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.

Anything goes… as long as it’s funny

It’s very strange having two kids who are teenagers. When my husband and I got married and I officially became a stepmom, the boys were only four and seven. They were adorable and innocent and now I wish I had started this blog back then so I had a record of all the cute things they used to say.

For instance, whenever they broke something they would say plaintively, “It was on an accident” instead of “It was an accident,” which we always found funny. (They did not, because even though they were cute, they would still get in trouble. Parents are jerks, right?)

Once Gunnar found a stray cat outside our apartment (that he named “Sprinkles” even though it was tiger-striped) and when Eric wouldn’t let him bring the cat inside, Gunnar cried, “You hate God’s creatures!” (Eric countered with, “I don’t hate them; I  just find them filthy and dirty.” Gunnar was not appeased.)

When Gunnar experienced the dreaded “special” health class in fifth grade, he came home and said, “I know all about how babies are made.” Then, with a meaningful look at us: “It’s disgusting.” (“Don’t look at me,” I protested. “I’ve never made babies.”)

At our old apartment, our bedroom’s vent connected with the boys’ vent. So whenever they needed us they would just holler through the vent like it was an intercom: “Dadddyyyyyyy… Jesssssieeeee… we’re hungryyyyyyy.”

Of course, this meant they could also hear us. Whether we wanted them to or not, ifyouknowwhatImean. I still remember Caleb saying to us disapprovingly over breakfast, “I could hear you guys kissing.”

And sometimes we’d watch movies that were funny but probably not age-appropriate. For instance, one night when Eric wasn’t home, the boys and I watched “Dodgeball.” Fairly harmless, but I forgot about the ending when Christine Taylor’s character kisses another girl and says, “I’m not a lesbian, I’m bisexual!” and then proceeds to make out with Vince Vaughn’s character. Not exactly pearl-clutching dialogue, but at the time both boys said, “Ewww!”

Then came the inevitable question: “What’s bisexual?” Gunnar asked.

Oh, dear.  But, amazingly, I came up with a diplomatic answer: “It’s when you like both boys and girls.”

“Oh,” they said solemnly. Then, “Ewww.” (This was in the good old days when the thought of anyone kissing anyone was gross and hilarious.)

Blondie- Gunnar Thug stance- Caleb Grinning fool- me.
Blondie: Gunnar. Thug stance: Caleb. Grinning fool: me.

Now, if we were to watch it and that scene came on, they’d both be like, “All right!” Then they’d probably rewind it and watch the scene again. Ugh.

I think that’s what bothers me most: not that it’s awkward to watch that stuff with the kids, but now there’s no need to explain/avoid explaining what it means.

The other night we all watched Louis CK perform stand-up. My rule has always been: If it’s funny and not tooooo inappropriate, then it’s okay to watch. Since I’m a comedy writer, I try not to censor too much when it comes to comedies.

For example, Tosh.0 gets on all of my nerves, but I don’t forbid the boys to watch it; I just don’t want to be around when they do. (Although Eric claims he’s heard me laughing while it was on. Filthy lies.) But on the other hand, a few years ago I watched one of Dane Cook’s stand-up routines and not only was it incredibly vulgar, it wasn’t even funny. Unforgivable. So I banned them from watching that.

I have weird rules, you guys. Deal with it.

For some reason that night Caleb was being all grumpy and teenagery. The whole time Louis CK was on he kept interrupting and saying things like, “Oh, it’s funny when he says the “F” word…”

After he had interrupted approximately five million times, Gunnar  hit “pause” with pointed emphasis, looked over at Caleb and said sarcastically, “Anything else you’d like to say? Any other comments? Come on! Get ‘em out now!” which for some reason I thought was just as funny as the comedian. It’s hard to convey in blog form how funny Gunnar is because it’s all in his expression and the way he says things. I’d post a picture of him but I think he’d literally kill me. So just trust me… it was funny.

Everyone quieted down and, after glaring at all of us, Gunnar hit “play.” And we watched a brilliant comedian and laughed our butts off… as a family.  Anything we can all enjoy together is a rare and precious gift during these dark teenaged times.

So if I have to watch a guy tell hilariously inappropriate jokes just to hang out with my boys… I’ll take it. Even if now the boys insist on explaining the jokes to me. 

Ewww.

Present day. (Well, 6 months ago.)
Present day. (Well, 6 months ago.) *Still* thrilled to have their picture taken, clearly.

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.