Should I Have Had One More? No. And That Baby Hates You
byAlicia Ybarbo, Mary Ann Zoellner and Erin CluneApr 26, 2016
Photograph by Twenty20
The following is an excerpt from " Sh*tty Mom For All Seasons : Half-@ssing it all year long," byAlicia Ybarbo and Mary Ann Zoellner with Erin Clune, published earlier this month by Abrams Books.
As kids get bigger, summer (for moms) almost becomes fun
again. Just a few years ago, you couldn't even have imagined yourself relaxing on a beach while the kids buried each other
alive. You'd spend your whole day at the pool "watching them"
jump off the diving board. You still have to contend with the
standard summer crap salad of sunscreen, camp forms, athletic
meets, and stinky backpacks full of wet towels, which kids somehow never get old enough to hang up. But now that they're old
enough to swim, they can get their friends to watch their dumb
fake tricks. And if they ask you to play with them, you can actually just say no. I only played when you were little so you'd have
good self-esteem, sweetie. Now go use it to play by yourself. Mommy's reading an article about breast implants.
What could possibly blacken this bright spot in your parenting journey? A baby, of course. A cute chubby baby who sits
down next to you at the pool while you're happily reading alone.
He has fat rolls everywhere. He's gumming his mom's shoulder
and tasting his little clenched fist. He's smiling at you. He's got
dimples. But the worst part by far is his outfit: He's wearing
nothing but a swim diaper and a tiny T-shirt that says FUTURE
LADIES' MAN. Yes, you think. That's so true.
Cue the meaning of life spiral. Why aren't my kids that bald?
Why don't they do cute tricks anymore, like lifting up their
arms when I say "SO BIG" in a dopey Elmo voice? Why didn't
I enjoy those precious years of soft skin and toothy smiles? Oh
my God . . . should I have had one more?! And just like that, your sweet summer day turns into a pity party. You need to put an end
to this now, sister, while you/your spouse still has time to enjoy
Even if you don't remember, she does. She still has PTSD from
when the shoulders came out. She felt really bad for that nurse
who had to clean up the spontaneous pool of pee that happened
when you stood up to open the door. Look, women don't like to
be treated like we're enslaved to our female organs. We know that
if we get pissed off at work—even if we're a tenured doctor who's
the head of the department and who oversees groundbreaking
medical research—men will assume we're "just premenstrual."
Like they know what "just" in that sentence even means. But
we do have hormones. And babies can activate them remotely.
Woman, get control of your ovaries! Your prefrontal cortex is
being ambushed by your pituitary glands, and your vagina—
having only just clawed her way back to 100 percent Kegel
functionality—is not going to like it.
If that tour through Jurassic Park didn't do the trick, kick the conversation upstairs. Husbands are mostly chill, but there are a few things they really don't like.
Rent a Baby
If community swimming pools knew what was good for humanity,
they would offer Rent-a-Baby programs. These programs would
help everyone by allowing new moms to hand their blubbery
babies to older moms for short, preapproved slots of time. While
the new moms took a dip, grabbed a beer, or caught some badly
needed shut-eye on a deck chair, the older moms could sit with
the spitty blobs of cuteness and get a legal dose of baby love.
The real genius of this program, though, would be the reverse
handoff, when the older mom was done. See, older mom, you did enjoy those baby years of soft skin and toothy smiling. You
don't fully remember it because the baby years are a long slog
through eight-minute intervals of exactly five behaviors: happy,
fussy, eating, sleeping, and pooping. So after you bounced your soft chubby baby on your lap for fifteen minutes, it was time
for him to poop. Probably on your lap. Then you had to cover
him in a towel, get up with a heavy diaper bag, and rush him
to the swimming pool changing table. Three seconds after you
washed your hands—one at a time while you switched him onto
the other hip—your ladies' man started screaming from hunger.
With Rent-a-Baby, you never have to wonder why you stopped
after fifteen minutes, or at one kid.
Go Out to Dinner With a New Mom
If your local pool doesn't rent babies, take matters into your own
hands. Nothing clarifies the battle between the brain/vagina and
the ovaries like going out in public with children and trying to
get food into your own body. Go ahead, older mom, sit down.
