Mothers sometimes, especially when in the grips of frustration, wonder what life would hold for them if they had not procreated. Listening to a child mimic, in a sing-songy voice, every word his sibling utters during the course of a three hour car trip, or stepping on a cluster of stray Leggos in the night, or leaving the kitchen for five seconds, only to return to find one child dropped his entire meal on the floor, two children are exchanging "ah-ah's" and "uh-huh's," while a fourth gives the blow-by-blow rundown of how it all started, can drive a parent to thoughts of what could have been.
Acute irritation makes the mind wander into fantasy . . . A Cascade-take-me-away moment, in which a mom visualizes herself lounging on exotic shores, eating lobster and downing fruity beverages brought to her by a smooth, tan cabana boy, interrupts reality.
A loud "Mama," vocalized from the back seat, however, jerks her back into the moment and she un-sticks her legs from the vinyl car seat, wondering if the tacky texture resulted from the sucker she found glued there, or the sweat from her legs (because the AC died). Nonetheless, she accepts the watermelon slush handed to her by a pimply teenager, who can't decide if he has enough facial hair to start shaving.
What could have been?
More steak, less spaghetti; more motorcycle, less minivan; more wine, less whine; more Grisham, less Seuss; more Beethoven, less Barney.
More sweater sets, less you-couldn't-have-outgrown-that-yet's; more CEO, less PTO; more salad, less fries; more History Channel, less Cartoon Network.
More "?" on the kitchen table, less eating on it; more Deer Valley, less Disney World; more talk radio, less talking back; more teleconferences, less teacher conferences.
More 10K run, less nose run; more landscape, less playscape; more boutique, less Target.
More royal highness, less wiping hineys; more eating on the sofa, less eating in the pantry; more fraternizing, less fussing.
More stretch pants, less stretch marks; more dinner parties, less birthday parties.
More cruising, less carpooling; more hand ball, less T-ball; more cashing in, less handing cash out; more retirement fund, less college fund; more china, less paper plates; more high rise, less meals with a prize.
More Pinot Grigio, less pop-ice; more bucket seats, less booster seats; more film noir, less "No, that's rated R."
Then, if from nothing more than shame, she considers the flip side . . .
More solo, less sidekicks; more quiet thoughts, less quiet talks; more doing it myself, less "Can I help?;" more silence, less I-love-you's; more sleep on Saturday mornings, less sweet snuggles; more roses in vases, less weeds in juice glasses.
More prim and proper, less wild giggling; more handshakes, less hugs.
More co-workers, less cohabitating; more solitaire, less Clue; more admiring others, less unconditional admiration; more reading about super heroes, less being one.
More doing housework, less excuses to skip it; more store bought gifts, less handmade surprises from the heart; more self-absorption, less perspective; more stock trades, less life's lessons exchanged; more looking in the mirror, less little reflections of ourselves.
Sometimes, we find it hard to think a good thought, despite how much we love them. It's times like these that a mother stops, folds her hands, bows her head, and simply thanks God for allowing her, regardless of her deficiencies, to ensure the continuation of her gene pool.
She knows, if she starts there, the rest will come.