I, Shelby, am a control freak. I’ve known that since my 8-year-old self used to write plays and micromanage her friends into the parts she wrote for them and write them off when they didn’t follow suit. I recognized it when I would make up dances and persuade my cousins to perform with me for hours and hours in my parents’ basement instead of doing whatever they wanted to do. I’ve known it since I arranged my stuffed animals in a very specific order and could recognize instantly if Luke had moved even one of them. I knew it when I fell in love the with the computer game, The Sims, where I could control every aspect of someone’s life. I can feel it when Pat drives us anywhere because I have already mapped out each turn, lane change, and parking lot space in my head and he can’t even remember to change lanes before the first turn. It is apparent in most aspects of my life. Since I believe I think through every hypothetical situation in every single decision I make, I will always stupidly believe that my way of doing something is probably the best way.
I, Shelby, am also a lonely person, but not in the sad sense. I have always enjoyed being alone and doing things without company. I don’t usually like when people are in my space unless we are very close. I grew up wanting to travel the world by myself. I remember sitting on my mom’s lap and she asked me, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” I distinctly remember saying, “I want to study and travel,” all the while envisioning myself doing so ALONE. Shelby sitting on top of a mountain with no one around to push me off. But in all seriousness, I have always needed my space and my time away from people.
I, Shelby, have been pretty aware of how taxing a baby is on people. My brother and I were born 2 years apart, so I was obviously not aware of how hard that was on my parents. But Chanel was born 10 years after I came into the world and I lucidly remember how much work she was.
That stuck with me for a long, long time. The night wakings (she slept in my room), the making of the bottles, how many times I had to sing “Silent Night” to her to get her to sleep, finding her quirks like rubbing her forehead calmed her down, chasing her down the hallway, the changing of her diaper and wiping her butt when she was potty training, the screaming, the train whistle that almost killed her, and most importantly the amount of love. That weight. No, I did not love her like a mother or in any comparison to how much my mother loves her, but I remember my inner control freak spinning out because she was something out of my control and I love(d) her so damn much I just wanted her to be happy all of the time. Babies and little kids are happy like 30% of the time. This was hard for me.
I was also weirded out that I wanted her around all the time. This lonely Shelby suddenly had a stage 5 clinger and I didn’t mind. I was obsessed with her. She was my plaything, my shadow, my prodigy. Lonely 10-year-old Shelby didn’t really know what to make of this.
But as I got older, I was very sure that I didn’t want children. This selfish, control freak, lonely person was probably better off not raising kids because my personality didn’t follow suit and I really liked doing what I wanted when I wanted. I was aware of my selfishness.
Every boyfriend I had I never really envisioned kids with. It was too messy and I distance myself in a weird way at the beginning of relationships. Like we can hang out, but I need some time to figure you out so that I trust you fully.
My 20’s were so fast and furious and thoughtless. I enjoyed a large portion of them, but growing into myself was not an easy task. I assume for so many others it is a hard thing to come to terms with who you really are, especially when that person seems like a complete contradiction to the woman that she presented for so many years. I didn’t think a child would do very well with someone who didn’t even know how to be herself yet.
A baby is something I had thought about for a long time before I would even play with the notion of having one. I had made the decision not to have one and I don’t usually go back on a decision I’ve made simply because I have put so much time into the thought process and my final resolution. Also, I’m ungodly stubborn.
Then, I got Luna. Luna is a dog. Luna is my first dog. Luna changed the baby making game for me. A dog. A DOG YOU GUYS.
This puppy that I named Luna because she’s jet black, but hard to miss. Kind of like a light in the night similar to the moon. Kind of like this giant canine metaphor for the light that she shed on my future mom self.
She was adorable, needy, dirty, unpredictable, energetic, expensive, but mostly she became my baby. She was this little animal fur baby that wanted to hang out with me all the time and loved me so hard every time I came home. She shit all over my house, puked in my bed, period’ed all over my furniture, but I still loved her. How did I still love her so much?
Pat traveled a lot at this point, so it was Luna and me most of the time. I would get so excited to come home from work and cook her dinner. Yes, in the beginning, I COOKED her dinner. We would go on our evening walk and then hang out with Netflix. We ran around outside together and I kind of learned how to be at peace with myself because of her. I stopped thinking about me so much and started thinking about her.
I began thinking god damn this taking care of someone is so fulfilling and rewarding and gives me this warm feeling a lot of the time. I love taking care of her. I should have a baby.
Wait. A BABY? Did my mind just say that?
When that thought popped into my head we were on our walk and I stopped dead in my tracks. She turned around and looked at me and I was like “Sorry, I just thought a ridiculous thought and needed a short break to wrap my head around my head, Luna. But, also, should I have a baby?”
That was that. I decided by the time we got home that I was ready. I wanted to do this. I had gone back on my 26-year decision to never reproduce. All the pros and cons, all the angst, all the time I had put into this decision got thrown to the wind because of a puppy.