A New Day
Think it's too much to put on a t-shirt to wear to BlogHer? Because I'm seriously considering it.
I've gotten a lot of food for thought from all of you over the past few days, and considering how little time for thought I've had, I appreciate that you're all feeding me. Or something like that. I'm still a little tired from the redeye last night to create metaphors that make much sense outside of my own brain.
What I'd really like to do is email each and every one of you with a gushing, girlie, Emily Post-sanctioned note of heartfelt thanks. Every comment posted deserves at least that much. But if I did, that would be like six less hours I have in my day and I'm already just a wee bit taxed. Please understand. Also know that I have read every single comment more than once, as has my mother, who wants to invite you all over for Thanksgiving dinner and feed you pie.
As many of you said, I had a bad day. Those words were racing through my head most of yesterday: It's just a bad day. Tomorrow will be a better one. And just as I was thinking that--I swear, I'm not making this up--that You've Had a Bad Day song came on the radio. And once again that proverbial light bulb went on over my head and I realized things could be so much worse.
I could be that guy who sings that crappy ass song.
I could be that guy who struggled his whole life to make it, and when he finally landed a hit, landed it with a song so heinous, he will forever be known as the guy who wrote the song that made millions of people want to gouge out their eardrums and run shrieking from the room.
So there's that.
Back home in New York now with a black and white milkshake from the diner, and the baby happily playing with some choking hazard or another next to me, things are already inordinately better. And other things have become inordinately clearer.
You see, the whole 101 aspect of Mom-101 is more than just a funny "new mom" thing.
I never knew whether I would have children or not. At 34 I was still single, not ever imagining that I would meet a man "in time." Or at least not a man who'd stick around long enough to impregnate me. And I had mostly come to terms with it, but not entirely. Not because I was desperate to be a mom. More because I hate hate HATE more than anything being told what I cannot do. Tell me I can't sing, I will sing every chance I get. Tell me I can't go to Kirsten Silverstein's house after school because her mom lets her smoke pot, that's where you'll find me. Tell me I can't climb Everest--well, I will not climb Everest. But I will resent you and maybe say a few catty things about you behind your back.
So whether or not I wanted a kid was besides the point. I just wanted that choice.
And then I fell in love with a man who desperately wanted a family. And it freaked the shit out of me to be actually presented with the opportunity. I remember the turning point: a work-sponsored boondoggle to the Magic Kingdom two years ago, where magic is evidently shorthand for children screaming or crying or whining or hitting their sisters. I became lost in a sea of weary, sweaty moms, each mechanically muttering, stop hitting your sister don't put that in your mouth no you can't have another churro because I said so that's why and thought, is this what it's all about? And if so, I can't do this. I don't see myself pushing a sticky rented stroller through Fantasyland in August heat, while wearing plaid Bermuda shorts that come up to my JC Penny bra. But I had a partner who I knew wanted children, and I wanted him.
My heart raced and my palms got damp and I wasn't quite sure I could stand any more. I collapsed onto a mercifully nearby bench, blurting, "I don't know if I can do this. I don't know that I can be a mom. But I know how important it is to you and I don't know what to do."
We sat together in silence for a moment as Nate processed the information I had just spilled on him like a cup of scalding coffee. He handed me a cool Poland Spring from his backpack and I took a sip, then pressed the bottle to my forehead.
"Well," he said at last, "if I have to spend the rest of my life with just one person, I'm glad it will be you."
And with that, the burden lifted. There was just me and this man who I loved and no pressure at all. It was at that moment I knew I was ready--not specifically to be a mom. But to start becoming a family.
[you know what happens next]
So now we've got this kid you see, and I love her like nothing in the world. I love her so much it hurts and I know it's a cliche, but God it's a good one. I finally understand why mothers don't care about the baby food stains on their clothes or the leaky bottles in their purses. And certainly not the dirty noses. Though I've got to admit, I'm blindsided by the entire thing. Didn't see it coming. Not one bit.
I told my boss through my whole pregnancy, "don't worry. I'm coming back. And I'll be willing to work even more when I do, that's how committed I am to this job."
The 101 in Mom-1o1? It doesn't mean that being a mom is new to me. It means that even the idea of being a mom is new to me.
Some people have their whole lives to get ready for motherhood. Hell, Nate tells me that when he was young and Mormon, the girls learned songs in preschool about wanting to grow up and be mommies. Me? I only had nine months to get ready. After more than 30 years of not being ready, that hardly seems enough.
It's going take some effort to figure out the balance between my old life and my new one, especially since someone forgot to give me that whole working mother manual when I left the hospital. Or maybe I never figure it out at all. Maybe the best I can do is to learn to accept the compromises a little better. To acknowledge that, as so many of you pointed out, you miss some stuff, but you're there for some other stuff. Or as my mother pointed out, that she'll have plenty of other things to hate me for in fifteen years, but traveling for three days in April will just not be one of them.
But somehow, with time and effort and probably a bit more venting, I'm going to figure out how make everything work.
Don't tell me I can't.