A Case of the What Ifs

S Ralph

By: Shannon Ralph

I have found myself in recent weeks—amidst feeling like I am being pulled in every direction—wondering what my life would be like if I had never had children. Amidst an outbreak of strep throat and homework hell and hectic schedules, I have found myself wondering silently if it is really worth it. How would my life had been different if I didn’t have the three little creatures who occupy my space and my mind at all times? Quieter, certainly. But better? Happier? I am not sure. In an attempt to sort out these feelings that are not unusual, but moderately disturbing, I have been pondering the “what ifs” of life. I have been trying to recall what life was like before children. Let me tell you, it’s not easy to remember a life before children. What did I do with my time? What was I interested in? What was I good at? What would I have missed had I not had children? In an attempt to remember, I’ve compiled a list. A compendium of things that I never would have done had I not had children. It goes a little something like this.

Before I had children, I never…

Touched another person’s booger. Found rocks in my coat pockets. Suffered from insomnia. Collected human teeth in a box. Wished time would literally stand still. Woke up to the warm sensation of pee on my leg. Had another human being know what my heart sounds like from the inside. Questioned every decision I made. Had a topless (the kids, not me) dance party in my living room. Made —or had the desire to make— homemade crayons. Knew the correct pronunciation of Pachycephalosaurus. Knew that I carried a gene for cystic fibrosis. Shared my chewing gum. Caught vomit in my hands. Baked cupcakes with orange icing. Loved someone enough that the thought of losing them stole the breath from my body. Memorized all of the dialogue from every Pixar movie ever made. Took a rectal temperature. Felt a strangely compelling desire for religion and answers to the meaning of life. Feared leukemia. And asthma. And Down Syndrome. And autism. And meningitis. And scarlet fever. And Lyme disease. And weird allergic reactions to mosquito bites. Allowed glitter in my house. Bought life insurance. Ordered photo Christmas cards. Ate Go-gurt. Stuck my hand in a suspiciously bulging diaper to “check”. Went to bed at 8:00. Woke up at 5:00. Shared my bed with four people and a dog. Walked in on someone trying to put a snorkel on his penis. Bought multicolored sprinkles by the pound. Was struck speechless. Paid a babysitter $40 to go out to a $20 kid-free dinner. Came home early from a date. Scooped poop out of a bathtub. Had a fridge full of Amoxicillin. Found myself humming the theme song to Phineas and Ferb in inappropriate places. Stepped foot into the bacterial cesspool that is the Mcdonalds playland. Marveled at the utter coolness of a worm. And a frog. And a spider. Carried around little Dora underwear in my purse…just in case. Sat perfectly still for hours on end so as not to wake the tiny person asleep on my chest. Chose a quiet night in over a loud night out. Wet myself when I laughed. Drank coffee by the boatload. Understood how my mother could possible love me when she screeched at me until she was hoarse. Obsessed about what another person ate or did not eat. Used, or ever thought I would use, the television as a babysitter. Possessed firsthand knowledge that sleep deprivation is eerily similar to the after-effects of drinking two bottles of wine. Kissed an angel.

Yea…my life is certainly different today than it was pre-children. Life is hectic. Fast. Busy. Loud. Crowded. Messy. But you know what? It’s also better. Richer. Fuller. Lovelier. Livelier. Sillier. Happier.

What can I say? I am a mom. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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