My fantasy that once I got my boobs and bed back this motherhood gig would be a breeze isn’t exactly panning out.
The other day J asked, “Mama, how do people get made?”
And I thought I had a good answer, “Everybody grows in their mommy’s tummy until they’re big enough to be born.”
"But," he countered, “what about the first babies? How did there get to be babies before there were any mommies?”
Now, I never expected to have to have a conversation of this nature with a four year old. I mean it’s difficult enough to discuss the chicken and the egg with adults over a cappuccino, let alone with a preschooler over a Juicy Juice. If you’re going to discuss the origin of life, if not some Peyote, at the very least some caffeine is in order, no?
More importantly, “handling the origin of life questions” is explicitly part of my husband’s job description (I have the contract right here), but (inconveniently) he was at work during this conversation. So in his absence I gave it my best shot, but nothing I said was satisfying J and so finally I just fell back on the handy “God made the first mommies.” We were both pleased and I’m sure God saw that it was good.
But then I had to fess up to my husband, who was not impressed. Listen, I never promised I could teach our kids molecular biology. In fact I told my husband that I was going to blog about evolution and he said, “Oh my god, you’re totally going to embarrass yourself and me. Don’t do it!”
I bore the man two beautiful children and this is how he talks to me. But he has his reasons. You see anytime the topic of evolution has come up I’ve furrowed my brow and said, “I dunno… seems a little far-fetched to me.”
And he’s always responded by saying, “Are you some kind of religious nut?”
And I’m not, but I’ve always thought that some day science would come up with a better explanation... one that made sense. So I tried to defend my answer to J.
Me: Well… I just don’t see how blah blah blah could happen… it just doesn’t make sense.
Husband: What? Of course blah blah blah could never happen. That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard!
Me: See! That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you!
Husband: But that has nothing to do with the theory of evolution.
Me: Well what is it then?
Husband: …Truly blah blah blah… therefore blah blah blah…and henceforth and ever after blah blah blah.
Me (shrug): Really? Well that makes sense. I can totally see how that might happen.
And there was much eye rolling. And the gatekeeper at atheist heaven prepared a special room for my husband for dutifully winning souls to the kingdom of science.
Now I suppose you’re wondering how I managed to live for thirty-six years (and graduate from college, for crying out loud) without learning the theory of evolution? Perhaps because while my ninth grade classmates were learning biology, I was writing random quotes and observations (and drawing cartoons to match, which have sadly been lost) in my notebook:
Hey, can I help it that somehow I already knew I was destined to be nothing more than a navel-gazer? By the way, the last paragraph on this high school days exhibit says, “She’s not a tribute to the American education system.” Oh the irony!
Of course, now it’s too late for me, so back to the task of screwing up my kids. I asked my husband how, exactly, he thought he would explain what he’d just explained to me in a way that would make sense to a four year old, and he couldn’t come up with a good answer either. So here we are. Not winning the “parents of the year” award. Hoping J forgets all about the dreaded chicken/egg dilemma until ninth grade and then just asks his biology teacher.