Sunday, April 23, 2006

Was It Worth It?

Nana V had a shitty week. She drove to Baltimore to bring the dog to the eye vet, only to discover her appointment was for the next day. “They couldn’t squeeze you in?” I asked, only to discover that this eye vet is booked months in advance. Asking to be “squeezed in” makes the receptionists laugh. The next morning, Nana V’s car had been towed - from a space in front of her building, a space she rightly occupied - because it wasn’t displaying the correct sticker. By the time she circumnavigated the incorrect signage listing the wrong tow company, waited for the cab, called me for sympathy, and retrieved her car, it was too late to bring the dog back to Baltimore and she missed the appointment. The place will try to fit her in next week if there are cancellations.

So when Nana V called and offered to babysit last night, I took her up on it immediately. One, it meant a free babysitter (hooray!) and two, who can be bummed out after spending some time with this?

So Bump and I went out on a date. A real, bonafide dinner-and-a-movie kind of date. We saw an okay Denzel-Clive Owen-Jodie Foster movie, which I expected to be mediocre, so was pleasantly surprised when it rose to Okay.

“I’ve certainly paid to see worse,” Bump declared as we walked out of the theater.

Dinner was good. Not fabulous, but good. I would categorize the restaurant as “inexpensive” - not cheap, but pretty close: the total was $49 before tip and after beer and appetizers - so for the price, the food was remarkable.

So, a pleasant night of bargain non-suckage.

Wow, don’t you wish you were me?

Bump and I were recently bemoaning the travails of Lumpyhead: the helmet, the butthole embiggening, the new-found mobility, the not-sleeping, etc. My friend looked at the boy wistfully and said, “But it’s worth it, right?”

When I was pregnant and uncomfortable and bloated and nauseous and puking daily and stone-cold sober and complainy, my mother constantly said, “It’ll all be worth it in the end.” When Lumpyhead emerged and was beautiful and good-natured and surprisingly low-maintenance, Mom repeated, “It was all worth it, wasn’t it.” It was not phrased in the form of a question.

So here’s my thing: I don’t see parenthood as an experience that has to live up to the price of admission. It’s not about being “worth it.”

It’s like going on a fabulous exotic getaway, then being asked if the flight was “worth it”. You might have some stories about the actual travel, but the dolt who asks about your flight instead of your trip is probably just trying to be polite.

I don’t mean to get all “it’s the journey, not the destination” on you, because I think if you want a family, there’s only one way to get there.

I don’t mean “there’s only one way” as in birth-your-own-genetic-material, adopt, daycare, stay-home, cosleep, or other nonsense. I mean for you and your family, the choices you make create your route. There’s only one way to get there, and you’re taking it. You’re gonna pay what you’re gonna pay, and for some people it’s a business-class flight with champagne and personal video games, and for others it’s a minibus next to a crate of four chickens.

But you’ll probably come out with some fantastic stories about your trip to Destination Parenthood, whatever method you take to get there.

(A movie, however, can be “worth it.” Was Inside Man worth it? Meh. Sure. If you can score a free babysitter and matinee prices. Otherwise? Hello, Netflix.)

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