So after six years, four kids, and way too many tears over noses turned down at bottles and eyes rolled at people whose babies slept through the night at three months, it finally happened.
Bridget took the bottle. She slept all night long.
Go ahead. Roll your eyes at me. I would too.
Aaaaaaand I got my first judgy comment about my parenting choices.
Now we've been struggling around here with my six-year-old who is ready for more responsibility but doesn't quite get that she can actually do a lot on her own now. Like get her own drinks. Or make her own sandwiches.
Or wipe her own butt without using half a roll of toilet paper and clogging the toilet every single time.
So while we were on the beach a few days ago, she begged us for a floating mat, which cost about $6 to rent for all of maybe 30 minutes that she would use it. We decided that if she wanted it, she would need to walk the 25 yards to the rental hut and get it herself.
It seemed fair enough.
And so, with several reminders not to lose our key card, we sent her away to get it.
And wouldn't you know, a few minutes later, she came back, a large mat in hand. And a receipt.
But no key card.
We chastised her a bit and made her go back to look for it, and then sit on our lounger so that we could talk to her. As this all was happening, a woman told my husband that someone had picked it up and handed it to a waiter.
When I came back to search for the card, my husband politely asked the woman who had told him this just to clarify or at least get an idea of what the waiter looked like.
She turned to us and said, "Like I told you - someone handed it to a waiter. But maybe you shouldn't have been so stupid to make your daughter go get that heavy mat by herself."
We both looked at each other in complete shock. Speechless. Then imagining all the things we'd love to be able to say or do had it been under different circumstances.
I don't regret my decision to send her to get her own mat (which, by the way, was not heavy). Nor for making her sit out for a few minutes to understand the consequences.
With independence comes responsibility. And they're two of the greatest gifts I can give my children.
It was a learning experience for both of us, but boy do I wish I had lost my drink. Right on that woman's head.
Huz: "Wait, seriously, you've got to say that?" Slaps hand on forehead.
Me: "Well what exactly do you want me to call it?" pause. "Wait. Don't answer that."
Drew: "Vagina! Vagina! Hahahaha!"
Me: "...and then when she finds the right guy..."
Huz:Interjects "... which will be when you're at least 30..." Both hands on head.
Drew: "30 VAGIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINAS. HAHAHAHAHA!"
Me: "...they have something called sex..."
Husband:Interjects again "...which you won't have to worry about at the convent..."Head now on table.
Drew: "Sex? Sex! Vagina! Vagina sex! HAHAHA!"
Given that she's only six with an overly attentive audience of toddlers, I gave her just the basics - nothing more, nothing less - and then asked her for questions, like I always do when we have these types of serious "this is why they pay me the big bucks" conversations.
"So, um, the girl's parts are inside and the boy's parts are outside, like, those things hanging down?"
"Testicles?!" I exclaimed, somewhat excitedly.
My husband nearly jumped out of his seat.
I gave him the "What? You want me to call them 'hairy balls'" look.
"Oh. Yes. Them," she replied.
She sat quietly for a moment, shoved a bite of food in her mouth, and then moved onto "like, um, the Tinkerbell and the Great Fairy Rescue is like sooo awesome!"
And that was that.
Then just a few days ago, she made some reference to us having more kids, to which I responded that we wouldn't be having any more kids.
"Why?!" she gasped.
See, apparently when you have a kid every two years, it was like someone just told her Christmas was canceled.
"Because we're very [completely fucking overwhelmed] happy with four!" I replied.
"Well, you still have THE SEX!" she said.
As if we were trying to get away with something.
Then I remembered that we completely forgot to discuss something.
That the mommy will only have the sex with the daddy again after he has THE VASECTOMY.
I like to think that they'll always be down the hall from me, tucked not-so-tightly into their beds, those damn nighttime monsters single-handedly raising our electric bill a solid $100 every month.
It's our job as good, responsible parents to raise them so that they get the hell out and come home every now and then with several gigantic bags of dirty laundry and an empty stomach - just long enough for me to fold their socks, stuff them with food, and send them on their merry way, feeling lucky if they actually sit down at the table long enough to suck down their meal before gallavanting off with friends.
We're supposed to arm them with survival skills so that the big bad bright world doesn't chew them up and spit them out.
And we will. Parent's oath.
But not without a gigantic lump in our throat. That knowledge that we refuse to swallow - the window into the future where our chairs are no longer occupied by booster seats and sauce stains, the toys have long been donated or passed along, and their rooms -- the bright pink-walled masterpiece that she begged and pleaded for -- now changed to a dull tan office.
The scraps of paper have long been picked up, the crayon artwork scrubbed off our walls, and the once treasured macaroni necklaces crumbled and tossed.
We all know it's coming.
We laugh about being anxious for them to haul their butts off to college. We joke about when they'll visit for holidays and we'll embarrass them in front of their significant others with their naked baby pictures.
We smile at the thought of bouncing their own kids on our knees.
And we secretly cry at the thought of having to beg, borrow, and beg some more just to get them all in one place. Together.
They will leave - maybe one by one or two at a time - and it will never be like it is right now.
Go look. Take a snapshot in your mind. File it away. Carefully.
I watch them, all my children all together, sometimes staring at the big bright screen from the couch shoving cookies not so squarely into their mouths, other times fighting and screaming over the deflated balloon and flattened box while the big, brand new, battery operated piece of crap toy sits alone in the corner.
I dance recklessly with them as the radio blasts inappropriate club music through our basement. I sit with them, all crammed in a bathtub, while they wash my feet and make me bubble tea and soup.
And I try to soak in every single second of them being together.
All my children. All in one place.
Because I know.
I know it so hard that I can't even say it out loud.