So, we have this turtle. It’s an orange eared African slider or some such something and truth be told I have no idea how or why we have the damn thing.
That’s not totally fair. We have it because I, yes I, in my infinite wisdom decided a turtle was a great pet! It lives in my older son’s room, very low maintenance, and it’s a pet – so we have a pet. Turtle. A pet turtle, which really isn’t a “pet” at all.
Let’s back up.
Before I had kids, I was fiercely independent. I had an idea about the person I was going to be and in most visions it didn’t necessarily include a house, husband, two kids, and a pet. I every-so-often thought about “if” I ever had a kid what kind of mom I’d be. I’d be strict, firm, a hard-ass, but still fun, silly, and a little bit wild. We’d have grand adventures and I’d teach them all about independent films, music, literature, dance, theatre, and football. I’d teach them to have an allegiance to the University of Texas Longhorns, and an appreciation for a perfectly executed Boeuf Bourguignon. We’d live in an apartment in a fabulous city that had arts, culture, and great parks and we’d laugh and argue and navigate life on my terms.
Then, on February 13th, 2007 my first son arrived and I became a pile of mush, but the kind of mush that can turn into Wonder Woman and shoot laser beams from its eyeballs if needed to protect this tiny boy. Willing to make any sacrifice necessary – including travel, my career, and sometimes my own happiness. That tiny little mess of a human taught me about love like I’d never known. I had a vague idea of how tragic love can be, how painful and terrifying. I’d known before his arrival that just because I love something doesn’t mean it’s safe or will stay. And now, with his arrival, I knew even more deeply that neither love nor life is on my terms.
So, we grew him a brother, because a built in playmate is super convenient for a mama. Then we got them a house, and two cars, and playdates, and a zoo membership, and a teeny tiny toilet, and little veggie flavored puffs. I discovered a career that would never have been known to me had I not had them. We made doctor’s appointments, enrolled in preschools, then ECE programs then, sniff Kindergarten, and are now looking at Middle Schools. We travel to exotic places like Woody Creek to see their cousins, and Lubbock, Texas to visit their second cousins, and Phoenix, Arizona to attend Spring Training because as it turns out football is terrible for brains and as luck would have it their daddy is a baseball guy and therefore so are they.
We do live in a great city with abundant culture, beautiful art and history museums, amazing restaurants, and fabulous parks – and we visit them all. We go see, “Sing” instead of “Get Out” or, “A Christmas Carol” instead of “Chicago” but hey, there’s time for that. They like pizza and hamburgers, but also love our neighborhood Moroccan restaurant and can navigate a pair of chopsticks (with those little plastic helper thingies).
Before I was mama, part of my plan was to live in hotel rooms in Paris and Tokyo and Rome. To pick up at a moment’s notice and move where the wind and the job took me. Live wildly, freely, and without knowing the word, “no”. Now, I’m the one saying “no”. No more oreos, no you can’t have a hedgehog (or a sloth), no you can’t play the Xbox, no I won’t sleep in your bed tonight. So, when on a scribbled letter to Santa, a sweet little seven-year-old asked for a turtle for Christmas I said yes. In fact I thought “F&*$ Yes!”
And now we have a turtle. Which, if you touch it you have to wash your hands RIGHT AWAY because, salmonella. And while I wouldn’t have life any other way, I do occassionally like to check into a hotel downtown and order room service, all by myself.