Mother Hen Gets Pecked to Death

I wrote this a couple of months ago, but it is even more true today!…

Something crazy happened to me this month.

I mean, it finally happened.

A month-and-a-half before my third babe is due to arrive in the world, I finally became really and truly comfortable with having children.

Of course, you know I’ve always liked them. For heaven’s sake, I spend 80% of each day gazing at them and laughing uncontrollably at their antics; the other 20% of the day is spent writing facebook statuses and blog posts about their preciousness. However, up until a month ago, I wouldn’t say that I was entirely comfortable with the whole load-em-up and tote-em-around situation. The responsibility of keeping them alive and teaching them manners was something that rested rather heavily on my shoulders…

And so why now? What changed from Monday to Tuesday that transformed me so? Who or what do I have to thank for this surprising turn of events? I have several theories:

Theory #1: Thanks to a generous and thoughtful couple in our church we are now driving a minivan. It is seriously awesome. Everyone knows that minivans aren’t considered to be the coolest wheels on the block, but I could care less; I love it like a sister. I love the sliding doors, I love the carpeted bucket passenger seat with room between me and the driver for my purse and diaper bag, I love that my kids can crawl into it and into their carseats without me hefting them up, I love that it has a holder in the ceiling for my humongous sunglasses…I love it. (It should be noted that before we were given this van a few months ago, we were all four of us and all of our groceries squeezing into a two-door Pontiac Sunfire; hooking a carseat up into the backseat was like folding yourself into a clown car at the circus, but there was sadly never any applause to follow your success).

Theory #2: Gideon turned 4 years old. And it’s like someone sprinkled magic dust on him when he blew out his birthday candles. He is a new kid, still unbelievably dramatic, still revisiting those red-zone fits on rare occasions, still precociously mouthy, but gone are the days when our plans revolved around whether or not he took a decent nap, when we would gingerly enter a restaurant with him in tow, when every waking moment was a bit of a toss-up, hinging on the mysteries of his ever-changing moods. He’s like…normal now. Well…normal for Gideon, for the firstborn son of the brilliant and scatter-brained (and mouthy) Mr. Gore and the eccentric and sentimental (and dramatic) Mrs. Gore.

Theory #3: We’re finally getting settled into our new home. During the final months of my pregnancy with Rebekah and the first six months of her life, we were planning and building a house. Chris was the senior contractor and I was the chief decorator. It was dizzying, to say the least. And then we moved in! You first have to understand that when Chris and I married, we immediately moved to seminary, into the tiniest apartment you can imagine. Over half of our wedding gifts and all of our lifetime’s worth of mementos and belongings went into a storage unit, never to be sifted through. Then when we moved back home and in with my parents, we continued to stuff things in that unit over the course of three years, until that fateful day when we unloaded it into our new white farmhouse. Holy. Moley. A year-and-a-half later, after two garage sales (and one in the works) and hours and hours spent going through boxes, I have nearly streamlined our house into something very comfortable and organized. Sort of.

Theory #4: All of the above.

Theory #5: None of the above.

Since I have had more time to think about these theories than you have, I’m going to make it easy for you and go ahead and tell you the answer. Are you excited? On the edge of your seat?…

The answer is #5, None of the above. (Not to be rude, but you probably should have guessed that on your own – I made it pretty obvious).

Now, that does not mean that the aforementioned theories did not contribute to my new motherly ease; they have done much to add to my comfort and peace of mind, to be sure. However, I know, deep in my heart, what really happened…

Mrs. Gore is dead.

I once saw a t-shirt in a catalogue that read “Raising children is like being pecked to death by a chicken.” I distinctly remember thinking to myself “What a dreadful and mean-spirited thing to say!” In fact, it didn’t make sense to me at all.

Until this month.

This July will mark the fifth year since God first planted a babe in my womb, and with each day that has passed since that monumental day, I have been pecked to death.

It all begins with that first pregnancy, the first trimester nausea that finds you gnawing on crackers like chewing gum, all day, every day, the emotional upheaval, the heartburn, the narrowed breathing passages, the throbbing feet and back, the fatigue, the starvation, the lack of caffeine, the frenzied nesting phase that keeps you awake at night waging war on dusty baseboards. Pecked to death.

Then you bring home the baby and learn what it really means to be a grown-up. Good-bye sleep. Good-bye spontaneity. Good-bye meticulous grooming. And I refuse to discuss “nursing” in so public a forum, but…wow. Pecked to death.

Then you lose your aspirations. You no longer entertain the notion of auditioning for American Idol or of sending off any of those book manuscripts. Rather, your life’s obsessions have become how to get a chicken coop in the backyard (for the kids) or finding the perfect Christmas gift (for the kids) or learning to conduct a taffy pull (for the kids). Pecked to death.

You lose your heart. I’ll never been able to say it better than Elizabeth Stone: “Making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.” Indeed. Pecked to death.

They’ve taken over the television. Their toys are in my beautiful Shabby Chic sunroom. Their laundry is a dinosaur-sized presence in my utility room. Their yogurt and string cheese and Capri-Suns are crowding out my refrigerator. Their melamine dishes clash with every patterned tablecloth I own. Their fingerprints are on every windowed surface of the first floor.  And yes, their ugly primary-colored toys have a constant home at the bottom of my claw-footed slipper bathtub.

I can’t go anywhere or enjoy any outing without missing them so bad it hurts.

Peck, peck, peck, PECK, peck, PeCk, peck, pecK, peck, peck, peck, PECK, PEck, peck, PECK!…

And then one day last month I looked down and realized that I had been cooking for about ten minutes with a child wrapped around each leg and had not even noticed they were there.

The next day I realized I had been driving down the highway with both of them crying the entire trip and hadn’t really heard a thing but the classical music playing on the radio.

With sudden awareness, I noticed that I had been going out among my fellow citizens without ever giving one thought to what they were thinking of my outfit or my hair or the type of car I was driving.

And, I never would have believed it, but I can even type a blog post with Mickey Mouse Clubhouse blaring in the background without completely losing my train of thought. (“Mouse-ke-ready, Mouse-ke-set, here we go!”)

And so that t-shirt I saw so long ago about being pecked to death by chickens…I get it now. And you know what? It isn’t as dreadful or mean-spirited as I thought it was; for that self-centered, self-absorbed, materialistic, overly confident, yet painfully self-conscious spirit that occupied my innards for all those years? She needed to get pecked to death.

Ding, dong, Mrs. Gore is dead! And it is about time. Because I’ve never felt so comfortable. In fact, I’d say in about 5 more years, Mother Hen will be a full-blown hippie…

Thank you, little chicks, for killing me. I’ve (kind of) enjoyed every second.

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