Lucky

I avoid pregnant women.

 

It’s not a superstition.  I’m not afraid the condition is “catchy”.

 

I do it because I don’t want to ruin it for them.  I don’t trust myself not to go into visceral detail, listing off the maladies I suffered during those 10 months (9 months of pregnancy is the single greatest fallacy foisted on humankind.)  I don’t always believe I can hold my face in a way that conveys happiness, when I’m around a pregnant woman, because for me, pregnancy was the opposite of happy.  It’s not that I run screaming from pregnant women; I just don’t seek them out, and when I find myself near them, it feels vaguely wrong.

 

The first couple of months of my first baby’s life weren’t a whole lot sunnier.  Nothing came naturally.  The mythical “instincts” peddled to me in reference manuals failed to materialize.  Sleep deprivation drove me to a brink I hadn’t known existed.

 

I was pretty sure I was failing.  That was humiliating.  And so it became increasingly easier to isolate, to convince myself I was the only one going through this.  In my small (shrinking, at that time) world, I really was the only one going through it.  I eschewed the “Mom’s Groups”, became suddenly engrossed in checking my child’s diaper when I spotted other parents at parks, closed the blinds a lot.

 

Of course, I wasn’t the only one.  There were other moms in the city, in 2004, who were doing a lot of what I was doing.  There were moms who lived across the country, sleepless at the exact same time as me.

 

I just didn’t know any of them.

 

And even now, on the other side, knowing what I know?  I’m kind of glad I didn’t know them.

 

Because I would have wrecked it.

 

What would have come out of my mouth as my wild insecurities, would have entered their ears as judgement.  My desperation would have driven off all but the most equally desperate, creating a vortex of neediness that would have dragged us all under together.  The gravity of my situation would have led to needless comparison, one-upmanship, that would have eroded any kind of tenuous relationship I could have cobbled together.

 

Time, fate, life.  They did their thing.

 

Made me put one foot in front of the other.  Made me survive, strengthen, thrive.

 

Led me into a neighborhood, one whose school I never even considered in the move.

 

Put The Boy in a preschool class, where there were moms who smiled back, and didn’t click their tongues in disapproval at my obvious deficiencies in parenting.

 

Slowly gave me the confidence to talk , throw out comments just to see who would laugh, who “got it”.  Who was on my team.

 

The team is surprisingly big.

 

And nobody on the team gives a crap who breastfed, who used disposable diapers, who potty-trained their progeny by 18 months, who was a co-sleeper, a baby-wearer, an immunizer.

 

I still have to shake my head, to believe that over a dozen of these women, women I genuinely Like, women who are shiny and wonderful, can sit at a table, and drink, and laugh to the point of tears, and confess parenting missteps.

 

And know it’s OK.

 

If I hadn’t talked to them, tentatively smiled at them.  If I hadn’t set my heart on the stained glass in my front door, thereby (unwittingly) choosing the school The Boy would attend.  If I hadn’t failed to refill a prescription in the week that I did.

 

 

Yes.  I do know how lucky I got.

 

 

(Image is Shine on me by supermummy)

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44 responses to “Lucky

  1. I’m going to nail a copy of this post right next to where I keep my birth control pills.

    But congratulations all the same!

  2. That reminds me, two more weeks and we get ours.

  3. Great post. I want some of those friends. Most of the ones over here fall in the creepily perfect from the outside category.

  4. Wonderfully written. Thank you for that.

  5. i found one in the neighborhood, but never found them through school or sports activities. well, the skateboarders had some fun folks… you are indeed lucky.

  6. Ditto….to all of it. D.I.T.T.O.

    Thank God (or Darwin) to both of us.

    Best,

    Indiana Lori

  7. Very well put. I can’t stop myself from laughing every time i encounter a “first timer”, i laugh and say welcome to hell and they are appalled and i tell them they might as well burn most of those baby books in a fire cuz nothing is gonna help, theory is just that… theory and reality is a different ballgame.

