Long, long ago…when I was young, naive and didn’t even want children, I remember hearing a pregnant friend of mine, who was also my boss and I thought was soooo much older than me, (in reality she was only about 5 years older than me) saying that her children were not going to be “spaghettio’s children”. I loved that term. And I thought it summed up my holier than thou, save the earth, I’ll be greener than you attitude perfectly. She was so cool, a liberal in our conservative state, a vegetarian, and a feminist when it was not cool to be a feminist. She kept her maiden name and only wore a wedding band, no fancy diamond engagement ring. She had lived in New York, practiced yoga and despite being raised Christian had married a Jewish man and converted. As many of you know, I have always wanted to be Jewish- so she was basically living the life I so wanted to have. And if she is reading this now- she knows exactly who she is- if she doesn’t well than she isn’t as smart as I thought she was.
The thing is, I’m just not cut out for this life. I’m Catholic and though I want to be Jewish, my Catholic guilt will forever keep me entrenched in the cult…until, like my father before me, I decide its all a bunch of bullshit and just go with atheism. I love cheeseburgers, steak, chicken, fish…basically all types of delicious dead animals- so vegetarianism is out. One puzzling enigma I can never seem to get over is people who claim to be vegetarian, except they eat fish. WTF? Since when is fish not meat?? These are what I call, (I know I may be treading in dangerous territory here) “non-vegetarians” – they are stupid people (sorry to actual stupid people- I know you don’t want to be lumped in with the “non-vegetarians”) just trying to put on a cool front and are probably sneaking cheeseburgers on the side. I tried to be a vegetarian in high school- but that only lasted about a week before I discovered that the amount of vegetables I like are rather limited…oh and I was dying for a burger. I like diamonds and shiny things- so an engagement ring was a must. And although I consider myself a liberal democrat, the fact is I live in an extremely conservative state where I must walk a fine line so as not to alienate anyone who could be a potential business ally etc. In fact, my very best friend in the world is a Republican (poor thing), but she and I agree to disagree. If only more people could do that, our country and the world would be a much better place.
I’ve always had an endless fascination with the sixties and the whole counter culture movement. Secretly, I still want to live on a commune, with flowers in my hair, no bra, off the grid, raising chickens, carrying my baby in a sling, and sharing everything with my fellow weirdos. But, I hate birds, so chickens are out and I don’t know shit about farming or weaving shit on looms so my contribution to the commune would be limited. I like camping- which is about as close to living on a commune as I’ll ever get, but only in limited amounts of time, because eventually I have to get back to the 21st century- mostly because I’m a TV addict and I need to catch up on what’s going on with the Amish Mafia or Gator Boys or some other mindless crap.
In reality, I like taking showers. I like wearing a bra- my boobs are way too big to be just swinging around hitting people in the face. And honestly, without a bra holding them up, it gets all sweaty and uncomfortable with them just hanging against my chest. I like living in a house with air conditioning and heating. I like having money to buy things, things that I need or just because I want them. I like owning a car and taking vacations. When I eventually had children, I tried every sling known to man in my desperate attempt to be organic, green and cool- but that shit hurt my back. Not only did those things hurt my back, but they’re super complicated to figure out and I was always afraid I would suffocate the baby. Then I would be brought up on murder charges all because I was too stupid to operate a simple sling. So, even though all the experts were and still are saying the closeness that the sling brings for mother and child is of great benefit….my kids had to ride in the stroller. One more strike against me in my quest for non “spaghettio’s children”.
In college, I so wanted to change the world, but only if it meant I got to carry big signs and sit on the shoulders of hot hippie guys at cool protests where people chanted, passed joints, and sang folk songs on guitar. But, this was the 90’s, as a generation we didn’t have a cause to protest, we had never really experienced war, we were raised under the high rolling Reagan administration and were really more concerned with how big we could get our hair, the cute boys at the fraternity house and accumulating debt on credit cards they gave out like candy on campus to stupid 18 year olds. There were hippies on campus, probably many more at the liberal arts institution I attended than others at that time, but still, try as I might, I was not and never will be hippie material.
