numerous people (at least two) have recently been telling us something very disturbing. one was a very reliable source. the other, i can’t remember, but i believe them. and it scares me. the rumor these people are propagating is that this stage greg and i are in, in our early marriage with young children specifically, is the easiest stage of our lives. i know, i couldn’t believe it either.
however, if there is one thing that has made itself apparent in recent years, and since ruth was born, it’s the general wisdom of the general consent. things that float around as the general sentiment of the population but that you never think are true, usually are true. go figure. things such as, “raising kids is expensive and the hardest thing you’ll ever do.” i used to scoff at this one. clearly, this was just a scheme to keep teen pregnancy in check and build up our parents generation to heights that we could never achieve. but you see, the bitch is in the details, all of the shit left out. if this general wisdom came with say, a list of everything that goes into parenting, and didn’t just hover like some misty cloud over your head, you might be more apt to believe it. such as the price of one box of diapers (and yes, i’m even talking about the walgreens brand!) and how fast a kid goes through said diapers and how many years they spend stubbornly sitting in and lugging around their own excrement in said overpriced diapers. if i knew those numbers, perhaps i would’ve believed a little more that having kids is expensive. prolly not, though. i would have thought that the numbers were inflated, exaggerated, and that i would have found some way around all that, like using cloth diapers or some shit. or that my kid would just be potty trained super early. ha!
where was i? oh, yeah, easiest time of our life. well, seeing as how i have lived and breathed the diaper cost, the hardness of parenting, and countless other general truths have smacked me in the face as of late, when greg broke this news, i stood there with my mouth agape, letting it sink in. i took it as gospel truth, as i had learned to take all advice or wisdom passed down by people with older kids. this source is the father of two twenty somethings and a teen something. he’s seen it all, birth up through adulthood, so he would know.
as i said, i stood there, letting it sink in. how can this be true, i was thinking to myself. how can this time be the easiest time in our lives when it feels like it’s got to be the hardest? “how…?” i started to ask greg, who knew exactly where i was going and responded, “he said the hardest is when they become teenagers.” bomb being dropped. nuclear holocaust in my brain (explosion sounds, then whooshing vacuum, then nothing). you see, i have been living my life as though the present is something to grin and bear and that brighter days are just up ahead. all i have to do is bite the bullet for a few years in their early lives and then it’s clear sailing for me. for greg and i. if this statement were true, then i have been living my life backwards.
i immediately went to another reliable source: my mother-in-law, and put the question to her as if it were the most ludicrous thing i had ever heard. “it’s true,” she said, “once they are teenagers, you are so busy, and then there is all the worry!” busy? what the hell am i right now? worry? i didn’t think it was possible for me to worry any more about ruth than i already do. clearly, i am like a tiny baby, naive and young, with new thin skin. then the future yawned at me, like it sometimes does, and i felt like i didn’t know it. perhaps i thought i did, i deluded myself into thinking i did, for a short while, but really, it is a total stranger to me. and myself. what will myself have to go through in the coming years ahead? what will myself look like, act like, parent like, when ruth and joel are older? what will our family look like?
so, here is me, drinking my tea this morning, ruth sleeping in the next room, knowing i am in for something, but not what and knowing too that i need to restructure the entire outlook i have on the present. something to be savored! really! i guess i believe it. all these parents of teenagers and adults are telling me so. and what do i know? it’s just like the joni mitchell song. i really don’t know life at all. there’s the rub (there’s always a rub, hamlet, you old bastard). you can’t trust your perceptions of what your life is. it is really a blending of your perception, the general wisdom, and then the specific wisdom of a chosen few that you need. because, we all know, looking back at different times, reality is never what we thought. looking back from a different standpoint, we can see more clearly, with greater objectivity, when before, we were trekking through the forest, not seeing it for the trees, as they say. if we are lucky enough, somebody will snap their fingers and wake us up a bit, help us to see the bigger picture.