    The girl felt much the same way as you and people don’t understand that the first few months are torture with sleep deprivation thrown in, i’ve always gotten up with my sons during the night cuz the girl has trouble going back to sleep and after one of “those” weeks where i haven’t slept and i’m slipping into that hallucinatory stage i kick myself for all the money i wasted on drugs when all i really needed to do was procreate.

    and we both know how i feel about the parents at the park as they cluck and shake their heads at the tall, unshaven beast who likes to refer to Kid A as little Dude, they’ve obviously never seen the Big Lebowski and don’t understand Dudeism.

  8. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy pregnancy and the first few months with your newborn were a struggle. I do understand that; my oldest was a very difficult baby, and I was completely unprepared and overwhelmed and exhausted, too. I do agree, that there isn’t a book or a class or even a good friend that can prepare us for motherhood, or the intricacies of doubting and judging and comparing ourselves with other mothers. I think it’s a process. We have to learn what works for us, for our kids, and the precise balance in doing enough so that we feel like a ‘great mom’ but we’re not driving ourselves insane. It’s hard.

    It does make me sad, as a mom who’s lost a child, when I hear parents (moms in particular) constantly complaining about their lives, the boredom, the sleepless nights. These times pass SO quickly and I think they don’t realize how lucky they are.

    I think it’s great you’ve found friends with whom you can be honest and open and share your struggles and your triumphs, too. I’m still working on that. I often feel judged, too, and isolated, like nobody understands me, either. Maybe there is a group out there for me, too?

    I love these kinds of honest posts.

  9. Those first months are soooo hard and I always feel for the expectant mother who has NO IDEA what lies ahead of her. And even when everyone tells her how tired she’s going to be there is no way she can even fathom how tired she will really be! I’ve never been as tired as I was after I had my first child – never! It is amazing how a little baby can totally kick your ass and yet we are so totally in love that we manage to live through it.

    By the way, judgmental moms wear on the soul. As if we all don’t already have enough insecurities about whether or not we’re screwing up our children . . .

    • “It is amazing how a little baby can totally kick your ass and yet we are so totally in love that we manage to live through it.”

      Seriously, these comments would make a wonderful REAL parenting book.

      • Thanks Ginny. Maybe I’ll write a REAL parenting book, but I don’ t think anyone would ever have children if they knew for sure that they were going to be peed on, crapped on, puked on, kicked in the balls, etc. MULTIPLE times. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. I could expound, but I won’t take up anymore space on your blog.

  10. see…i think expectant moms need to know. i think we set ourselves up for that failure as a new mom, because the other moms only say…”oh, pregnancy is so amazing, and incredible…a miracle. then, when that little bundle is born, oh…wow. it’s just sublime. you’ll be tired at first, but that bond you’ll have with that baby will carry you through. just get through that first six weeks, then, it’s smooth sailing from there.”

    UH-UH!! no way. nothing about that is true. nothing. and spreading those kind of lies, make us feel like shit, when we want to throw our screaming babies in the backyard in the middle of the night to sleep with the dogs.

    motherhood is hella hard…and i think expectant moms should know. sure they might judge me when i tell them that sometimes i consider sneaking off to canada, or mexico, abandoning my husband and children. but, you know what…i don’t care. because when they’re having those moments of their own…and they’re alone with themselves, and honest with themselves…they’ll know i was right!!!

    and it doesn’t get easier…ever. it gets different over the years.

  11. Thank you.
    This is a wonderful post that I kind of needed right now. I feel like I am the only one going through tough times with being a mom (of three under 4). I now have a light at the end of the tunnel…SCHOOL! Here’s hoping I send the little ankle biters to one where I can meet other moms something like you:)

    • Thanks, Jennifer. I think it’s like Nikki says – never easier, just different. And sometimes, just knowing there will be something different is enough.

  12. and for the record, fatherhood is the best fucking thing i’ve ever done, of course i was a bit of a wild man for the first 35 years of my life so maybe it was what i needed to keep me alive a bit on the other end but i honestly love how fun, frustrating, exhilarating, maddening, amazing all the stuff is… they boyo’s have reminded me of all the things the world has tried to beat out of me and i’ve been lucky enough to realize that i need to grab it back…

    and i know this is about mom’s but please don’t let me get started on shithead sperm donors who don’t do a thing for their kids, i’m all for removing their testicles so they don’t make any more.

