I grew up with three sisters and three brothers, so on a typical day, I might find myself dangled over the second-floor banister or tied to a tree Joan-of-Arc-style. And if someone locked themselves in the bathroom, they would most definitely be dipping my toothbrush in the toilet for no real reason.
Essentially, my upbringing was .01% Cleaver (a generous estimate) and 99.99% hospital for the criminally insane.
And it was strangely great, so I always wanted at least 12 children of my very own.
The trick, though, was figuring out how to over-populate my household without having to inconvenience my body. Unlike many people who want a gaggle or pride or fluffle of children, I wasn’t enamored by the idea of creating those little lives from scratch—especially if it meant wedging a growing fetus in my midsection. I wanted ‘buns’ desperately; I just didn’t want them in my oven. Period.
Why? I’m not sure.
But, I kinda wonder if my distaste was fueled by Sunday mass, where I’d religiously kneel, pretend to pray, and watch shoes as churchgoers made their way to the altar. I liked women’s footwear especially, so I zeroed in and placed each style into a specific category: sassy heels, sloppy sneakers, sensible flats—and misshapen, groaning shoes with kielbasa feet inelegantly stuffed into them. These shoes were most often owned by the many, many natural family planners in our parish.
Week after week, these pregnant feet thundered and squished down the aisle and scorched my pre-teen eyeballs. I was positively mortified.
A resolute tomboy, I couldn’t imagine allowing my body to morph into a shape that would impede jumping off garages and bolting from boys looking for a smooch. My fuzzy calves were scarred and sinewy and reliable, and even at 11, I couldn’t foresee forfeiting any part of my take-care-of-business body for a collection of joints and limbs that lumbered and waddled and sweat. No way.
Maybe this prepubescent resolve, a teensy weensy bit, did inform my later decision, maybe not. I just know that by the time I was ready for a family, creating an amalgam of my husband and myself didn’t seem necessary—or even attractive. So we took the perfect route for us: we adopted both our sons.
Sometimes I am asked about our experience—and I think the questioners expect a tale of infertility or a series of impassioned discussions weighing the pros and cons of this life-altering, irreversible decision. Nope. Our story went more along these lines: “Damn. I’m 36. We better get moving. Pick a country and let’s get this party started.”
People also ask if I’d do ‘it’ again. Huh? They’re not asking if I’d have kids again, I understand, but what information are they actually seeking? Do they want to know if I feel like I missed out on the miracle of birth? (Which, incidentally, sounds about as glorious as having galvanized nails driven into my skull.) Do the only-for-procreationists believe that, because I eschewed pregnancy, I accepted a life of agitated chastity and needlepoint? Are they asking me if I got rooked by opting for almond-eyed babies over Bandaid-colored ones?
I’m not sure I’m answering the right question, but I guess I’d say this anyway: I make dinners my boys refuse to eat, assign chores they refuse to do, deliver lectures they refuse to hear. I spend too much time digging crumpled and uninspiring math tests out of backpacks, and I routinely curse the new chinks in my windshield (which my 16-year-old swears were there before he got his permit…). I instinctively know where the cash goes when my once-fat wallet is suddenly empty, and I have become adept at recovering Starburst wrappers hidden under couch cushions. I sometimes hide in the bathtub when I hear “MoOooOOoooOoOoM!!!”
In essence, my days are a lot like any other mother’s. And, like the days of my youth, they’re strangely great.
So, yes, I’d do ‘it’ again. After all, whether you bake them in your oven or not, a bun is a bun is a bun.