It took me thirty years to learn this: never say never. If you say you will NEVER do something, you immediately ring bells in the ears of Fate, Kismet, Karma, or whatever power in which you believe that will make you eat your words. Because you will eat your words, you will do the Never thing, and you will feel like a schmuck.
Sometimes you feel like a schmuck, because the Never thing turns out not to be that bad, and sometimes you feel like a schmuck because you had the unbelievable hubris to believe that you were above something, or at all in control of your life.
So let’s examine these Never things of mine. For fun, you can make a list of your Never things that you then proceded to do. Hell, write a blog post about it. Link it here. I’d love that, come to think of it!
Some of my Never things were major, some were minor, but I ate crow every time. Or kicked myself in the ass. Repetitively.
I grew up in Alabama. By the time I hit middle school, I knew that as soon as I was old enough, I was getting out of that state and NEVER coming back. That place was full of ignorant, uneducated, racist, misogynistic, judgemental, gossipy bible thumpers. And actually, that sentence is as true as it ever was. And I did get the hell out. I did my residency in New Orleans, which I adored, research in DC, which I adored (the city, not the research – I despise research) and took my first job out of residency in Atlanta. And I thought I had made it.
The above paragraph actually ties in at least 3 Nevers. Let us continue.
I worked as a babysitter and as a nanny for most of my teens and into my twenties. I liked working with children, but had enough experience with them to know that I probably didn’t want any. Children are little need machines, whose desires and actions completely eclipse any attempt on the involved adult’s part to do something else. Until you get them grown up enough to be useful and entertaining, and then they turn on you. My aunt brought up the subject of children to me when I was in my mid-twenties – at that time I was nowhere near being married, much less procreating. I told her rather savagely that I had no intention of having children – that dealing with them meant an interruption of life punctuated every few minutes by, “Mommy, LOOK!” After my childcare work, I had aggravating memories of “Look, I climbed up a step!” That’s nice, honey. “Look, I climbed up ANOTHER step!” That’s nice, honey. “But you didn’t look! You aren’t LOOKING! I climbed up another step!” After my rant, she looked at me strangely and said I probably shouldn’t have any.
I was never going to live in Atlanta, either. I had had friends for the past decade or so who, at one time or another had moved to Atlanta. And hated it. And were happy to enumerate a list of reasons why they hated it, and why no civilized person should ever live there. I listened to these reasons and thought, yep, that sounds reasonable. I won’t live there either.
I was never going to drink soy milk. Why the hell did the stuff exist? I remembered my Dad in his soybean phase, crunching handfuls of them for his health, and I remembered that they STUNK. Why would you want to drink something that smelled like that, unless you were some kind of rabid vegan, or mentally unstable health nut?
I was NEVER going to drive a minivan. I love beautiful cars – I helped my dad maintain his fleet of 1960’s Chevys – I loved the thrum of a V-8 and the surge of power when you stomped on the gas. When I was living in Atlanta (yes, Atlanta), I was still single and making great money. I bought a brand new Porsche Carrera Cabriolet, Arctic Silver. It was the car I had dreamed of since I was a kid, drooling over Carrera whale tails when they went by. I was NOT a minivan person. Even on the off chance that I might get married, or might have kids, at worst I would condescend to an SUV. Preferably a Lexus. HAH!
I probably should have put marriage on the Never list. I might as well have.
I met my husband while living in Atlanta. And yes, I freaking HATED Atlanta. I only took the job there because it was the biggest city I got an offer in, and I am a city girl, and would have a better chance of meeting an intelligent well-educated mate in a big city.
So, I found one. I got married. We decided we wanted a child. My parents still live in Alabama. My husband’s parents are deceased. We wanted our child to get to know their only living grandparents. So we found a job in, yes, God help me, Alabama, to be close to the folks. Lesson learned: Family always trumps Never List.
We decided after about a year to try to get pregnant. I figured, well, I’m 36, I’ve never been pregnant, and most of the patients I had who tried to conceive for the first time in their 30’s usually didn’t fare so well. I figured it would take at least a year, and then we might have to go the infertility route. I felt fairly comfortable I would not have to deal with motherhood any time soon.
I got pregnant the first freaking month off my birth control pills. We had a baby girl. And she was COLICKY. GOD AWFUL colicky. Enough to put my sanity in jeopardy, and to require consultations with her pediatrician. I was breast feeding, because of course, that is the best thing for both mother and baby, and one of the things we considered as a cause of her ungodly screaming was possible lactose intolerance. Soy milk. Soy milk. Did I mention that I started drinking soy milk? I will admit to eating a little crow here – the stuff is pretty good. It’s sweet, and tastes like vanilla. Know what else? It didn’t help the freaking colic ONE BIT.
When my daughter was 8 months old, the lease ran out on my beautiful Porsche. When I bought it, pre-husband, I had planned to buy it when it came off lease, and maybe retrofit it with a roll cage and a fire extinguisher and try a little track racing. Enter the husband, who hated my car. His hemorrhoidal butt hurt with each road-hugging move of the shocks, which are designed to help you feel the road, not your hemorrhoids. Enter the husband, who could squeeze a nickel until it bled to death, who found it obscenely unseemly that I was making car payments of the magnitude that I was. He made me get rid of my beautiful car. And he bought me a Mini. Van. I tried to console myself with the fact that it was a beautiful shade of red, and had 16 cupholders. I mean, that was cool, right? I remember reading an article in a parenting magazine by a guy who said he didn’t want to be the one with the bald head bobbing in time to Green Day, driving a minivan. At least I am not bald.
I had always envisioned that the Mommy Look thing would extinguish itself soon out of toddlerhood. My daughter is almost 9, and daily my whirling attempts at efficiency in running the household are interrupted dozens of times by “Mommy, LOOK!” And I am grateful that I have a good husband, and a healthy smart sweet daughter, don’t get me wrong, but the Mommy Looks make me bugsucking nuts. I guess she stops saying it when she doesn’t care what I think, and then we have bigger problems.
So, Readers. Never say never. You will eat those words. Daily. And kick yourself in your own butt with your shoe. Because you were either being narrow-minded and the Never thing is OK, or you were right in the first damn place and you should have kept your big Never mouth shut. So Never. Say. Never. And since that sentence now places me in Karmic doom to be destined to repeat Never again and again and eat it again and again, perhaps I will change my statement. ALMOST never say never, unless you really really have to because someone is aiming a weapon at you. Otherwise, leave things the hell alone.