I remember when I was eight months pregnant with AJ, heavy and weary and tired, I had been called upon to help out someone in the church who just happened to be also heavy and weary with child. Unfortunately, she was having complications and had called upon some members of our church to help her out. I was on partial bed rest, but I was able to help out for a short time while she endured a hospital stay due to complications from her pregnancy.
This person had a small child of two and a half years old. He was adorable, and I recall fondly watching him peek over the pews at church as a baby, winking and smiling at anyone whose eye he could catch. Unfortunately, while she was forced to stay in the hospital for a time, her husband was also forced to continue his busy work schedule. In order to accommodate, several families, myself included, had agreed to watch their son until he returned from his out-of-town trip.
The experience itself of watching the two-and-a-half-year old was exhausting to every fiber of my eight-month-pregnant being. Fortunately I had my mother to help me out at the time, but we were not used to having a toddler in our midst. When finally he fell asleep that first night, we fell deep into the couches, shocked at the sheer force and energy that had been spent on tending this tiny human. Naturally, I found myself doubting my ability to be a mother because there was no way I could endure. Only I was gently reminded, as I fretted, that when it’s your child it’s different. There is a reason babies start off so small and vulnerable, so as to allow your abilities and patience and coping mechanisms to grow as your child ages. “Very true,” I mused, though it would take a bit more convincing and a night of regular sleep without a snoring child in a pack-and-play two feet away to fully embrace that truth.
The day came when it was time for him to go stay with another family for a time. I will admit I was ready for a reprieve and anxious for a long nap, willing the clock to chime the magical number of 12:00. Noon came and I ushered him out the door to load him in his seat, sweating and cursing at the awkwardness that can only be understood when you try to put a full-size car seat into the back of a small-sized Corolla while maneuvering around a giant pregnant belly, and drove him to his next adventure. That adventure happened to be Jen’s house (remember Jen?).
I pulled up to curb, unloaded the child, all with the obligatory whispered cursing as I heaved the car seat out. The child, unfazed, busied himself with a toy left on the lawn. I hoisted the seat to their porch step with a loud loud thump and took hold of the blondie’s hand in mine.
I knocked on the door, expecting the door to be opened promptly. Sounds could be heard from within, but no one appeared at the door, so I knocked again. This time the door was opened quickly, and their stood Jen, still in her PJs, disheveled, a bit of peanut butter on the side of her mouth, with her youngest son (the partially naked one from this post) appeared, once again, partially clothed in just a Superman T-shirt and Spiderman underpants. In one hand he held a toy, and in the other he held a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich.
Jen smiled at me, questioningly. I smiled back and then looked down at the little boy whose hand I held in mine, as if to gesture, “Here, look what I’ve brought for you.” He was smiling at Jen’s son, likely oogling the sandwich more than the playmate himself. Jen just looked at me blankly.
“I’m just dropping him off to you now.”
I expected her to nod, but instead she shook her head, confused, obviously having forgotten about her earlier agreement to take on the busy two-and-a-half-year old for the night.
Nonplussed, I stood still with my mouth partially open, unable to say anything but hoping she might have a spark of a memory. I was so thoroughly exhausted that I didn’t think I could last another hour without an afternoon nap.
Just as I went to explain myself further, she realized, with a laugh, that she had just forgotten, and then ushered him into her home while I rattled off the particulars of his schedule, rituals and idiosyncrasies. Only she had had the benefit of having him over before for play dates with her son, so she was well aware of how busy he was. And she had children of her own that were the same age. She was the pro.
As I walked away and got back into my car, I thought about how usual it was that people would still be in PJs and allow their son to come to the door au naturel. It was all so foreign to me.
My how things change. My how ridiculous that I was actually disconcerted by the presence of partially naked kids standing in their front yard when I now have two of my own children who need constant reminding to put some clothes on because it’s winter for goodness sake. As far as Jen being in her PJs? I’d put her to shame since the chances of you coming to my door unannounced and NOT finding me in my comfy PJs is pretty high.
And should you need me to watch your child, it’s likely I’m available, though I doubt their rambunctiousness will shock me in any way these days.
What the commercial says is true. Having kids does change everything.