I was talking with a woman last week who had just taken inventory of my rowdy trio of children and, inexplicably, asked me if I wanted any more.
“Children?” I choked. “Dear God, no!” I felt woozy at the thought.
She went on to tell me that her daughter also has three young children and does want another.
As often happens when I’m caught off-guard, my filter temporarily faltered. “Whyyyyyy?” I blurted. “Is she crazy?”
Later on, I regretted that. But at the time, I was truly baffled.
After all, we see things through our own colored lenses, and right now my lens is colored “bananas.”
My daughter has been sick but not terribly – right up until the end of the weekend, when her asthma started flaring and her ears burned hot. Just in time for Monday. Lovely.
Three weeks ago, the boys broke three shower curtain hooks playing basketball in the bathroom when they were supposed to be brushing their teeth. Have we replaced the hooks? No. We just turn a blind eye to the swooping curtain. We don’t use the shower in that bathroom, anyway, because for many months, leaks have been causing cracks in the ceiling below. Have we fixed the plumbing? No. We just try not to look up at the ceiling.
On an ottoman in my bedroom there is a pile of cleanish clothes as tall as my middle son. Sometimes I pull a top or some leggings out of the middle of it, like Jenga, and pray the whole thing doesn’t come toppling over.
I still have two weeks left of summer for which to find camps for the kids.
My eldest son got himself dressed to go to a playdate over the weekend; I was in the shower when my husband left to drop him off. When I came later in the afternoon to pick our son up, I realized he was wearing baseball knickers from two seasons ago – as normal clothing.
“Whyyyyy?” I asked him. He said: “Because these are the only pants that fit.” (Come to think of it, we have been seeing an awful lot of his ankles lately.)
It’s nearly tax day, and there’s a Valentine’s Day heart wreath on the front door.
Our Christmas lights are still up.
I dropped shimmery pink eye shadow on the once-beige carpet. Genius that I am, I rubbed it instead of blotting it. So now we have a pink-and-beige carpet. With sparkles. Fancy.
And despite my goal to make more home-cooked meals, last Sunday’s dinner was courtesy of a last-minute run to El Gran Pollo. Muchas gracias, quarter chicken dark.
In the middle of all of this, I just could not conceive of why any human being would want to add another little person to their day-to-day cray.
But then, two days later, I found a photo of my friend Rashod, a former Baltimore Sun music critic who died late last year after fighting cancer. In the photo, he is holding my daughter, my youngest. She’s in little pajamas, sucking on her chubby fingers with her hair all over her head. And Rashod – who could be a cranky grits-and-gravy kind of curmudgeon when he wanted to be – is in heaven, the way he only was when in the presence of babies and small children.
Staring at the photo, I felt such a tremendous sense of loss that Rashod will never know her as a young woman – and worse, that she will never know a world with him in it.
But I was also overcome remembering how much happiness babies gave my friend. And grateful that my own three babies added to his life, even in moments all too brief.
It made me think, in a hazy, new-baby-scented way, that maybe a fourth might not be such a bad thing. Who knows what tremendous joy a new baby might bring to our lives, or to someone else’s?
And then: “MOMMMMM! We don’t have any clean socks!”
I wake from the dream, step over the pink blotches on the carpet and head to the Leaning Tower of Laundry Jenga, thankful, for once, for the sound of complaints screamed through the house.
Reality, I owe you one.
Tanika Davis is a former Baltimore Sun reporter who works in communications at Constellation. She and her husband have twin 8-year-old sons, a 7-year-old daughter, a perpetually messy house and rapidly appearing gray hairs. She also needs a nap. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column appears monthly.