No One Tells You These Things
"But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.” Ecclesiastes 3:12
Recently, Jane took the liberty of adding items to my bedside table. It was really only a matter of time until she took some ownership of the space, as she's always finding reasons to be in it. First thing in the morning she wants to snuggle and watch cartoons. After dinner she stacks a tower of books on the floor and wants me to read to her in bed.
I always have a stash of books, a glass of water, my glasses, TUMS and hand cream on the bedside table. She's fascinated by these things. One night after a reading session, she deposited her Dr. Seuss book on top of the table, next to my books, and smiled shyly.
"I put there," she said.
A few days later she left me a t-shirt she'd used to blow her nose. This week I noticed her Tinkerbell cell phone, a purple sock, and a comic book that came with her Chick-fil-A dinner called Cowborg (this entire piece of literature confuses her and she just calls it "angry cow").
A few nights later I turned out the lights and settled in. I fell asleep and rolled over. Jane, like the thoughtful two year old terrorist that she is, had carefully deposited her Tinkerbell phone under the covers. Verily I say unto thee ladies
... you have never known terror until you roll onto a toy in your sleep and it switches on, and through the dark you hear these words:
"Iridescent! You're looking sparkly tonight!"
I'd previously finished watching an episode of Hannibal before bed, and Matt was working late. My sleep deprived brain mixed all these components into a scary stew cocktail before I was even conscious enough to analyze what was happening to me. I sat straight up in the dark, lunging away from the pale yellow light of that little demonic piece of plastic.
The Tinkerbell cell phone might be this generation’s Chucky doll.
Here's the part of the story where I'm a very bad mother. After she left for daycare the next day, I submerged the phone in water. I did not ever want to hear that thing bleat another chipper, horrifying fairy phrase.
"You are glowing with sunshine today!"
"My, I'm impressed by your fairy wisdom!"
I watched the bubbles gurgle to the surface and smiled smugly, knowing the little electric workings of its guts were smoldering into oblivion. Then I took it out, dried it off, and deposited it back onto my side table. There would be no more midnight Tinkerbell horror in my house.
The plan was very clear in my mind.
Jane would come home, pushing the previously chatty buttons on her Tinkerbell cell phone, "It's bwoken!"
I would hug her, seeking to assuage my guilt, "Aw. That's ok. Let's go buy you a new cell phone."
And then we’d skip off into the sunset for a mommy-daughter Target date.
I went into my closet to put on shoes. I hummed a little tune. I felt no guilt. That's when a horrible, garbled voice from the bedroom started talking to me.
"The moon above gives us good cheer!"
It sounded as if Tinkerbell was a lifelong smoker, and had had a baby with Pee-wee Herman, and then someone recorded the baby’s voice, and then slowed it down to the slowest speed possible.
"Theeee fairyyyyy duuuuust is readddddy for harrrrrvest..."
I know when I've been beaten, and that hellish piece of Chinese plastic beat me. I ran down the stairs, out the door, into the garage, and off to the safety of work.
They should really tell you about things like this when you take your childbirth classes. No one tells you that one day you'll try to snuff out Tinkerbell. And then plan to lie to your kid about it. And then Tinkerbell will resurrect herself from the dead and taunt you with her zombie vocal chords.
No one tells you these things.
No one tells you that pregnancy may be filled with urine leakage and passed gas during work meetings.
No one tells you that after you have a baby, and the doctor says “No sex for six weeks” you’re going to laugh in his face and say, “I’m sorry, I couldn’t hear you because I was distracted by my 50,000 stitches. Did you say 16 weeks?”
No one tells you your toddler’s toys will be scarier than any horror movie.
No one tells you that yes, you might get depressed.
And yes, you might need medication.
No one tells you that your pregnancy hormone avalanche might trigger a major health issue like migraine related vertigo.
No one tells you that when your baby girl voluntarily kisses you on the face, picks her nose, reaches out a finger and says, “Here mommy, my booger” your heart will explode with joy.
You will hug her.
You will take that booger.
You will realize whatever path you followed to arrive at that spot, the spot that allows you to be kissed and handed a booger, was worth it. Even if it was a scary path, like mine, it was worth it.
No one tells you.
No one tells you that if these things happen, you will live. You will survive. You will learn. You will drown a Tinkerbell phone in the sink, listen to it resurrect itself, and you will say, “Not so fast smart mouth, let’s see how you fair in the freezer.”
You will survive, because you are a woman. And you are resilient.
Women have survived unthinkable trials for the last 4.5 billion years, or 6,000 years, depending on which side of the evolution fence you stand on. But whether it’s 6,000, or 4.5 billion, that’s a long time when you consider women’s history.
Women have been subjugated, assaulted, traded like cattle, dismissed, and overlooked. They have been told to be silent, to cover up, and sit down. They have been told to wipe their eyes, stop crying, and get over it after they give birth and their minds fall apart.
I hear you.
“Uh-oh Liz … I’m not a feminist. Your soap box is freaking me out.”
I don’t think this is a feminist issue. This is a human issue. Whether you believe that women should stay at home and raise children or whether you believe that they should be breaking glass ceilings, whether you’ve experienced postpartum depression or fertility issues, we can all agree that women are a tough bunch. We have survived thousands of years of hard, hard times.
And yet, we’re still here.
Raising our kids.
Going to dinner.
Drowning Tinkerbell phones in the sink.
We are survivors.
We crawl over the mountains in front of us, peer over to the other side and realize better things are ahead.
And while no one could have prophesied to me my future, my postpartum depression, my “you shouldn’t have any more children” fate, I would not change a thing. I’m thankful to understand depression and generalized anxiety disorder. I’m thankful to have a therapist I can depend on. I’m thankful the cheese slid off my cracker. I’m thankful for my paradigm shift.
But mostly I’m thankful because it all led to God’s good advice.
That’s what we do, we women.
We don’t just survive.
We get up.
We become exactly who God meant for us to be.