Monday, August 3, 2009


Yesterday was a rainy day, so we stayed inside, watched a Harry Potter movie, and baked brownies. Then, because we are kind and generous parents, we gave Silas a little bit of brownie for dessert.

As it turns out, this was spectacularly ill-advised.

Feeding a decadent chocolate dessert to a toddler is like treating a mental patient with crack cocaine. At first, he took it well. Our little Silas continued banging his pots and pans together, and if he was smashing them so violently that ragged shards of metal were spraying the kitchen walls like shrapnel, it wasn’t so you’d notice. At eight thirty, he fell asleep, to all appearances like a normal human child.

I can only assume that for the next few hours, he entered his pupal stage. Silently, while we slept, he excreted a fibrous material out of specialized glands in his anus that served to shield him from the outside world. As metamorphic life forms are known to do, Silas spun himself into a cocoon.

And then, at two o’clock in the morning, he hatched.

The screams that detonated in our apartment like a nuclear bomb blast were not those of a human child. These were the half-strangled, guttural howls of a wild animal, a savage troll, a bug-eyed swamp thing from hell.

This was not my son. This was The Baby From Beyond The Grave.

We tried everything. We changed his diaper. We gave him something to drink. We brought him into bed with us, and tried to cuddle him to sleep, at which point he kicked me in the stomach and nearly castrated his father with his sharp little baby knees.

And here is where I really resent being a mother. Because while the calm and logical centers of my brain were saying things like, “Take the Devil Child and put it outside, in the car, where the sub-zero temperatures will make it sluggish and docile,” the brain-damaged Mommy centers of my brain were saying, “awwww, my poor little boopsie.” And then I was cuddling it. The screaming, shrieking, Baby from Beyond the Grave.

I have a theory about all this. As is common to many victims of prolonged torture, I am not the same person that I was before I became a mother. For example, I now cry when I watch Harry Potter, because it feels unbearably sad to me that Harry doesn’t have a mommy and a daddy. And whereas I used to find ghoulish delight in movies about violent death and dismemberment, I now have to turn them off. Because somehow, having a child has pried open my cold and dried-up little heart, wedging in a direct pipeline to the pain and joy of being alive.

It's terrible. No longer can I base my life decisions purely on irony and self-involvement. Now, despite my worst intentions, I am forced to feel.

How did this happen? It’s simple. Essentially, Nature employs the same techniques as religious cults and nefarious police forces everywhere. First, there is a long period of psychotropic drug use. For the Manson cult, it was LSD. For mothers-to-be around the world, it’s a potent cocktail of estrogen and progesterone, all the better to prepare the brain for complete annihilation and re-programming. Then, there is the experience of childbirth. This is a bloody and violent act, much worse than the comparatively refreshing “waterboarding” that has Amnesty International in such an uproar. And lastly, new mothers are subjected to at least six months of intense and continuous sleep deprivation. Repeatedly denying sleep to a captive is a powerful tool for torture and mind control, actively employed by secret agents from the KGB to the CIA. It is also used with great success by so-called “babies” who demand to be fed several times during the night, and who refuse to just eat a cheeseburger when they’re hungry like everybody else in the world.

Since my reprogramming, I can no longer think for myself. Every crazy plan, every selfish impulse, is forced through a filter which asks, “Is this what is best for the baby?” If it isn’t, the plan is rejected, even if it involved large quantities of good times, mixed drinks and tropical sunshine.

I am a puppet, with Darwin’s hand up my ass. He’s forcing me to protect my offspring and ensure the survival of the species. But he hasn’t said anything about earplugs. And I’m buying some. Today.

1 comment:

  1. This continues to be one of my very favorite posts about motherhood EVER. Thanks.