Three is a tender age to have your dreams crushed.
“I’m sorry,” I told little Benny as we walked hand-in-hand into Target, our bellies filled with summertime BLT sandwiches. “But that’s just not possible.”
“But I want to!” he yelled. Really, he only has one volume: Loud. But the passion in his tone was clear. “I want to be that when I’m grown up.”
“Too bad, buddy,” I say sadly. “Only pigs can grow up to be bacon. Boys cannot.”
A short pause to absorb this devastating news. “But it’s so drippy and delicious.”
This is a conversation I never thought I’d have.
Similarly, I never thought I’d cheer as my sweet 7-year-old girl pummeled a boy in tae kwon do sparring.
“Don’t forget to use your left leg, too,” I tell her as she takes off her helmet. “And uppercut!”
I never thought I’d serve my son a peanut butter sandwich every day of his life, or stoop to dirty negotiation tactics at dinner.
“One more bite!” he offers.
“Fine,” I answer calmly over his still-full plate of roast chicken. “You may have one more bite, three times.”
“One, one, one.”
I never anticipated the thorough satisfaction that comes with a child finally learning to wipe his own bottom or the epic struggle of removing pirate face paint.
I never thought this would be motherhood.
I never thought that statements such as “Yes, you may sleep with your new toothbrush” and “We don’t tattoo ourselves with markers” would spill from my lips.
I anticipated sleepless nights, overwhelming love, fragile hearts and soaring dreams. I figured there would be messes, both literal and figurative. I had heard that the days would be long, the years short.
I knew, deep to the bones knew, that being a mother meant living for someone else. That I would put aside career, interests and relationships the moment they interfered with my family’s needs. That being a parent was the most important, daunting and serious responsibility I would ever have. And I was absolutely right.
I just never thought I’d have so much fun.
Beth Vrabel lives in West Manchester Township with her daughter, Emma, 7, and son, Benny, 3.