In college, I wanted nothing more than to traipse about campus with the hippies, playing hacky sack, smoking weed and following The Dead and Phish every summer. But, hacky sack…well, I’m not good at any sports so even this hippie dippie sport was way out of my league. I didn’t have any money to follow anyone around in the summer…I’m assuming all of these ragged looking hippies secretly had rich, stupid parents financing their escapades. The one hippie thing I did exceedingly well was the weed part. It really doesn’t take much to be good at that and I could still have my nice air conditioned apartment, clean clothes, a job and sort of be a normal part of society. Perhaps if I wasn’t wasting money on weed, I could’ve followed those bands around each summer, but then without weed, what fun would that have been?
Moving right along, I graduated, got married, got a job and followed the straight and narrow. Despite the fact that the first 7 or so years of our marriage was a haze of smoke and alcohol, we had fun and were for the most part responsible. Then we had the novel of idea of having children. I swear we must’ve been drunk when we made this decision. When I found out I was pregnant, I was all at once, happy, sad, eager, scared, basically every emotion all at the same time. At first I thought we would have a natural birth with whale songs playing in the background as the baby so gently slipped from my vagina with rainbows and doves. Then I started reading. Reading every book about pregnancy. Everything was dangerous. Natural child birth held dangers, assisted child birth held dangers, c-sections held dangers- its a wonder any child is born healthy. I also gorged myself on sub sandwiches and Diet Coke, that is until half way through my pregnancy I found out you aren’t supposed to eat deli meats because of listeria (which I didn’t know what that was and am still not sure). But, I couldn’t give up the Diet Coke- sorry kids. And so began motherly guilt. I hadn’t even had the child yet and I was already feeling guilty for my shortcomings. Every mother knows there is no guilt like a mother’s guilt, because you can never do enough, never be there enough, give them too much freedom, never give them enough freedom, never live up to all the pie in the sky ideals “so called” experts tell you you should be doing. I suspect most of these “so called” experts are not parents themselves- because its obvious they don’t know shit about kids.
So when my child was born via emergency c-section, the postpartum depression was overwhelming. Not only had I failed my vision of the perfect child birth complete with saving the placenta to bury under a tree in our back yard- but I also had gone completely insane. I was intent on using cloth diapers- until I changed my first diaper. So that plan went right out the window before we’d even left the hospital. Prior to giving birth, I envisioned myself buying all organic foods and transforming them into all organic baby food. But, A. organic food is fucking expensive, and B. I have a job and don’t have time to be mashing up carrots and shit. Thus, Gerber and I quickly fell in love.
Fast forward to today, and my whole fantasy about having non “spaghettio’s children” is a complete, utter and epic failure. I am not a cook. I don’t enjoy cooking and most of my cooking ends in disaster. I also work a full time job and volunteer for everything under the sun because I’m a fucking idiot. So cooking time is limited. Furthermore, my kids hate everything. One day I find something they like, a week later I fix it again and now they refuse to even sit at the same table with it or throw themselves on the floor as if I just threw hot acid on them. We rely heavily on frozen food and restaurants- and since they hate everything that basically means chicken nuggets, tater tots, and canned green beans. And again, even the green beans are a crap shoot. Some days they proclaim it to be their favorite thing in the whole world and the next they act as if I’ve put rat poison on their plates.
Hence, I am not a hippie, not a vegetarian, not Jewish, don’t play hacky sack, live lovingly on the grid, and eat highly processed foods that are full of all kinds of chemicals I’d rather not know about. I do recycle and am all for wind power, gay rights and wish I could afford solar panels on my house- so I guess that’s about as “out there” as I’m going to get. I’d love to compost- but that seems way too time consuming and the garbage disposal is so much more convenient. As much as my young, full of hope self would’ve like, my kids are, in fact, “spaghettio’s kids” but I prefer to call them “tater tots”.