In the Interest of Full Disclosure

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“Why would I want kids?” She asked me in her letter, “I mean, they’re cute and all, but there are so many other things I want to do with my life. If I had kids, I couldn’t travel in Europe, I couldn’t sleep-in on the weekends, I couldn’t just ‘up’ and decide to go to the movie theater whenever I wanted. Just what about having kids do you like so much?”

She wasn’t trying to be rude. She was honestly curious as to why I was so enthusiastic about welcoming our third child into our home and why I was open and hopeful about the prospect of having more. Seriously, more children? Just what was so fun and alluring about the idea that I would keep doing that to myself?

During my boys’ naptime, when the house was quiet and calm, I fixed myself a fresh cup of coffee and wrote her a long letter in return. I listed the many reasons why I had chosen this life of peanut butter fingerprints and runny noses, scraped knees and temper-tantrum-taming. I explained how these children were my legacy, the only treasure I could take with me into the next life. I explained how I was ‘seeking first the kingdom of God’ and how I expected all those ‘personal fulfillment things’ (the world traveling, the sleeping-in, the movies) to be something that I could always do later.

I heard rustling in the bedroom and knew I had only a few minutes. I addressed and stamped my letter and set it on the counter. After some kisses and cuddling of the newly-woken children, I looked at the clock and realized it was time to prepare dinner. I put on a Veggie Tales movie in the living room, hoping the kids would be entertained long enough there so I could slice some raw chicken without being disturbed. The distraction technique worked for the 4-year old, but not for the almost 2-year-old.

While my hands were covered with raw chicken germs, Matthias came up to me and tugged on my leg. “Potty, potty.” He said, pointing to the bathroom. I washed my hands, undid his diaper and helped him visit the potty. It was a false alarm, but he does so love to flush! I went back to the kitchen and sliced a few more chicken strips before he was at my leg again. “Potty, potty,” he said again, pointing.

“No, I don’t think you really have to go.” I tried to shake him off, but his face turned panicky. As he threatened tears, I conceded. Washing my hands again, I took off his diaper and repeated the process.

A second false alarm. Nothing happened. But this time I got wise. I’d just leave his diaper off for a few minutes so he could visit the potty himself whenever he thought he needed to. After a few more ‘independent tries’, Matthias came to my leg again. “Hold me!” he cried, arms uplifted.

“I can’t right now, love. I have raw chicken on my hands. Go watch your movie.”

Hold me!” he cried, not understanding. Biting my lip, I stood strong. He might cry for a few minutes, but he could wait a few minutes. We’d cuddle on the couch after I finished slicing….

Then warmth. Then wetness. Running down my leg. I do a little dance with the chopping knife in the kitchen. “Matthias, no! Don’t pee!”

“What’s wrong?” Gabriel heard my horrified cry from the other room and came running. Kitchen floors are slick, especially when wet, and Gabriel doesn’t know any speed but ‘fast’. When his feet met the puddle on the kitchen floor, Gabriel lost his footing and slid banana-peel style back-first at our feet.

The look on his face was confused. “Why is the floor wet, Mom?” he asked, still dazed.

“Because Matthias peed there, love.” My voice was somewhere between laughing and crying. “Now, stay there. Don’t touch anything!” I’ve put the knife down by now, but my hands were still covered with raw chicken grossness. Matthias clinging to my leg made it difficult to reach the sink to wash them. Somehow I managed a pregnant, crippled, and straight-legged hobble that direction, wincing at each new sensation of wetness.

Gabriel spread wet fingers above his face, like a character in some horror-movie, and began to hyperventilate. “You mean, I have—It’s—It’s pee? I have Matthias’ pee all over me?” He began to wail.

Meanwhile, Matthias suddenly decides he is interested in that Veggie Tales movie after all. He heads toward the carpet, still diaper-less, leaving little, puddled footprints behind him.

Hands still covered with chicken goo, with a wet pant leg, a pee-drenched toddler wailing at my feet, and the culprit still at large, I looked heavenward. “I WANNA TRAVEL EUROPE! I WANNA SLEEP IN ON THE WEEKENDS! I WANNA GO TO THE MOVIES!” Waahahahahaha..*sniff, whimper, cough*

I saw the letter on the counter. The aspirations inside mocked me. Somewhere, my friend was sitting dry behind a desk, probably plugging numbers into some digitally-predictable software and planning what she was going to cook undisturbed that night. I could almost hear the letter physically laughing at me.

Did I send that letter? Yes, I did (and I still believe in what I wrote wholeheartedly). Even though these children can be tons of work, nothing with great rewards is usually easy. And, thanks be to God, our evenings aren’t always like this.

But, like many great aspirations, there’s often a backstory. Sometimes a less than glorious one. So here’s that backstory, to that more dignified and inspirational letter, in the interest of full disclosure.

