Dictionary.com lists the definition of ready as follows: Completely prepared or in fit condition for immediate action or use.
From the time the boys were very small, there were quite a few things that I was fairly sure I would never be “ready” for. Hell, I wasn’t ready to be a parent and yet I took the plunge anyway. Is anyone ever really ready to be a parent? Someone may think they are, but no one can ever be completely prepared for suddenly having your life consumed by a tiny, lovable tyrant (or two). Some other things I wasn’t ready for: the helpless feeling you get when your child is sick, having teenaged-sized attitude in a toddler, the incredible range of emotions children can bring out in you from unadulterated joy to overwhelming exasperation, and putting my keys in the freezer and milk in the cabinet because that’s how one’s mind functions when they have these lovable tyrants running around.
There are some other moments that I wasn’t ready for either, but when the time came I feel like I performed pretty damn well for a first-timer. Like the first ER visit. And the 2-10th. And answering questions about their dad. And about what happened to the tooth fairy when she didn’t show up. And watching them go off to school for the first time. And trying to explain why I couldn’t just give them a baby sister. But today I was faced with a question that I wasn’t even close to ready to answer.
The conversation was normal enough for us. We were driving in the car and the boys were in the back
discussing hospital visits and how many we have had (see previous paragraph) and I was stressing why we are hoping to never, ever have to go to the hospital again and how many people can actually go through almost their entire lives without ever having to go to the hospital and trying to explain the difference between going to the hospital for tests or something and going to the hospital for an emergency.
“Right,” C said. “Because everyone goes to the hospital when they are born. So technically, everyone has been to the hospital.”
“Well, not necessarily.” I said. This was my first mistake. I had learned from my previous wins at answering questions I was not prepared to answer that the key to a successful interaction was to stick to the briefest version of the truth possible. No additional details. No explanations. As a rule, I am not good at this. My sister has often said that my biggest problem is that I talk to the boys too much and as a result they will talk and talk and argue and explain and debate and talk some more about everything. This may well be a case in point. But I had no idea I was about to be trapped.
“What do you mean?” C asked. “You mean like people who are born in church?”
“Well, no, I think church would be an unusual place to be born. But some people are born at home or in birthing centers and different places than hospitals.” I thought I was sharing valuable information. I was really setting myself up for the question that I was least prepared to answer this morning.
“Babies can’t be born at home” G said. “How would that even work?”
“Of course they can, lots of people do that.” Suddenly, I had a bad feeling.
“What, do their husbands like cut them open with a butcher knife or something to get the baby out?”
“Ha! No. Not all babies are born by doctors doing surgery…” my voice had kind of trailed off. Sweet Jesus, what have I done.
“Then how are they born?” the two of them asked almost in unison.
Crap. “Um, well they don’t come out by the doctors doing a c-section and taking them out the way you guys were born.” I said repeating myself.
“So how do they come out?”
“Umm…they um…” Smooth as a porcupine, I tried to decide how to answer. There was really only one way and I was having such struggle saying it to my two eight-year old boys. If my niece had asked me, I think I would have just come out with it. Instead, I was hemming and hawing and knew that if I made any bigger deal of it, it was going to become WAY bigger of a deal than I wanted it to be. In the meantime, they decided to guess.
“Do they poop it out?”
“Do they throw it up?”
There is already hysterical laughter, so I bite the bullet.
“No, the baby comes out of the woman’s um, vagina.”
“Because the baby is in the uterus or womb and then it comes down the cervix tunnel and out the vagina…these things are all attached in the woman’s body and…” and, STOP TALKING, WOMAN.
So I stopped.
“Yeah, that makes sense.” one of them said. I lost track of who was saying what since they were just going back and forth like ping pong balls.
“Yeah. Because that is at the front of the body. Much more sense than pooping it out.”
I held my breath while they giggled. Please don’t ask how the baby gets in there in the first place, please don’t ask how the baby gets in there in the first place, please don’t…
“Yeah and it totally could come out of a butt more easily than throwing it up.”
I couldn’t help myself. “It isn’t in the butt. That is a different body part.”
“I know. I am just saying. It would be easier than coming up through the mouth.”
Right. I said nothing more and somehow we moved on. I am soooooooo not ready to have these talks. I don’t think I will ever be ready. Is anyone? I don’t even really remember having the birds and the bees talk. I do remember asking my mom where babies came from on a dare. I had already been told by a friend’s older siblings. The idea was so gross that I just couldn’t even fathom it. I also remember the “period” discussion in fifth grade where all the fifth grade girls and parents went and watched the movie about blossoming into womanhood or whatever craziness that was. It so didn’t prepare me for the actual thing. And while I want my sons to be well-informed and prepared, I wish I knew how to do it without actually having to utter the words. Somehow, I feel like as soon as these boys hear their mom say words like “vagina” and “uterus” it’s all over for them. And I bet they won’t enjoy me trying to explain what is happening to their bodies (Lord, help me). So parents, how did you get prepared? How old were your kids? And how did you do it? I’ve got a few years (I hope!) but today gave me a taste of what’s ahead and clearly I need to get ready.