26 March 2013

We need to talk about bugs...and our marriage.

A few nights ago something happened. And it's taken me a while to be able to talk about it.

While asleep, I felt something on my back and tried to brush it off. It didn't budge so I had to yank it. Then it got stuck to my hand, which I immediately started flapping all over to shake the thing off. By this time I was making panicked grunts. Adam woke up when he heard this something finally fly off my hand and hit the wall. I turned on the light and there. it. was.

Okay, not this exact spider, but this is one from our house. Adam would say it wasn't this big, but he doesn't read Mama Congo, so I can say it was. And it felt 5x this big.

I assumed Adam would jump up to kill it. He didn't. Fighting my gag reflex, I told him he had to. He started making excuses about not having his glasses and said by the time he found them the spider would be gone. So there's no point in even trying. This is actually what he says to me. Adam, we need to talk about our marriage.

I have the babies, you kill the spiders. This is all I ask. In the middle of the night, after a seriously traumatic event, this turned into an actual, emotional conversation. And this is not the first time we've had this "You do bugs, I do babies" talk. I was still mad the next morning. 

Lots of people ask about the bug life in the Congo. My sister, for example, refuses to visit due to the existence of spiders alone. I explain that a human is approximately 3 times bigger than most bugs here, so it's mind over matter. Until there's, say for example, one stuck to your back.

Now children, go stand by the termite mound.

I like our Congo bugs in the proper context. We currently have 3 very large spiders on the outside of our porch. They've made a massive web that I will tolerate because I've convinced myself it catches a lot of mosquitoes. And birds and rodents if they get too close. Charlotte loves these spiders and counts them every morning. She matter-of-factly says, "1, 2, 3 spiders. Because I'm three-years-old." Obviously.

These bugs can also be beautiful. At night along the path behind our house, if you have your headlamp on just right, you can see tons of glitter in the grass. It's really amazing until you realize the glitter is spider eyes. I kid you not. It's the most beautifully disturbing phenomenon ever.

Once, long before the children came along, we were off on a camping trip in Congo. (Because who goes camping after you have children? Gross.) I stepped on a pile of army ants and they locked themselves into me. These are the same ants they use as sutures. It hurt like crazy. At the time I remember thinking, I wonder if child birth is worse than this?  Good thing I didn't know, I would have never had children.

Safari ants, literally.

Bugs really are a losing battle. We've completely given up on the millions of ants all over our house, it's indoor millipede season all year long, and we've only found a snake in our house one time. I can deal with these things.

Recently Charlotte started waking up in the middle of the night and crawling into our bed. This makes no sense. She's worlds best sleeping child. We were stumped. Until one night when Adam slept in her bed (probably because he was in trouble again over his bug duties) and figured out why she had been waking up. He found cockroaches crawling all over him. He actually caught a couple as evidence.

Charlotte's bed? No, just the very authentic cockroach exhibit in the "Africa" section of the Chicago Zoo.

That's some good parenting. We had been bribing her to stay in her bed all night with the promise of dinosaurs, stickers and fanfare the next morning. She didn't fall for it. Smart girl. Miserable nights all because she's not old enough to explain, "Excuse me dear parents, but there are cockroaches in my bed."

This is the type of stuff that will all come out in therapy or our children's memoirs someday. Listen kids, you seemed pretty happy when we regularly pulled half-chewed millipedes out of your mouth. See how much we love you?

P.S. I didn't even mention Mango Worms. Ya know, the kind you pull out of your skin.


  1. I absolutely adore this post. It should be published in some fancy magazine, either parenting or travel or marriage. Really.

    The termite hill caption is perfect.

  2. Oh, so the nets over the beds should really be called roach nets, not mosquito nets?!? Please do not mention who asked the sweet little girls to go pose by the impressive termite hill (but perhaps this sheds light on Adam's laissez faire approach to bugs).

  3. Ya know, the kind Amanda pulled 13 out of me...

  4. Oh man, thanks for all the great comments! Jennifer Jo, means a ton coming from you. And Sara Rich, I'm pretty sure you still own the record for most-mango-worms-extracted-in-one-sitting.

  5. I have no desire to visit Africa after having read The Flame Trees of Thika - you know, the part where she explains that they had to sleep with the legs of the bed immersed in wide cans of water, so that the ants couldn't get to you at night and EAT YOUR EYEBALLS?


  6. I sure am glad I had forgotten about the mango worms when I visited! Give me spiders and snakes any day!

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