Saturday, June 18, 2011

Octomom on my shoulder

It took me being called Octomom to snap out of it.  There I was in a puddle of my own doing, crying over my last baby graduating Kindergarten when a voice whispered to know, it's not too late....
I could have another baby, I could delay this transitional pain, I could just very well postpone it to another day.
It could happen.
I am after all newly 40 and fit, love being a Mom, do it well most days and hope to the heavens my kids forget the days I don't.  It could happen.  Why not??

As I mulled this over, gnashing it about in my head I made the mistake of actually saying it out loud.  My girlfriend, who has known me since I was a child, practically screamed at me, her words shaking me at the keyboard- "ARE YOU CRAZY???!!! DON'T YOU KNOW YOU ARE ALMOST THERE??? YOU CAN SEE THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL FOR CHRISTSAKES!!! VACATIONS ON THE BEACH! NO RESPONSIBILITIES! KNOCK IT OFF OCTOMOM!!!!!"

That did it.  At the same time repelled by the comparison while completely understanding it, I saw the reflection in the mirror.  And I didn't like it.  Nope.  Not one bit.

I consulted my Midwife friend who has grown children of her own but also gets to hold delicious babies on a daily basis.  I asked her, "does this feeling ever go away??  The I could syndrome?"
"Never" she says.
"Welcome to womanhood" she says with a laugh.
I do not find her funny.

I think I have amnesia.  You know how women get amnesia about labor?  I get it with the early years.  I have completely glossed over the sleepless nights, breast infections, toddlers running around your ankles so fast you are sure they are an inch away from running into traffic.  I forget my exhaustion, the balancing act, the doing 17 things at once to keep all from the brink of some imagined disaster.  I especially forget the seemingly endless thrown up food particles in my hair.

What I do remember is all that has filled me up.  I remember the dead of night, sitting silently by the Christmas tree nursing my Son, the only sound, his burroughed contentment against me.  I remember first words and first steps, the joy of seeing snow for the first time, the undiluted giggles of, well, everything.
It's a freakin Hallmark movie in my head.

I don't think I am done.  That is what the little Octomom on my shoulder tells me.  "Nooo, you are not" she insists.  My husband and she fight often.  They surely would not sit next to each other at the Thanksgiving table.
Because he remembers.
He does not don the rose colored glasses Octomom and I stylishly wear.
He pays the bills, the bills we can barely pay now.

"But couldn't we"....she nudges back as she passes the gravy to him.
"No we can't" he says.
"No we won't" he says as he struggles not to throw the gravy boat at her.

Husband is right.  We don't have it in us.  We have this wonderful, crazy, joyful family, this total full plate and as much as I want to put one more piece of pie on it I know my stomach would be churning within minutes.
Isn't that how it is though?  We always think we should have more of what is good.  My inner Octomom struggles with the boundaries nature has placed upon my body, spirit, emotional capacity and finances.

And let us not forget at the end of the day what looms; gasp-- the next phase I am slowly with each passing year inching towards.  One where dinner does not need to be made, laundry does not need to be folded, permission slips do not need to be signed.  Even though I may as well be decades away from that moment it is still there, beckoning me, telling me that now is not forever, all roads are not endlessly open or mine.

Appreciation and gratitude are what brings me down the river.  Like that beautiful flower you place in a vase, you know it's wonder will not be there but for a moment.  All of which makes the intoxicating smell, uniqueness and awe of it demand to be enjoyed for the time that it graces your table.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The ride is everything

Adolescence waits for me as I open my eyes.  She snickers as I place my optimistic feet on the ground.  Oh no, you will not have her today she cackles in my ear.  My daughter already up, is straightening her hair; her beautiful, long curly hair, she straightens.  She grunts an acknowledgement and continues on her task.  I conjure up my cheeriest greeting.  It is met with an octopus-like disdain.  I cringe as it's tentacles wrap around both our throats and our steps, stopping our voices and blocking our path to a peaceful morning.

There is much I want to tell her this morning. 
 I want to tell her to: wear sunscreen/pack a good lunch/maybe the skirt is a wee bit short?/don't forget to empty the dishwasher/boys respect girls who say no/is this your math folder?/cherish your friends/too much mascara is a dangerous thing/and please let the dog out.

We don't get much past the sunscreen.

I internally do my morning routine of tug of war -do I let go/do I hold tight- as I pour my tea.  She starts to tell me something about her day and I concentrate like a gambler betting it all with my poker face.  I hardly hear her story as the internal dialogue is the bomb squad talking me not smile, no sudden moves, only look in her eyes at key phrases...too much raise of the eyebrows and the bomb will explode and chaos will ensue.

Like a ransom call I will do whatever I can to keep her talking.

I find there is comfort in numbers.  If I could not vent to my friends who walk this shrouded way with me I'd surely start the day with rum in my tea.  How else to cope with losing your child?  She will come back yes, but when?  And who will she be?  I loved her when she was at my breast, when she screamed in the cereal aisle, when she dug for worms until the sun went down.  I love her still.  But there is a tinge of red in this water break.  It is a rebirth where nothing warm will be placed next to your heart.

My heart aches for her.  I see the clutches Adolescence has her in.  Adolescence doesn't care.  To her it's nothing personal.  She gets around that Adolescence.  I hear her in dressing rooms, restaurants, school concerts.  She is everywhere.  And wherever she is is a teenager with her head spinning around her shoulders and a Mother looking like she was just punched in the stomach.

When those moments arrive I try hold unto something. 
A picture.  A memento.  The counter. 
 Like an awful roller coaster ride I know I will be back down to the bottom eventually but the ride is still going to make me puke.  I see myself at the top, frozen in fear, unable to do anything but scream primal as loud as my lungs permit.  There is always someone on that same ride with you after yelling and clutching seems to accept that there is nothing to be done.  You both chose to be on this ride, you both knew the drop was coming.  But these people, they actually smile, as if to say what goes up must come down, hang on but also enjoy the ride.  I am not one of these people.  I am still mastering my clutch.  But each day I try that much harder to laugh at my lurching stomach and think how lucky I am to even be on this ride.

It's the only thing that gets me back down to the bottom.