Before I had Annika, I loved cheese. On any given day, I salivated at the thought of a soft, rich block of cheddar. Cheese crackers, chips and queso, forget BLTs, I made CLTs, cheese sandwiches, with tomato and lettuce, mozzarella melted over spaghetti, cheese quesadillas, burritos with extra cheese, chunks of cheese in my salads, chunks of cheese as a side dish with eggs over easy, enchiladas, lasagna, nachos, cheesy casseroles, apples and cheese or grapes and cheese, as a snack, were all part of my routine pre-baby diet.
Once, when Toyin and I were still a couple, he told me that if he ever considered buying me a box of delectable bon bons, he would exchange it for a large sampler platter of cheeses from around the world.
I never thought I would be able to live without cheese. The thought of a diet that did not contain soft, melting, savory goodness left me feeling depressed.
I loved cheese.
Now? Eh, I can take it or leave it. It’s nice. It’s good. Sometimes, I even sort of wish that I still loved it as much as I used to. But for the most part, the love affair has melted into a fond and ever-so-slight wistfulness that I will never again experience the rich salivation for my beloved cheddars, monterrey jacks and mozzarellas, and yes, even Velveetas, of the world. I still like it. But I’m starting to realize that I could live without it.
If you’ve read my blog for very long, you’ve already figured out that I swear a lot. When I was pregnant, I was driving along one day listening to NPR. They story was about the effects of swearing around children. My phone rang. It was Toyin, calling to tell me that I needed to listen and he was going to send me a link so that I could hear it. Before he was done talking, my best friend beeped in on the other line. Can you guess why she was calling? It just so happened she was listening to NPR at the same time.
I swore a lot. Their concerns were not irrational. Actually, they were quite accurate.
Before I gave birth I just figured that when I had a child, I would go right along being the same foul-mouthed, cheese-loving person I’ve always been. I thought I would be one of those cool moms who tells her kids that it’s okay to swear as long as they don’t do it around certain people and in certain settings.
What I didn’t count on was that it would start before she’s old enough to understand that it’s inappropriate sometimes.
Yes, I am duly horrified when I hear my 2-year-old drop something and go, “Fuck!”
Well, at least she’s using it in the proper context.
I tried to give it up.
I exchanged shit, for poop. I rarely say hell or damn anymore. But the F-bomb has been the hardest one for me.
It’s my favorite. I know mothers aren’t supposed to admit to favoritism, but I am no saint. I like the F-bomb. I particularly like saying motherfucker. But that one’s easy to switch out for mofo. Sure, people will still know what Annika is saying if she says it, but it doesn’t sound nearly as bad as the full-blown version.
I tried switching fuck for frack, based on BSG, the best show ever made. But really, when a 1 or 2-year-old says frack, it still sounds like fuck. So, I’m pretty much screwed on that one. I just hope she’s reasonable and agrees not to get me into trouble by using it at school and around her grandparents when she is old enough to understand the ramifications and the harsh judgments that will rain down on her mother.
My point is, motherhood changes things that we never expected it to.
A little over two years ago, after I went through 19 1/2 hours of torturous and hallucination-inducing labor that ended with a weak request for an epidural, three point five hours of pushing and me begging them to rip my daughter out of my body with forceps (no, didn’t happen, I pushed her out), I thought that had been my induction into the world of motherhood.
Ha. Ha. Ha.
That was the easy part.
Pregnancy and labor, however strengthening, philosophical and intense they may have been, were not even close to the mind-bending changes that would come along with being a mother.
The stuff that people always say will change, is all true. You can’t go on a trip at the drop of the hat. You can’t make love in the rain on a sandy beach when you are carting around a toddler with you. You’re stomach gets flabby. You have to eat healthy and keep vitamins stocked at all times.
But there’s stuff that you don’t expect.
Like, picking your friends based on how old their children are. Getting into nitpicky fights in online forums over which parenting methodology is best. Deciding on where you will live based on school districts. Realizing that your breasts really are that saggy, and they are not going to go back to the way they were before despite all the denial and reassurances you gave yourself during your pregnancy that they would. Waking up one morning and realizing that you haven’t exercised in six months and you don’t really care and I’ll just have another beer once the kid is in bed instead of doing those 50 sit ups you swore you would do.
The world of mothering is not to be entered in to lightly. Motherhood changes you. Fuck. Well, maybe not completely.