Wednesday, April 4, 2007
Life had become overwhelming. I truly believed the children had fed my cleverness to the cat, which explained why the cat puked on my Swiffer every day for a solid week. I mean, a cat has to have boundaries, and Jack could only take so much of my singing and talking to him as if he was human before he dropped his cookies on the only clean surface in the kitchen. The solitude of motherhood had gotten to me.
Of course, this sentiment only makes sense to mothers losing the battle for career-motherhood balance. You've seen us I'm sure. We're at the salon having our roots done, carrying the ass-end of another Britney's-gone-nuts conversation while text messaging the evening schedule of family counseling and cupcake baking to our husbands. All the while, our subconscious grasps desperately for one profound, original thought—or perhaps just a small recollection of something grown-up, like the Periodic Table of Elements.
One day, studies will prove that flex-time work plus full-time motherhood stunts brain cells. I'm amazed that an NBC celebrity hasn't done a public-service announcement informing us of this information sooner, because this season of our lives is, in fact, a very special edition of "Mr. Belvedere," that inane '80s sitcom.
Or perhaps this is what happens when a chick's social interaction is limited to homework time with children and "The Oprah Winfrey Show," which tells us to value the seasons of our lives for what they are.
I made a crisis call to my best good friend MF right before the anniversary of my 29th birthday. I needed educated, adult conversation, and I needed it right now. I had no business calling her with what was merely a typical southern-woman meltdown considering she had been in pre-term labor for eleventy-four weeks. Yes, she's due to give birth to the first girl baby of our entourage, but this baby girl was pushing early for her dramatic entry into this world.
Now, I love a baby and all, but we're starting to resent her overeager schedule. This little snit wants to ring our doorbell while we are still in pantyhose and hair rollers, and she's ready to point an innocent finger at our laissez-faire hostess skills. I can hear her now, "Oh Momma and Aunt Emily, it's just too sweet of y'all to go dressing me up in my big brother's hand-me-downs on my very first day in this whole, big world." She might as well say, "Oh Momma and Aunt Emily, this cake is so good that Daddy would never know you picked it up on the way home from the spa today." We think she's going to be an eyelash-batter for sure.
I told MF that I was in grave need of her intellect; I feared I'd fallen into the "bell jar," and I pleaded for assistance. I crossed my fingers and legs, since my most recent appeals for her interaction only garnered the statement, "Honey, if it doesn't involve my uterus or my money, I'm afraid I have nothing to offer." Our precious MF had found herself in a chaotic parallel universe, being responsible for her home an hour from Jackson, her toddler's education at Magnolia Speech School, gestation and modified bed rest. Her mind was even more scattered than mine, and I caught her trying to deal with the doctor's ultimatum: hospitalization until the due date or convalescence at a home with a licensed driver while she took medication to stop her contractions.
It was my cue. Finally, an educated adult would be with me during daylight hours. The bonus daughter and I scurried to the kitchen to whip up a quick cheese plate along with strawberries and chocolate. I fluffed the good couch pillows, placed a pitcher of ice water on the end table, and prepared to discuss quantum physics and the power of positive thinking. This would be the perfect time for us to get started on that play we planned to co-author—brilliant themes and one-liners were sure to abound.
We timed MF's contractions to ensure the medication was slowing baby diva down. During the first hour, the phone rang seven times, the doorbell three, my son announced, "Look what I can do!" 13 times, and the bonus daughter asked us 21 questions. Right after the cat puked, again, it was time for dinner. As soon as Mr. Steam Jeans walked in the door from work, he announced he would spend the evening doing taxes. Sigh.
So we made the rational decision, contractions and all, to get birthday sushi. We dropped the top on the convertible for our small vacation, stopping for Mr. Steam Jean's red meat on the way. At the first window, our cashier asked if he could ride with us on such a starry, beautiful night. I pointed to my friend and asked, "Are you willing to hold her hand through labor while she yells and curses?"
"Sure," he said. "I live with my mom. I'm used to crazy white women."
I see this young man smile at us; he's genuine and makes us laugh. My girlfriend and I are spending our season as crazy, overwhelmed women, but in that moment, I know we are where we're supposed to be. Someday, our kids may recall us fondly to strangers with polite admiration for our sacrifices. Someday, we'll have more memories between us than children, and we'll finish many, many books and plays. And way down the road, we might have a great deal of dementia, and that's when the circle will go unbroken.
Bless our children's hearts.
MF had the baby this morning. Going forward, all references to this baby girl will be "Mary Braden." 7 pounds, 15 ounces and totally gorgeous. That snot. Making me miss therapy and everything ;) I blogged about this glorious day, but I feel it's much too inappropriate for public consumption. On the way to the hospital, I listened to women's talk radio discussing the 1960's college educated "madwife." Thanks a lot "Women Aloud." Like I wasn't feeling scattered enough.
Oh the screams of motherhood and all the insanity that accompanies it. Every woman that has the crown of motherhood knows of what you speak. We all wonder at some point while we have a dirty diaper in one hand, a baby on our hip squeezing our breat for dear life, Is this all there is? Is this what I aspired to be and do? Walking passed a mirror only to catch a profile of someone we don't know. Remembering days of leisure at the pool, being beautiful without makeup and no one telling us they were hungry or I had an accident. But then when your children are grown and self sufficient you long for a task. Something to make you feel needed and important. It'strange how life plays these games. I can say that you will at some point get some resemblance of a life back. Never what it once was but close. The most important thing (your right) is the memories you make along the way. What might seem like an impossible situation now will be full of laughter one day. Take a deep breath... now exhale! Repeat if necessary!