When I was a little girl I always dreamed of getting married and having kids. I wanted to have five kids. I just couldn't wait to be a mom. I thought it would be so fun and that I'd be really good at it.
When I was pregnant with my kids I read every single what to expect book there was out there. I was prepared. Knowledge is power and I was full of both.
All the books I read were great, but I think they forgot a few chapters. When I look at my life now, it doesn't seem like anything I have ever read about. I mean, like, not even close. So I took it upon myself to add a few chapters.
Chapter 1: "So You Had Four Kids in Four Years, What the F Were You Thinking?"
Clearly, thinking wasn't our strong suit. There was no actual thought involved. There was, however, plenty of alcohol and poor decision making.
A picture popped up on my Facebook page the other day. It was of my three oldest kids when we brought our third home from the hospital. This picture scares the bajaysus out of me. The scariest part is that we brought home another baby fourteen months later. How in God's name we thought to get pregnant again with three freaking diapered babies at home I'll never know.
It's all just such a blur. I remember truly loving every second of it. But when I see this picture now, I have a full on panic attack.
Nothing can prepare you for the looks you get in public. Nothing can prepare you for the comments people feel obligated to make. Perfect strangers commenting about your blatant lack of birth control. Total randoms expressing their sheer horror in the way you've decided to space your offspring.
I used to look at these people and think they were so rude. I used to think that they were the crazy ones. But I am now one of those people.
Chapter 2 "Your Fourth Child is Born Missing a Chromosome, So Your First Three Kids Will Now Be Neglected"
It's just the reality of it. When you get that kind of diagnosis your entire life is flipped upside down. Every waking moment is spent focused on that one kid. It's only natural.
Your other children learn to fend for themselves. It's survival of the fittest. Until the day comes when you realize you still have four kids and not just one. And then you have to play catch up. Like when you meet your friends at the bar and everyone is already drunk. It's really, really hard.
The day eventually comes that you realize no one can tie their own shoes. Except the kid missing the chromosome. No one can count. Except the kid missing the chromosome. No one can do a somersault or hop on one foot. Except the kid missing the chromosome.
But it's okay. Turns out it's even better therapy to have the kid missing the chromosome teach the others how to do everything. Money cannot buy these types of services.
Chapter 3 "You Have Two Gender Creative Kids, Good Luck With That"
You give birth to healthy kids. They are adorable and are meeting all of their milestones. You are relieved. Until they start wanting to dress as the opposite sex. Whoa didn't see that one coming, did you?
Nothing can prepare you for this. It's uncharted waters. You're totally on your own. You have no idea what you're dealing with or how to deal with it.
You will learn a lot. About your child. About your spouse. About your friends. About your former friends. About how ugly people can really be.
But you will come out of it such a better person. You will be a more accepting, loving person. You will understand the struggles of others like you never could before.
You will also discover just how amazing people can be. You will meet new people who will make your life so much better. You will teach your other children what love and acceptance really is.
This chapter is still a work in progress. And probably always will be. Like most of the chapters in my life.
Chapter 4 "You Will Do Things You Never Thought in a Million Years You Would Do"
Besides a drunken night or two in college, I generally don't sleep in other people's urine. But that all changed when I became a mom. Now I do it almost nightly. If the bed is dry I just can't get comfortable.
I have used my pasta strainer to get poop out of the tub so that we can finish bath time without having to drain the last of the hot water. Think about that the next time you come to my house for a spaghetti dinner.
The very first time my oldest bled I didn't want to pick him up because I had a cute shirt on and didn't want to ruin it. He was about fifteen months old and terrified. But I wasn't about to ruin a perfectly good blouse. Nowadays I can get pooh on my shirt and find it perfectly acceptable to wipe it with a wet paper towel and be on my merry freaking way. What smell? I don't smell anything.
I have taken a drink out of a child's cup that has more food than beverage in it. But only because I was super thirsty. This is something I would have never thought myself capable of before kids. But that's what being a parent is all about.
In the end, nothing can ever prepare you for becoming a parent. Nothing. You can read all the books you want, seek all the expert advice you want, watch every movie ever made about parenting. But you just learn as you go. You learn from your experiences.
Although, I'm starting to realize that there are some things you never actually figure out. You just roll with it. I really believe that nobody knows what the hell they are doing. Just like me. And I wouldn't want it any other way.
Read more by Eileen O'Connor at No Wire Hangers, Ever