like their giggles on the lawn
vibrant – just like them
I’ll sit and look at this space
and remember this
I love the movie Hope Floats. It’s one of my favorites, particularly for the moment where the main character says, “You know, I always thought I was gonna be, I don’t know, special. But I’m not. I’m just… I’m just an ordinary person.”
Because I relate to that moment. I live in that moment. I am that moment.
I think one of the hardest things about getting older is that very realization. At least for me. Maybe it’s not for everyone. Madonna probably never felt that way. But I do.
It’s not that I think I’m worthless or empty or meaningless. It’s just that I’m not extraordinary. Well, not to anyone beyond my family. My husband thinks I’m extraordinary. My kids do, too. But their perception is colored with love. And the sugar buzz that comes from the cookies I make them. According to the rest of the world, I’m average. And that’s okay. Most of the time.
There are some days, I wish I was more. Better.
For the past 8 months, I’ve been teaching on Monday mornings. Today, I’m not. I had only taught 30 Mondays out of the 1,716 or so I’ve lived. Maybe it’s silly, but I’m heartbroken. I guess that’s a testament to how much it meant to me. Even Dave’s offer to wake up with the girls to give me a sleep-in day couldn’t make up for what I was missing. All it gave me was the privacy to have a little cry.
I still teach on Saturday. In fact, one of my Monday students will now be coming on Saturday and I even have some new kids starting my new session this weekend. But, I can’t help but feel like a failure for the ones that chose not to come back.
If only my skill for teaching matched my love for doing it.
Maybe it’s not simply the realization that I’m ordinary that’s hard to accept. It’s the fact that I’m ordinary despite my best efforts.
There’s a strange comfort in the delusion that, “I could do it if I applied myself.” There’s no comfort whatsoever in, “I did my best and it wasn’t enough.”
I did my best and it wasn’t enough. Fuck. That sucks.
I’m putting The Immaculate Collection on shuffle and doing a fake Madonna concert in my bathroom.
I received a haircut I absolutely love last week. I had it done while I was out of town for my baby doctor appointment, so the stylist was new to me, but her name was Leslie and that made me like her right away. And she met all of my hair stylist criteria, which are the following:
Do you have a regular hair stylist or do you just go wherever, whenever you can get in?
I am almost 16 weeks pregnant. I am still nursing Lucy.
Most people don’t really care about this, but those who do seem to subscribe to one of two schools of thought on the subject:
1. I am a saint and a martyr and YOU GO GIRL!
2. I am an evil monster trying to kill my baby and DON’T LEAVE HER ALONE WITH THE BABY WHEN IT IS BORN, SHE MIGHT EAT IT!
Today, at my baby doctor appointment, the subject came up. The nurse I spent about an hour chatting with and giving blood to was a graduate of school number two. She instructed me to STOP NURSING AT ONCE FOR THE SAKE OF MY UNBORN CHILD! My doctor, however, felt differently. I am sure there are laws or at least a lawyer advising her against calling me a monster and suggesting I am desirious of cannibalistic activity, but she genuinely seemed to feel as if what I was doing was okay. She said I was in good health and there’s no reason a woman in good health and with good nutrition cannot nurse while she is pregnant.
She did say I may be motivated to stop in the second trimester because things will likely get uncomfortable. But, I explained to her: THEY ALREADY ARE.
The thing about nursing while pregnant is this: PAIN. PAIN! OH MY FUCKING GOODNESS, THE MOTHER-FUCKING PAIN! And if you think the f-word is vulgar, you know nothing of the pain I’m talking about. It makes fuck sound like hallelujah. Imagine red hot 10 gauge needles being inserted into your nipples until they poke through your back. And then imagine being suspending from those needles. It feels a little like that. But worse. Not while I’m nursing, but while I’m NOT nursing. Or if my breasts get cold. Or touched. Or looked at. Or not.
The heating pad is my best friend. I spend most of my time at home clutching it to my chest and moaning. And when I’m away from home, I’m just soldiering through it. No, I’m not coming on to you and I’m not a pervert – I am touching my breasts because of the pain. Oh for the love of all sugary treats, THE PAIN!
The truth is, I’m not a saint or a martyr. My reasons for continuing with nursing are 20% laziness and 30% cowardice and we all know saints and martyrs are pretty brave go-getters. And I’m not an evil monster, because the remaining 50% of my reasoning is made up of love for my children and the belief of what is best for them. Even the ones that can still fit in my uterus. I’m just a woman in pain. OH MY GOOD LORD, THE PAIN!!!
We had to hurry after T-ball practice, but we made it just in time to walk the halls and see each student’s artwork before they closed. Julia found a surprise on her piece: a first place ribbon.
“It’s made of paper,” she said. “It’s not a ribbon exactly.”
