The Holiday of Existential Crises

New Year’s is annoying.

Not for the usual reasons: New Year’s Eve with its accompanying inflated cover charges, the strange urge to wear glitter, and those annoying “restricted menus” restaurants always throw at you. No, I don’t want garlic herb chicken with steamed vegetables, Chad. I know you have stuff to make cheeseburgers back there.

Don’t make me hurt you, Chad.

No, New Year’s is annoying because it makes you think. Holidays shouldn’t make you think. Holidays are supposed to be about drinking too much around  your family just so you can handle the alarming amount of toddler warfare. Holidays are about eating so much sausage that you start speaking German. That’s what the holidays are about.

But New Year’s messes with your head, man. You start questioning your very existence and every choice you’ve ever made. You realize everything’s pretty much the same as last year (and the year before, and the year before that). At least it probably is if you’re a person who is married and in her mid-to-late thirties. Okay, late thirties. OKAY, I’M TURNING 40 IN 7 MONTHS.

And I’m handling it JUST FINE.

Because when most of your big “life decisions” like kids and marriage are already done and over with, what’s left? Soon the boys will be graduated and on their own. (And by “on their own,”  I mean probably still living with us but not paying rent or doing anything useful around the house).

So once the boys are actually gone, then what are Eric and I to do? Just sit around still being young and super-hot? That gets boring, guys. Trust me.

So exhausting being us.

Should we buy a cabin in the woods? Not a horror movie cabin where I’d get stabbed in a horribly inventive way, but a pimped-out fancy cabin that has a hot tub and enormous windows that I never have to clean because we’re stupid rich. I’ll learn to make jam and decorate my house so country modern fabulous, Pinterest will explode out of sheer jealousy.


Or should we buy a place in the city? We could live in a cool historical building from the 1800’s but someone else fixed it up right before we moved in so it has brand-new plumbing and a really strong WiFi signal. Plus a sick balcony where we can light candles for sexy times but also has total privacy because you know everyone wants to check us out. We’re young and super-hot, remember?

Maybe we’ll travel and live in a new place every year. One year in NYC. One year in L.A. One year in… where else is there? Those are literally the only two places they ever show in movies and TV.

Anyway, New Year’s sucks. And, for the record,  I knew this before Jennifer Lawrence, because she could be my daughter, almost. Also, these plans of mine sound pretty pricey, so I better get back to writing my book. There’s a lot riding on this thing.

Yep. This is me.

My uterus is still fine, thank you.

So, in case you didn’t read my About page, I married a divorced dad of two boys who didn’t want any more kids. In fact, he took extreme measures to ensure no more youngins would henceforth be birthed from his loins; this involved a doctor, some Valium and a little snip-snip (respectful pause while all men reading this wince and squirm a little).

Despite society’s best attempts to brainwash me, a part of me always knew that the whole Mom thing wasn’t really my jam.

A long time ago my former brother-in-law told me I was “selfish” when I said I didn’t really want to have kids.

Let me set the scene: I’m in my early 20’s, about as far from adulthood as I could possibly be and still feed myself. That evening I was most likely hungover and taking a reprieve from my regularly scheduled debauchery.

My nephew (now 15) was just a baby at this time. I was rocking him to sleep and even as I gazed at his tiny little face with auntly love (how is “auntly” NOT a word? Screw you, Spell Check!), after a few minutes of gentle rocking a part of me thought: Huh. This is kind of boring. I experienced no pangs in my ovaries, no maternal longing. Just… boredom. Plus I was getting sweaty. Holding babies is wonderful until you realize that one baby can reach the approximate core temperature of the sun. And have you ever walked with a baby? How a 10 lb. baby can end up feeling like you’re carrying a lead-based laundry basket full of wet towels is something science should really figure out.

And the longer you’re around babies, you realize that their whole existence consists of forever making noises and smells and spewing liquid goosh from every orifice. Why are you so disgusting, babies? 

Anyway, back to my nephew. I told my brother-in-law that I didn’t think I wanted kids. Not that I impulsively decided this while holding my nephew. It wasn’t like, I held him for five minutes and then shoved him back, saying, “Blech! That was awful. You actually like this thing?”

No. But it was something that had been stirring for a while and I finally voiced it, unfortunately to the wrongggg person. I forget his exact words, but it was something along the lines of, “Only a selfish piece of crap would not want children because that means you’re only living to please yourself and you will die alone after a bitter, sterile existence.”

