Monday, September 03, 2007

My life as a mutant.

Our beach vacation in Rehoboth was a great trip, really. The soft breezes, the warm air, the beautiful weather and gorgeous surroundings, getting outside and letting the kids really enjoy themselves: it was all worth it. It was just my second head, third eye and four extra arms getting in the way. Don't worry, they're all invisible, and as soon as my kids are grown enough for me not to need them, I'm sure I'll abandon them. I know I started to grow them the day I brought Rosie home from the hospital (listening for crying during the night and trying not to roll when co-sleeping) and as she and Dash have become increasingly mobile, my eye in the back of the head and extra arms have helped keep them out of trouble. I was even complimented by strangers in a restaurant for having well-behaved chlidren!

Even so, I work full-time and am not used to having my kids in my care all day for several days consecutively. My extra appendages became overworked. Out with two young kids in tow in an unfamiliar place, my guard rarely came down. While I slept, my invisible antennae tuned in to the kids' room, listening for the "whump" when one of them might fall out of their strange bed. I was constantly on the watch for a meltdown, trying to anticipate triggers and calming measures. Most of the time I stayed on high alert, repeating inane phrases in sing-song voice like, "what's that, sweetheart?" and "sure cutie, that sounds fine," and "wow, baby, look at you!" I was trying so, so, very hard to keep them from screaming and snapping at them myself.

One of the few things that helps a mutated human more than anything is being around other mutants. My other parent-friends! They all have two or three heads, octopus-like collections of arms, and antennae that would make a milliner envious! When we're together, the collective brain power in action is a panacea like no other. I can relax as our children play with each other and all the parents, together, can keep watch over the group with our fortified extrasensory-child-field. We each reach a limb out to grab an errant child, yell to keep another in line; no worries about whose child is grabbed or compensation for our care. We relax, laugh, have a few drinks and maybe even indulge our adult-selves for a while. Thank you, my dear friends!

I know this is a fleeting time. My friends without children are blissfully unaware of how much of a change I've been through; even people with older children easily forget what it was like. They say things like, "Oh god, that was so HARD! I don't know how I got through it!" at the same time, incredibly grateful that they only have one head now and no additional arms. An older relative offered to watch Rosie once, saying, "How hard could it be? Babies only eat and sleep." I knew all her mutant-ness was long-forgotten.

At the same time I am reveling in my superpowers, I find that they are impediments in other ways. Shopping? Forget it. Alienating certain friends and family? Oh, yeah. Nevertheless, these are hard-won mutations. I love my children and am grateful that I have developed the necessary power and energy to care for them. I'm exhausted and exhiliarated. I'm adored (kiss!)and reviled (swat!). One day, I'll hang up my supersuit and it will be a fuzzy memory along with the sweet, chubby, recklessness of the toddlers that forced me to don it. For now, my extra head, octopus arms and other appendages are with me to retrieve the toddler, leaping off the table, or the sprinting preschooler, half-a-block away. I'm saving the world, one child at a time.


  1. Yes, totally! Sue and I were talking about that at the beach, too. You can let your guard down a little because of the fortified extrasensory-child-field. Well said!

  2. I'm convinced that those parental autonomic nerve functions responsible for dealing with exploding pants and 3am mania become severly damaged in old age. These functions are erased and overwritten by memories of birthday parties and xmases and first communions, where everything's covered in gold dust and shot through a sepia lense. Sort of the brain's way of dealing with trauma; like when people suppress molestation memories and replace them with alien abduction ones.

    So looking forward to the self-inflicted lobotomy that is my dotage.

  3. AJS, I totally laughed out loud at this. Good stuff!


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