21 thoughts on “In the Interest of Full Disclosure

  1. Theodore Seeber says:

    You can’t get entertainment like that at the movies. Nor in Europe.

  2. Paul Davis says:

    That is awesome! My nephew has many escapades like this. They’re a touch more intentional with him. Though my sister-in-law, who was a saint as a child, is often perplexed. Too cute.

  3. Jody B. says:

    In the intrestest of full disclosure, I was laughing. Although this situation has never happened to me. I have often been in a situation that is funny after the fact. One of the many great things about a house with children. Except when it happens while trying to get dinner done.

  4. Doug Gates (Grandpa) says:

    Those boys take after their grandpa. No, no. Not THAT one. The OTHER one. 🙂

  5. At the risk of sounding like your mother, it’s those types of experiences that build character. Every catastrophe you manage just makes you more prepared and more poised for the next time. Because with children, there is ALWAYS a next catastrophe. 🙂

    But the inspirational things you wrote are also true – there are things more important than the ability to always do what you want when you want. Granted, there are some vocations that are incompatible with parenthood (and that’s a good thing, too!) but for me there is nothing that compares with the process of watching a new little person grow and bloom under your care.

  6. Kaylee Trammell says:

    Great post, Kelsey.

  7. Angelika says:

    Hahahahaha! That cracked me up. I really sometimes do think I am the only mum on the planet that has these high ideals and these..interesting…moments! Thank you Kelsey, once again, for showing reality in combination with truth. Standing in the midst of a warm puddle can make it really hard to believe in the honour of this calling called motherhood. And yet, it truly is an honour to raise immortal souls for the kingdom!

  8. Christy Johnson says:

    Yes!! I love my three kiddos under age 4, but yes, there are moments like these almost every day! My days are pretty smooth for the most part, but when things start to crash everything crashes at once.

    Why, when I get my very distractible 6-month-old finally nursing is when someone needs to go poo? Or gets into the dishwasher soap? Somehow interest in Winnie the Pooh is gone as soon as I’m busy? The hour before dinner is called arsenic hour for a reason!

    But it’s all worth it. 🙂 And we’re called to serve the “least of these”. Sometimes that’s my little children, who can’t really do much for themselves, but need a mommy to show Jesus to them.

  9. Christine says:

    This was a great post, I’m sure we can all relate to one extent or another. You had me laughing nonstop out loud.

    Thanks for sharing. God bless you and your growing family!

  10. Erin Mc says:

    It’s fun reading this while nursing a five week old with purple lips and a very stinky diaper who kept both his parents up for several hours last night.

  11. Amy says:

    Thanks for the encouragement. 🙂

  12. Phoebe says:

    Thanks for a good laugh! It’s moments like you just described that I always think, ” If Someone walks into my house right now, they will think we are all crazy!” Maybe we are;)

  13. Janine Miller says:

    Oh my gosh, Kelsey, this was absolutely priceless!! What a perfect description of life with little ones. As I was reading your post, my 17 year old son kept asking me what I was laughing at but I didn’t share it with him–yet. He just simply will not understand how hilarious this is until he has little ones of his own!

  14. lina says:

    This was hilarious (sorry) I mean I feel I have permission to laugh bc I also have kids 😉 I can picture your 4 yr old horrified LOL

    PS I always wear gloves to protect my hands and to make things easy when I suddenly have to use my bare hands !

  15. Myriah says:

    I laughed so hard my two year old asked why I was crying. I only have one but can relate to this post as we potty train. Thank you for summing up parenthood in all its glory and horror and humor so well!

  16. Beth S. says:

    Oh, Kelsey–
    Love this. 🙂 🙂
    Just wait until there’s also newborn & new mom bodily fluids to add into the mix?!?
    You’ll do just fine.

  17. Helena Hinz says:

    That was so funny. Chaos is a mum’s constant battle. You did the right thing….first things first…Put the knife down! Sending good vibes to you. Rest up.

  18. Annemarie Salisbury says:

    I loved this! We, too, have a 4-year-old Gabriel, and a 2-year-old Carsten Matias! I came over here from reading your Screwtape guest post at To Love, Honor, and Vacuum. I’m sure I’ll be reading more in the future!

  19. Rebecca says:

    What a funny post. I always think it’s dumb when people say, “Oh, I don’t want kids, I want to travel.” You can do both – kids are amazingly portable! We’ve gone overseas with our two every year since the youngest was 1. (I’ve never travelled overseas with babies. They have too much gear. But 12+ months, easy.) They’ve been to 8 countries on 4 different continents. The flights are the worst; but even when my youngest was a bad traveller, I’d just repeat my mantra, “I’ll never see any of these people again,” and we survived. You do different things with kids than you’d do on your own or with your spouse; but it’s tons of fun, and airfares have never been cheaper.

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