The Moment I Knew It Was Time For A Vasectomy
I recently sat in my car and watched a mother with two older children walk into a restaurant. The entire transaction is seamless, calm and organized. I shake my head, because try as I might, I can't remember the last time I got myself and my children out of the car and into a store or restaurant without looking like a homeless group of mismatched bandits who have just survived a hurricane of massive proportions. I'm constantly disheveled, hot, stressed and on the verge of a meltdown. The kids fight over whose hand to hold, or refuse to hold hands altogether. At least one of them is crying because their shoes, arms, heads, fill-in-the-blank hurts.
A recent day at the beach is the perfect example of my less-than-perfect brood. We arrive at the beach and I proceed to unload multiple coolers, towels, buckets and beach bags, and glance down briefly at my version of a cover-up: a stained tank top thanks to my 20-month-old son's morning bottle. Quickly, I turn my tank top inside out while feeling irritated.
I can't help but wonder: Am I just older and more tired this time around? I don't remember feeling short-tempered when my older sons, now 6 and 4, were that young. I'm annoyed by the water diapers I have to bring, and mentally chastise myself for not having the energy to potty train my toddler yet.
As with any beach day, I spend the entire time negotiating with my kids. I beg them to put sunscreen on, and then beg them to get out of the water for lunch. I finally call it a day when, for a split second, I can't find my youngest son and I begin to imagine the worst-case scenario. My blood pressure rises and my heart races. I make a mental note for no more kids, and I finally agree to give in to my husband's wish to schedule a vasectomy.
That evening, as I get the kids' bath ready and heat up my son's milk, I realize that I'm exhausted. I sit on the couch and mentally calculate how many more years of "tough" behavior lie have ahead of me.
I always knew I wanted a big family. I told my husband from day one that three kids was the minimum number I would accept. This certainly helped shape and guide my many decisions. But, now, as my youngest child is turning two, I have to be honest with myself: I'm tired and more selfish than I was eight years ago when I became pregnant with my eldest son. I still get goosebumps when I think of the moment I met my children, or the enormous pride I feel when I watch them.
But I have also grown to love cycling, long runs, travelling, and long dinners out. I actually enjoy talking to my husband (most of the time). Knowing what I wanted then, as a young wife, is as important as knowing what I don't want now, as an experienced mom of three amazing boys. I'm eager for the next phase--even the hard stuff like homework, soccer games, girlfriends and curfews. Maybe I will finally start to wear real clothes, not just sweatpants and old milk-stained tanks. My days at the beach won't include a tiny bikini. But, you might catch me relaxing on the beach with nothing more than my sunglasses, a trashy magazine and a drink in hand. No water diapers, sippy cups, extra coolers or mother's guilt need apply.