“It’s not the paper that matters, Honey. It’s what the paper means.”
“What does it mean?”
“Your art was the best in the class.”
“Isn’t third place best?”
“No, first place is best.”
“It seems like third place is better. It’s a bigger number.”
“No, that’s not how it works.”
“I’m proud of you, Julia.”
“Are you really sure first is best? It just doesn’t seem right, Mom.”
“I assure you Julia, first place is the best you can do. First place! It’s number one! It’s THE BEST.”
“So I was the best?”
“YES!” I shouted. “But don’t say it like that to other people because that sounds conceited. Just say you got first place.”
“Mom, first place is tricky.”
I made a special trip to the baby doctor yesterday because I just wasn’t feeling right. I was having some pain and discomfort and other symptoms that make me sound like a pharmaceutical commercial. I was pretty sure it was a urinary tract infection or impending death or something, so Dave left work early to come with me, just in case. Lucy wouldn’t have a ride home if I died, after all, and someone had to pick Julia up after school.
I sat in the waiting room next to an impatient and overdue pregnant woman who wanted to know how far along I was and did I know what I was having because she was there to find it if her baby was ready to come out already for the love of Christ! I just wanted to make sure my baby was okay and wasn’t a lizard eating me from the inside out. (Some pregnant lady advice: Don’t watch V.)
The nurse called my name. I peed in a cup. She took my temperature and my blood pressure. She peeked and palpated. She said she’d be back. I bounced my leg nervously. I’m not sure if it was involuntary or just my way of expressing my anxiety because we all know that’s the universal sign, next to finger drumming. But I was in a lone chair without a drumming surface, so I went with the leg bounce.
The nurse returned, looked at me cautiously and asked, “Leslie, what’s going on?”
I repeated my symptoms.
The nurse looked suspicious.
“Honey, everything looks fine.”
“Well, that’s good news.” Except it kind of made me a crazy person. What the hell was wrong with me?
“Would you feel better if we listened to the baby’s heartbeat?”
I told her yes. Because, OF COURSE.
She said she’d be back and this time, she brought the doctor whom I was not supposed to see, but ended up seeing because I guess they have a policy about sending crazy pregnant ladies out into the world without an official release from the doctor.
The doctor said she was concerned. She didn’t want me to leave without feeling as if my needs were met. We talked about my symptoms. We talked about my life. I spilled my guts about Julia’s tragic cavities and other worrisome issues.
Long story short: physically, I am fine except for one majorly embarassing, but minorly problematic woman issue. Emotionally? Whoooo boy! Basically, I need to calm down. Take it easy. Quit being neurotic. Take a chill pill and all that.
Then I got an ultrasound, and though it could not show whether or not my kid has inherited The Crazy, it did let me know that the child is alive, with a spine, and a beating heart. It is most likely not a lizard, although I think the baby looks like E.T. in the second picture.
Then I came home and Dave turned my computer off and confiscated my phone. I took a two and a half hour nap. The girls played outside and woke me up with fresh picked flowers. Dave
made ordered told my mother to order dinner.
I think I’ve been focusing on the wrong things. It might be time to reorganize my priorities.
Step 1: implement a daily two and a half hour nap.
So, I was pretty much a failure about sixteen different ways today, but the one I’m willing to tell you about is this one: Julia has two cavities. They’re teeny tiny! Just little wee ones! That’s what the hygenist told me as she tried to reconstruct my human form from the puddle I’d become on the floor.
You and I know she was just saying that because my crying was making everyone uncomfortable. Everyone knows that KID CAVITIES = PARENT FAIL. She’s either not brushing enough or eating too much sugar, right? Dental hygiene is pretty straight forward. Considering the kid is a tooth-brushing fiend, it’s got to be the cotton candy diet I’ve had her on, lately. (Note to self: find a new bribe.)
Julia suggested it was because of that one night – ONE NIGHT – when she was trying to come up with ANY excuse NOT to sleep and I told her, “You can skip it tonight” when she said she hadn’t brushed her teeth. But you’ve got to understand it was after 10 p.m. dammit and I was tired and I can’t go to sleep until she goes to sleep so TEETH SCHMEETH GO THE HELL TO SLEEP!!!!
The dentist said he understood.
You and I know he was judging me. When he made that note in her file, it probably read, “BAD MOTHER. ALSO, CRAZY. SAY NICE THINGS. SHE MAY BITE.”
My punishment is a follow-up appointment during which Julia’s cavities will be remedied while I sit on my hands, banished to the waiting room as I am not allowed to be there for the procedure. Something about my emotional outburst/psychotic episode at the cavity announcement made them think my presence wouldn’t be helpful.
The suggestion was made that perhaps Daddy should bring her to that appointment.
And then I died.