Just when I thought I would have to voluntarily commit myself for having to clean up yet another poop off the kitchen floor (don't ask) and listen to my daughter sing that contagious "Taxi Taxi" song from Noggin for the 600th time at the top of her lungs, I realized that they're not training us to be secret agents. I mean who really wants to be a secret agent these days?
But sorority pledge? I'm all about that shit.
Seriously though, there's really no other way to explain the first few years of parenthood other than a combination of purgatory, CIA training, and pledge week.
Now I was never a sorority girl in college, mainly because we had no sororities, just geeky clubs and a bunch of snotty jocks. But I've seen a pledge week or seven in my day, and I admit to being one of the weirdos wearing a beret and knee socks who would stare at the girls running around in their bright pink track suits and pig tails trying to find the appeal of it all.
And now, here I am, running around in my gaucho pants and ponytail like a rest of the moms on this planet with no "cool girl" status or toga parties at the end of the tunnel, still trying to find the appeal of it all and wondering if this is just part of some demented sorority pledging ritual.
I mean, there are way too many husbands out there that think life is a fraternity, so maybe this is not that far off.
Sure, we're not being forced to listen to some snooty girls named "Morgan" and "Britt" scream obsenities at us. Try enduring a three-year-old temper tantrum courtesy of "QuinLAN" (as she says it) in the middle of a Target checkout aisle or a teething, hungry, gassy baby at 3am for a days on end.
I actually think that's considered hazing.
And while there are no wooden paddles to threaten us, there are brooms, swiffers, and spatulas that when wielded by an extremely quick-handed 18-month-old will make you beg for that paddle.
And fine. I know scrubbing a toilet with a toothbrush reallllly sucks, even if there is a banded sisterhood awaiting at the end of a very long week. But shit. I've cleaned up vomit, piss, and poop with my own bare hands, let alone a toothbrush, and there's no one waving a cool pin or necklace or whatever the hell they get in front of my face.
So when your toddler refuses to speak in anything but "uhs" for a solid two months and your preschooler insists on screaming at the top of her lungs when the wind decides to blow in a different direction (seriously wind, what the fuck is your problem?), just think.
Maybe this is your pledge week.
And while the parties may not be as fun or as frequent, the sisterhood is just a click away.
With my daughter, time stood painstakingly still, the memories as freeze frames in my head. Stacks of pictures piled up on my computer, notes about her every word scribbled in a baby book, and moments that are only hers and mine shared together.
She is the one who made me a mother.
We spent long days and way too many nights staring at each other, fixated on each other's every move, expression, and emotion. I could point out every new freckle and every old bruise. And her looks spoke to me in complete sentences.
I could read her cries like a book. Not surprisingly, she could read mine.
With my second born, I lost track of his freckles long ago. There's no baby book to speak of, no special box piled high with birthday cards, and only a few pictures of him alone.
Our moments alone together are spent before his bedtime, where I force myself to listen and focus. I try to stop and stare, to soak in his everything before it's lost in the shuffle of another being. It doesn't mean I love him any less, or that I don't know who he is - his sweet devious smile, bright rosy cheeks, and deeply loving soul.
Even though it's all he knows - everything shared, from the toys in the playroom to his mother's tired arms, there's still a part of me that wishes I had more to give. Just him. The boy. Our only son.
But unlike those long days alone with my daughter, my eyes are extra tired, my patience is stretched thin, and on some days, I just can't keep up.
And I can't help but feel he's owed a better lens.