Guys, we’re going to have to change the meaning of the word “natural.” It’s either that or stop referring to anything related to motherhood and parenting as “natural.”
Take breastfeeding. Feeding your child with your very own body. It’s often claimed this is, and I quote, “the most natural thing in the world.” It is not. It is semi-aggressively shoving a sore and tattered body part over and over into your tiny baby’s piranha mouth until they finally latch on correctly. Which they have no idea how to do and you have no idea how to get them to do. Which is why you’re both crying and screaming while your husband and your mother and the lactation specialist all crowd around and take turns violently squishing said sore and tattered body part into various shapes in a vain effort to help.
Then, even when they get older, eating does not come naturally to children. Nor does eating natural foods. Every day is another scene in the ongoing play “Here’s Food, Little Humans!” And every day ends in the same climatic final scene, with the kids yelling, “Oh no, we can’t eat that! That has actual nutrients in it! We demand Cheetos with some Play-Doh dip on the side!”
Sleep? Pffft. Forget it. Getting a kid to sleep “naturally” in their bed requires months of training, semi-professional ninja skills and, when all else fails, sacrificing a small goat to the deity of your choosing.
Kids even turn bodily functions into an absurd struggle. There is nothing natural about potty training. Even animals know not to crap where they sleep. Humans have to be rewarded with stickers and candy for months, sometimes years, before they finally relent and agree that yeah, sleeping is easier when you don’t have a pantsful of poop.
And there is nothing, NOTHING, natural about the unholy and indescribable agony you feel when stepping on a child’s Lego, which I imagine is its own level down in Hell. Just a big ‘ol round room where the floor is covered in Legos and Satan tells you “you can leave as soon as you find a corner.”
But perhaps the one that surprised me the most is that siblings don’t naturally know how to play with each other. At least my kids don’t. A fact I have oh-so-delightfully been discovering as they get older.
Every day I practically have to introduce the two.
“Oh, Riker, you remember your sister, the tiny creature who ruined your awesome only child existence? Why don’t you see if she wants to play Stormtroopers?”
“Mae, this is your brother. He also thinks it’s fun to spin around until you want to puke, unlike me, your mother. How about you ask him to spin around for 27 minutes straight?”
And every day, they both tell me the exact same thing.
“No! I want to play with YOU, Momma!”
If I am anywhere in the vicinity, forget it. They basically treat me like a portable playground, just clinging and swinging from any body part they can grab onto while I desperately run past on my way to the bathroom or the kitchen or the basement to do exciting things like shower or cook or find a dark corner to inject sugar and carbohydrates directly into my veins.
I just don’t get it. They’re only two years apart. And yet, the oldest seems to view his sister as merely a pet, but like a pet with mange and rabies and thus a pet that should be avoided at all costs.
And I always thought the younger sibling was supposed to worship the older one, following them around like some moon-eyed pet. Not my daughter. Nope. She always seems to be plotting how to overthrow her brother, as though he were an heir to some fabulous kingdom. Even though I keep reminding her that our kingdom is small and in debt and has a wonky dishwasher that is on the fritz.
It may be time to admit that my two beautiful, smart, funny, kind, wonderful children are duds in the sibling department.
But hey, it’s not like the only reason we had two kids is so that they would have someone to play with. We also had two kids so they can pool their money when they get older and send me and their father to a top-notch swanky retirement home.