“When you’ve got kids, it’s like you won the lottery,” a man once said to me. When my first daughter, Enna, was born three years ago, I felt a shock of pure joy that hit me in the solar plexus, the same spot where crushing loneliness used to snatch my breath away in my single days. Each night I go to bed happy because I know I’ll see her and her seven-month-old sister, Athena, in the morning (or, let’s be honest—I’ll see at least one of them sometime around 2:30AM). If the sky were falling, if the world were ending, this is what I would seek: the deep, oceanic pleasure of loving a kid, of being loved back.
It’s just all those moments before the sky falls that I need to figure out. Because, as my husband will tell you, I have a gift for complaining, and it has only grown since I got the one thing I always truly wanted: kids.
I whine about my fourth-floor walkup, my lack of dishwasher, my sleep-striking three-year-old, the constant fountain of spit-up from the baby, the fatigue, the frustration, the continually regenerating pile of laundry, the heart disease I must surely be developing since I haven’t exercised in 14 months, and the fear that I will pass on my gratitude-deficiency and my myriad other attitude problems to my kids. Right now, I’m complaining about how much I complain. And while I realize the incredible luxury of this litany of complaints—I’ve got a good roof over my head and enough money to pay the rent—my biggest grievance is about the thing my new and fortunate life is missing the most: me.