Awesome. Great talk, bro. Okay, back to me.

Now, I know some mothers who used to feel the same way I do. Having your own is a totally different thing, I get that. And I know that if by some weird cosmic force, I became pregnant and had my own baby, I’d pimp-slap anyone who said my baby was less than a miracle delivered by unicorns straight from heaven and wrapped in rainbows.

But—overall I’m thankful that I never hopped on board the Baby Express. My uterus has no regrets.

When my hubby and I first got married, a lot of my girlfriends and even people I didn’t know were aghast when I said we weren’t going to have our “own” kids. Everyone said, “You’ll change your mind!” (I actually wrote a blog post about this a long time ago entitled, “Congratulations On your Wedding, Now What About Your Uterus?” Hence the title of this post. If anyone wants to read it, I can try to dig it up. The blog post, not my uterus.)

Well, it’s been almost 10 years, I’m now 37 and my mind remains unchanged.  I get to experience motherhood-by-proxy with my stepsons. They were tiny little guys when Eric and I started dating, just 4 and 7. I feel very blessed that I got to experience most of their childhood “firsts.”

Although I must admit that at the time I mostly thought, “Wow, boys are loud, like, all the time. Why do they get up so early? They sure do talk a lot. Can’t they fix their own breakfast? Is that crying or laughing? What is all that screaming?”

Eric remained maddeningly calm while I clumsily maneuvered my way through stepmotherhood. Eventually I figured it out and now that the boys are teenagers, I can look back on those days with longing (much like every other parent with teenagers, I have forgotten the horrors of raising small children).

Sometimes I ask myself: If my husband didn’t already have kids would we have had our own? It’s an unanswerable question. But I think God put me exactly where I was meant to be. I’m pretty sure He knew I was probably better off not having kids around 24/7.

I picture Him watching 20-something me stumbling out of various clubs, looking blankly at my girlfriends and slurring, “Which one of us drove again?”

Shaking His head in exasperation, “Oh, Me. No, no, no, no, this one should definitely NOT procreate.”

Zap! “Here’s a divorced dad, in like-new condition…. he comes with two pre-packaged kids, no delivery required. His sperm is disabled, but no worries! Everything works properly. I think he’s perfect for you. Now stop that. Stop that, I say.”

It’s like a fairy tale, right? And we all lived happily ever after.

Typical Evening at the Pingles

Last night I’m drying my hair when I hear a knock at my bedroom door. It’s my youngest stepson, Caleb.

Caleb: Jessie, Colonel Sanders is at the door.

This is said in a quiet, serious tone, as if what he said is a totally normal thing to announce. There is a long pause while I take it in.

Me: (blankly) What?

Caleb: It’s either Colonel Sanders or the old guy from Jurassic Park.

This is Caleb’s idea of explaining something, by the way.

Me: Wha… What? So someone’s at the front door?

Caleb: Yes. But I’m not answering it.

Me: Well, neither am I! I’m in the middle of something.

(Don’t judge me. It takes a long time to dry my hair, you guys. And I can’t just stop in the middle! There’s a process.)

Caleb: I’m gonna tell Gunnar.

He marches to Gunnar’s room and says in the same tone, “Colonel  Sanders is at the door.” From the hall I could hear Gunnar say, “What?”

Caleb appears back in the hall with a baffled Gunnar trailing behind him. I’m pretty sure both our face expressions are the same.

“Caleb, is he still out there?” I hiss, for I just remembered that my windows are open.

Caleb: I’ll check.

Most normal people with an unwanted visitor on their doorstep would then quietly tiptoe down the stairs to check on the situation.

Not Caleb.

He thunders down the stairs with all the delicacy of a St. Bernard and thrusts his face against the door to peer through the peephole. “He GONE!” he declares with satisfaction.

I feel bad we left the poor guy standing on the porch. “I’m sure he was a perfectly nice man.”
“I’m sure he was,” Caleb says agreeably. “I’m sure he raises dinosaurs. Or chickens.”

Dear God.

I relay this incident word for word when my husband Eric got home. He’s now irritated we didn’t answer the door because he wants to know who it was.

“I don’t answer the door when you’re not here!” I protest.

“Gunnar and Caleb are here!”

“But I’m the adult! I’m supposed to protect them. What if he was psycho?”

“If the three of you can’t take the old guy from Jurassic Park, then you’ve got problems.”

The Pingles, ladies and gentlemen.