  13. oh, I was so much the same way. Now, I’ve blocked it out so when I see a woman who is pregnant I talk to her and feel like I’m making everything up b/c I refuse to recall that part.

    • Ha ha! Second pregnancy, I got all the way to 8 months before I started to REALLY remember. And my face was like something out of a horror movie: “Oh god! Oh god, NO!”

  14. Awesome post. I once heard on a sitcom a character say “Smart women don’t forget that kind of misery” when talking about why she only had one child. Some days I wish I was a smart woman.

  15. I don’t talk to pregnant women either, but that’s because I hate talking about fucking babies and I don’t care about what kind of goddamn baby monitor they’re using. And let’s face it, I see a pregnant woman and I stare in fear, because I can’t think of anything else other than “Dude, there is something growing inside of you. Like John Hurt. I want you to know that if it bleeds acid and tries to kill us all, I will not hesitate to throw it out an airlock.” And then everyone is uncomfortable and I have to explain who John Hurt is.

    • “I want you to know that if it bleeds acid and tries to kill us all, I will not hesitate to throw it out an airlock”

      If Hallmark doesn’t snag that, they are BRAIN DAMAGED!!! Screw Hallmark, that’s going on a home-made card at the next baby shower I go to. But I don’t go to baby showers. So, yeah, I don’t know.

  16. And then all I can think of is, “These are the moms of the future? These are the kind of women that men want, women who are completely unfamiliar with the plot of Alien? And they’re going to raise children that are equally unfamiliar with Alien, and then the franchise will die and in thirty years some asshole will try to remake it horribly, and all these people will watch the original because of the remake and they won’t understand the importance of it as a film because they won’t be able to get past how ridiculous the ship’s computer system looks.”

    So my main motivation for having children is to prevent that kind of stuff from happening.

  17. probablydontlikeyou

    We had five children, all in the space of four years (one set of twins really helped push the number along). On one hand, it was actually amazing fun — but you can’t maintain the naive “blessedness of children” attitude with three or four kids in diapers. Whenever we ran across new parents, or expecting parents, we just shut our mouths and let them find out for themselves that all the books and received wisdom aren’t necessarily true.

    Also? Birth control doesn’t always work.

    • To quote the esteemed Colonel Happablap: “Sweet Enola Gay, son!” 5 in 4 years? How have I not seen you on the news, up on the roof with a hostage? Or maybe I have, and I didn’t know it was you. Either way, I agree wholeheartedly (in this case) with the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Besides, they never really believe you, anyway.

  18. Man, Ginny, I was already all tearful from my PVRed Glee, and then you throw that at me. Thanks for reminding me to not take it all for granted. I forget how lucky I am and in how many ways.

  19. Oh we sooooo need a “real” pregnancy/parenting book… one that lays it all out and doesn’t sugar coat..but delivers its often difficult messages with heavy doses of mental liquor and chocolate… ie, humor.

  20. If you see me on the street you’d better not cross to avoid me!

    I feel you on this, though. Motherhood comes so….hard to me. And I don’t want to ruin other people’s experiences with my negativity but sometimes I do.

  21. My babies are all grown up, but I still remember how cheated I felt about the whole thing. I *hated* being pregnant, and I *hated* being so sleep-deprived. I love my kids to death, but I have to admit I’m still wondering why I went through it all twice. I guess the old biological imperatives take control of our good sense once in a while; that’s my only explanation.

    I’m just very, very grateful that I had my children before the days of helicopter parents. I don’t think I could have taken it. I was always a laissez faire mom, and so the whole precious snowflake thing is utterly lost on me. But I know what you mean about being so grateful to find other moms who feel the same way you do. No matter how you feel, it’s really important for our mental health to know other people in the same circumstances or who feel the same way about things. Plus it makes laughing at the wackos so much more fun. 🙂

    • Biological imperative: it’s the only explanation I have for anything I’m doing, right now. And I think the toughest thing I go through in parenting is walking the line between helicopter and laissez-faire – and trying to guess which one is right, in the end.

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