recall what I have forgotten to bring with us while Ken waits for me with the car running with the twins in it screaming—-oh yes, the baby, and her shoes, and bottle and food and diapers and snacks….and my shoes, wait – my shoes, where the heck are my shoes?
- “Getting Lucky” – basically my husband was getting laid. Period. Or maybe that I scored $10 on a $5 scratch off. – vs.- it generally means we got the kids in bed before 8 and no one had a mortal melt down or puked – meaning we can be in bed before 9 – SWEET! or better yet, we got a sitter for all three kids and we are eating big kid food instead of nuggets and fries – we never get that lucky.
- “Birth-Control” – well, with three under three, and married 4 years, quite obviously whatever we did wasn’t effective, and I’m not qualified to give advice other than – don’t use that method – vs. – what I will call the 5 layers of defense – 1 & 2. 3 year old twins 3. a 17 month old that sleeps with you 4. Abstinence (see #3) 5. Just to seal the deal – The Big V (if you don’t know what that is – you clearly don’t have more than 1 child). There will be NO and I mean NO more babies made in this house.
- “I Love You”. I’m madly and crazy “in” Love and committed to you – basically – I worship you and all of our “compatibility” – vs.- a deepness to the meaning of love that can’t be defined in you for your spouse before having children, a need for them, for their support, for their love, patience, understanding and unconditional love in return – and a need for you that can’t be learned or grown over time without looking at a life (or three) that you created together and knowing that together you are stronger, better, whole – together. You are an extension, part of one another – not just as parent’s – but as a couple – as a family.
This list could be infinitely longer, because life has inexplicably changed, as has the meaning of so much in it. But, with someone to lean on – a partner – a best friend – a companion – the playful words, phrases, things we did before kids haven’t gone away – they’ve just taken on a deeper, more meaningful – truer – form.
And the baby is crying… peace out.