Friday, August 06, 2010

GUEST BLOG POST: For Whom the "Horrormones" Toll - by Lena Carpelan

An inveterate and vocal non mother, I embarked upon unchartered waters, eating a healthy portion of crow as well as folic acid, the year I found my first gray hair.

I had been proud to be different. When other little girls played with dolls and said they wanted to grow up to be mommies, I took my father’s wood carving knife, cut a hole in the rubber forehead of my doll, and said I wanted to be a surgeon.

My medical career aspirations were rapidly shelved when it dawned on me that real people spurt blood. But though not doctor material, neither did I morph into a mommy wannabee.

Who needed demanding and ubiquitous offspring; little bundles of raw, untamed DNA with all the faults and demerits that their parents had worked hard to conquer in themselves?

During my roaring twenties, life was full. Carl, my husband, and I had satisfying careers. My house flowed in hues of peach and cream. I was self confident and indefatigable. Around me, contemporaries struggled with potty training and temper tantrums as I smiled, condescending and marveling at their ineptitude. How could these capable professionals find raising their rambunctious progeny such a challenge?

But when I turned thirty, biology tauntingly struck. Perhaps it was my punishment for having recently asked Bob and Anne, parents of three elementary-aged children, if Carl and I could have a party at their house. We wanted to invite several couples for supper whom we liked very much, but who had the unfortunate flaw of having produced several smelly children. “Your house is already destroyed,” I had pleaded, sure they would understand, “so you wouldn’t mind having children over, would you?”

Like uninvited guests, empty uterus and empty life syndrome burst into my life without knocking.

Horrormones delivered a maelstrom of longing. I found myself noticing pregnant women, wondering what they were thinking, feeling. My insouciant attitude was no more as a dumbstruck Carl and I discussed my sudden insanity.

Gradually, it dawned on us that life might be full, but it was full of us, and “us” was boring and selfish. Would we slowly grow old, lonely, looking more and more like the dog, incapable of speaking of nothing more interesting but that the deli had been out of Carl’s favorite pastrami this week?

In time, biology won--parenthood came--and with it the rich tapestry of delight, despair, humility, joy, exasperation, surprises, laughter, and love. Its experiences cannot be purchased or imagined—they are the property of parents alone. It is the most thrilling adventure, albeit a messy one, known to man.

Several years ago, Bob called us.

“Anne and I have a favor to ask,” he said slyly. “Now that the children have moved out, we’ve purchased new living room furniture, but we’d like to have a party for several families with young children. Could we have it at your house? After all, it’s already destroyed.”

I heard him roaring with laughter as he hung up.

Lena Carpelan is the author of The Adventures of the Blackberry Hill Kids (, a humorous “insider look” at a Swedish-American family with three lively rapscallions who cheerfully romp through life as their valiant, rapidly aging parents try to keep order in the midst of chaos. Visit her lighthearted, sometimes poignant blog

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