When I was pregnant, I would sit in the rocking chair in my new nursery and dream of what the future would be like. I envisioned her sweet face, her first toddling steps, the way her little hand would fit in mine. I imagined being the one who cuddled her at night, who kissed her skinned knees, who carried her piggyback around the house.
Yes, all those things are wonderful parts of motherhood. But now, as a more experienced parent, I know what kids are really meant for: Braving the cockroaches in the garage.
Years ago, my husband wanted to “rescue” two bearded dragons (they were owned by a lady who had no idea how to care for them and wanted to get rid of them). I’m not a big herpetologist, but my husband loves all things scaly and reptilian, so I said, “sure.” (Plus, I was saving spouse points up for when I wanted to get a dog.) What I didn’t know about bearded dragons is that they eat gross things. Meal worms are not that awful. Crickets however are one of the most annoying creatures on the planet. They chirp All. Night. Long. And then, when you complain to your husband that either the crickets have to go or you will, he rips all the wings off of them so they can’t make any more noise.
I’ll admit. It was rather entertaining to watch the two dragons chase down crickets in their terrarium, but they always were full before they caught them all and then the nocturnal singing would begin. It’s like camping in your own home.
Once I outlawed crickets, my lovely spouse turned to huge green worms that splatted on the sides of the cage when bit. They also cost $2 a worm. Then he discovered some breed of roaches. They have a special name. He assures me that they are not the same as the palmetto bugs that roam about Florida.
I call them cockroaches.
He also tells me that in order to save money, he needs to breed them. He purchases 25 roaches in the mail and creates a special environment for them in a Sterilite tub with paper egg cartons. He promises me that this special breed cannot climb, so the lid isn’t even really necessary. (I insist that it is necessary if he wants to stay married.)
Flash forward a year or two, and we now have a thriving roach metropolis that has grown to TWO tubs, crawling with huge roaches.
Now, since this breed of roaches truly can’t climb, it should be fine. They don’t smell. They eat the kids’ left over apple cores, and they are a free source of food for the dragons.
But, as Jeff Goldblum says in Jurassic Park, life finds a way. The neighborhood roaches discover this roach utopia and prowl about the outsides of the tubs, trying to break in. The neighborhood flies discover the endless supply of apple cores and have no trouble fitting in between the cracks on the lids to feast. The neighborhood spiders discover the all-you-can-eat buffet of flies and set up shop all around the tubs.
I am a patient and long suffering woman. I learn to open the door to the garage and turn on the light before stepping in. I yell loudly for “Charlie,” the ginormous roach that lives under the deep freeze, to run and hide before I walk out. We have a truce of sorts, both terrified of each other.
But last night Charlie broke the truce. And he had invited his uncles, and his cousins, and his aunts to come visit. Instead of running to hide, he ran at my feet. I screamed. (It’s a well known fact that when dealing with scary, creepy-crawly things you need to yell. The sound waves batter them and force them to run away.) He finally got collected enough to run back under the deep freeze, but his relatives were not so savvy. I picked up the nearest heavy object and pummeled the closest roach before retreating to the safety of the house.
Panting heavily, I still hadn’t taken the trash out. This was when I realized what I could never have imagined sitting there in my nice clean nursery awaiting the birth of my first child: This is why I have kids!
“Grace!” I scream, “I need you to take the trash out!”
Genius. Pure genius.
You know that family that shows up to church in the 15 passenger van? The one that homeschools? Ever wondered how they make it through the day or wished you could be a fly on the wall of their house? Well, I'm inviting you in. I'm 36 and I ride herd on 8 children (oldest is 12), 3 cats, 2 bearded dragons, and one puppy. It's loud, chaotic, and imperfect. Welcome to Life in the Big House!