I have never been pregnant, so I do not speak from experience. However, I have spoken to enough people, seen enough videos, and heard enough “water cooler” chatter to feel that I am speaking with some level of knowledge.
If there was not some magical, mystical “other experience”, some indescribable euphoria or sense of accomplishment, ownership, love, whatever, very few families would extend beyond one child. 9 months of back pain, mood swings, barfing, anxiety and sheer panic, heartbreak, and a multitude of other horrific changes that come and go with no consistency are reason enough. But when one considers that this experience is a seemingly endless march toward horrific pain and fundamental shifts in the human body, sometimes surgical scars and missing pieces, to consider replicating this event could be nothing short of insanity. But that “something else” deletes those experiences from recollection. Perhaps the memory of having felt pain is there, but the actual feeling cannot be recalled. The stories of misery and crying are retold, but the happiness, glow, and joy are all that can be re-experienced. This sensory and emotional amnesia is what tricks many one-time mothers into two, three, four or more time mothers.
And that is how I feel about my vacation.
I went to visit my sister and her family. 3 boys ranging in age from 4 months to 6 years and a dog. In recalling the trip to my husband and co-workers, I am not surprised that the totality of the experience is an overwhelming sense of joy, love, uplifted emotional sensibility, and just a really fun time. The 6:00 am wake-up call every morning and the rug burned knees and the sunburned aching back and the sore throat and the bug bites and the bouts of pouting and tears that can shatter your soul are completely outstripped by the laughter and dancing and fun. Remembering how those kids giggled and acted silly and said “I love you” or “I wuv you” just melts my heart. My brain sees those baby blue eyes and that wide open mouth curling into a smile and a nose wrinkle and a head shake and completely deletes the fact that two seconds prior he just emptied the contents of his stomach onto my shirt. (That baby is so chill, totally willing to just hang out and watch with no commentary necessary. Unless he’s starving. And he hasn’t seemed to figure out hungry yet, just perfectly happy and full to holy crap I haven’t eaten in forever I need food so five minutes ago FEED ME!)
I am hopeful that my visit resonates on the fun and happy side of the meter for them too, and I assume that it does. I am confident in the knowledge that the older boys find me incredibly silly and am delighted that they are willing to be silly with me, even if they can’t always remember whether I am Aunt Amanda or Aunt Caki. And I take the 4 month old rolling over for the first time while I was there as his personal stamp of approval on another new aunt.
Of course, we carved out adult time for ourselves as well, and I enjoyed getting to relax and take advantage of the vacation part of my vacation doing grown-up things. Spa treatment with cocktails, fancy dinner in an open air courtyard, TV that did not include animation.
I think the best compliment to this vacation is that I am still high from it, even after coming back to the office and beginning the long trek through 200+ emails and needy supervisors and the same old co-workers. If I feel like slipping into a rotten place, I just remember the sandball fight on the beach or roasting cotton balls over a paper fire and I’m back up on cloud nine.