Give each of your older kids a mobile device and a kid's menu to
read, on their own. It will definitely irritate you when they ask if
the grilled cheese is "the normal kind," when they fight over the
seating arrangement because one of them wants to be next to you
and the other one doesn't want sun on her scalp, and when your
son interrupts your conversation to ask where the bathroom is
located. But when that happens, you'll give him a warning look
and remind him to find the bathroom with his eyes and legs
instead of with his mouth. And even as this mini-drama unfolds,
you will still be able to move a fork from the plate to your mouth
with 100 percent success. Your new-mom friend? She's hovering
at just under 18 percent. The spit-meister is screeching in his high
chair like a caged pterodactyl, and while she offers him treats in
a frantic and futile effort to assuage his irrational anger, the ice
cubes are melting into her only cocktail. This woman is a shell of
her former self. More important, she's a shell of your current self.
Even if those moms aren't lying, they're definitely all suckers. Babies love you, mostly because they need you. But eventually, they don't.
Talk to Your Husband About It
If that tour through Jurassic Park didn't do the trick, kick the
conversation upstairs. Husbands are mostly chill, but there are a few things they really don't like. They don't like to be micromanaged. They don't like it when they forget stuff they needed
to bring somewhere, because you didn't want to micromanage.
They don't like to open their briefcase at work to find the dirty
socks you put in there because you were sick of micromanaging
their messy pile of shit. But if there is one thing that a husband
doesn't like—most of all—it's when his wife wonders out loud if
his vasectomy was a "mistake." Yes, it was a simple outpatient
procedure. The actual pain he experienced was roughly equal
to a premenstrual headache. It was "just" surgery on his penis.
But he did (finally) get it done because it was his turn to handle
the birth control. And also, you promised him more sex. It's
over, woman. Turn the football game back on. The vas deferens
Ask the People Who Had More Kids
Whenever you talk to moms who have one more kid than you,
they always say the same thing: I couldn't even imagine life
without her. These people are sweet. But they are lying. Here's the
thing, Octomom. Not liking to imagine life without your kids—
because that is the mom equivalent of killing them—doesn't
mean you can't. And in a practical sense, you already do. Every
time you drag them to an older sibling's gymnastic meet and
make them play underneath the bleachers, you are effectively
imagining life without them. Every time you let her watch The
Hunger Games with her older sibs—even though they're twelve,
and she's four; and when they were four, you sat with them and
watched Sesame Street—you are pretending she doesn't exist.
Nobody blames you. Once the ratio of kids to parents tips over
one to one, parenting becomes a game of fucking whack-a-mole.
Younger sibs get whacked the most. So talk to these moms of
multiples. Look into their lying eyes. Thank them for populating
the world with resilient people. Then wave to your kids in the
pool and return to your magazine.
Even if those moms aren't lying, they're definitely all suckers.
Babies love you, mostly because they need you. But eventually, they don't. This summer, your pre-tween daughter went to
sleepaway camp for the first time. You were sure it was too early.
You figured she'd get scared, freak out, and send out a distress
call. So you paid big bucks for a special mail system called Love
Notes that allowed the camp to deliver your notes immediately,
and then she never wrote back. She was having so much fun. She
was soooooo busy. Don't bother letting her know how busy you were when you sat up all night pasting sonogram pictures into
her baby book instead of sleeping. Or how busy you were the
night the sitter called the theater and interrupted your favorite
musical—the one with the cursing hand puppets—to say that
the baby had thrown herself headfirst out of the crib. Save yourself the future heartache. Babies are cute and everything. But
in just a few years, they become cruel ingrates who forget you
Alicia Ybarbo and Mary Ann Zoellner are Emmy Award–winning producers at NBC's Today show. They are the coauthors of Sh*tty Mom: The Parenting Guide for the Rest of Us and Today's Moms: Essentials for Surviving Baby's First Year.Erin Clune is a journalist and humorist whose blogs include Life After NY, The Mischievous Mixologist, and her advice column, So What? Who Cares? Her work has been featured on NPR, The Rumpus, Thought Catalog, and Medium.