We threw the kids in the car the other evening and after a few minutes Vincenzo asked where we were going. We told him we were going to the mall. And the whining started. He hates the mall. It’s so boooring. He haaaaates shopping.
I told him there are starving kids in Ethiopia so he should be thankful we are going to the mall, but he just groaned even more miserably, because now not only did he have to go to the mall but also he was sad about all those kids in Ethiopia who don’t have malls to go to.
When we started to get out of the car Rocco said his stomach didn’t feel good. Then it was okay! Then it wasn’t. Then it was! We had gone to all the trouble of finding a parking spot who knows how many leagues under the ground, so we pushed on. I grabbed a beach towel because I have read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and the “carry a towel” bit is the most solid piece of advice I have ever received.
We ended up at a nice department store and Rocco’s stomach was decidedly not feeling good, so Kevin went over to one side of the store to *quickly* check out while I hung out with the kids by the fish tank on the opposite side of the store.
That’s when the puking started. I whipped out that towel and managed to get Rocco off the carpet and over to the tile, which was also the main walkway of the store. The puking went on and on and on while people walked by, either not noticing or being incredibly discreet about noticing my son loudly puking into a towel. For TEN MINUTES. Meanwhile Kevin was nowhere to be seen and I couldn’t leave because of the other two boys I was in charge of.
It was one of the most horrific moments I’ve had in nine years of parenting. Puked-up hot dog on our beach towel, on the floor, on me, all over my five-year-old, whose stomach was really trying to wrench out those last few dregs.
It was one of the most horrific moments, and yet, it also just felt like another “day in the life.” We dumped the towel in a biohazard bag, washed thoroughly with soap, and headed home, no big deal—like Rocco had just sneezed or something.
At the gym the next day I overheard a newly pregnant lady telling her friend about how she’s having second thoughts about even having kids after being at a party where the kids were out of control and their parents were filling her up with stories of their kids falling off of jungle gyms and breaking bones, plus some stories about their kids puking all sorts of stuff in all sorts of places.
I wanted to tell her that it’s okay; that they don’t come out like that. They come out sweet and sleepy and cuddly, and they let you pour all your love into them, which is a lot because you realize you never knew what love was before. You were always taught that love was an abstract concept but once your baby is born you see it is not not abstract at all. Love looks just like this beautiful baby you created.
It’s like this: remember how you used to think that Earth was the biggest thing in the universe, and then you saw one of those documentaries where they show that Earth is just a pebble in our solar system, and our whole solar system is just a speck of dust in the galaxy? That’s how much your idea of love changes when you have a baby.
Bigger and bigger grows your love for this baby as he or she grows, as each milestone makes you prouder and each smile makes you love him or her more, as this baby doesn’t just need its mama but comes to love, actually love you back.
So by the time you find yourself holding a child and a bag of hot dog puke at the mall you are so far gone that while you do feel a bit grossed out, you feel such a bigger dose of empathy for this little human who is both the keeper and the source of all your love that it just doesn’t bother you like it would have before.
I thought all this was a bit much for the gym, though, so I just kept on pedaling and thinking about how it wouldn’t matter if I said it all, anyway; it’s something she is going to know herself in a few month’s time. For all the years that humanity has existed, somehow the depth of a parent’s love is one we still haven’t been able to convey through writing or conversation.
And isn’t that amazing?
WHAT’S COOKIN’ 2NITE:
Corn and black bean salad
Mandarin orange chiffon cake
P.S. When we got in the car to go home Vincenzo piped up, “Well, at least going to the mall was fun for once!” He wasn’t being sarcastic, either; he truly enjoyed this shopping experience. He said it was nice to have an ”event” to make things more exciting.
We told him next time we go we are going to get Leo to take a poo right in the middle of the mall.