Having children completely changes your life. Everybody knows that. All of a sudden, (although not really--you've had almost a year to prepare, right?) you become responsible, absolutely completely responsible, for another person, another life. Everything you once were gets shoved aside as you shift your focus onto growing and sustaining the life of this little person cradled in your arms. Your child becomes your focus, and you find yourself doing things you never thought you were capable of. Breast-feeding, pulling continuous all-nighters, cleaning up explosive poop, pulling buggers from noses. Most people expect this in some way shape or form when they have children. What they do not expect, what I did not expect, were the absolute changes in vocabulary.
I am an English teacher, so language is important to me. Whenever I sit down to blog, it takes me at least 45 minutes to get through a post. I have to choose my words carefully, edit, revise. I can't even write in a journal without thinking about how I'm going to phrase my thoughts! So, when I find myself chanting, "Go Garrett, go Garrett, make some stinks, in the potty!" I realize I've come to the parenting point of no return. I mean, I have a Master's degree for crying out loud! I can discuss eschatology and the hermenutical circle. I can deconstruct a Robert Frost poem ("Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Day is not about the beauty of nature, by the way) or provide an in-depth literary analysis of Pride and Prejudice. I despise text messaging because it's so grammatically incorrect and I absolutely refuse to put in writing, "how ru?". Yet, all of that seems to be thrown out the window when it comes to my children. Instead of discussing the symbolic nature of Poe, I discuss the symbolic nature of Lightning McQueen.
"Is that Lightning McQueen?"
"Yes, Garrett. That is Lightning McQueen."
"What's Lighning McQueen doing?"
"Is he racing?"
"Yes, Garrett. He's racing."
Instead of discussing the principles of the Trinity, I discuss the principles of toddlers.
"Garrett, I swear if you're playing in that toilet again I'm going to spank your bottom!"
"We're not going outside until you put some pants on!"
"Did you color on the bathtub? Are you supposed to color on the bathtub? What are you supposed to color on? Is this paper? Then should you color on it?"
"Stephen, don't eat the cat food!"
"Stephen, don't eat the dirt!"
"Stephen, don't eat your poop!"
And finally, instead of speaking with eloquence and thoughtfulness, I speak in raspberries.
"Hey Stephen, how's it going there under the table? Finding any good crumbs to munch on?"
"Oh, really? Well, phlblblblblblbbl to you to, Bones."
Yes, having children definitely changes you in many surprising ways. And as they grow and mature and become their own individuals, you don't ever return to the person you once were. And although your teenage children might see you as a dithering, batty, out-of-touch, nosy nuisance, you'll see that you've raised a thoughtful, eloquent, independent young man or woman and that you've grown in ways you never thought possible. Thank God for our children!
Blessings and Peace,