A couple of recent conversations have been haunting me. actually, one conversation constructed, one off-the-cuff facebook post, and one weeks-long obsession.
here: a few weeks ago, i saw that an old friend of mine, Sam, who was once my roommate, and now has a 3 year old son, commented on a facebook photo book of my son. "So awesome to see pictures of you and your little one," he said. "It's the best thing, isn't it?"
Admittedly, I don't think I was having one of my "its the best thing" days. But truthfully, I probably wasn't having one of my "What on God's green earth was I thinking, having sex, ever?!" days, either. It was, likely, just a day. And the days, they are sometimes long. So I dashed off a response, not thinking much about it at all: "Sam, it's like moving to another planet."
Within minutes - MINUTES - 3 friends had liked my comment. The first, a friend since Jr. High, and one of my first friends to be a mom. She's one of my effing heroes and, since a tempestuous relationship with authority, has returned to school and is killing it in math class. The second was a friend from High School. She lists her occupation as, "Executive Bogey Chaser at Chez [redacted]." The last was a more recent friend, the wife of a dear almost-family friend of Andy's. After some hairy struggles, she and her wife finally had a beautiful Isaac six months ago. Her Facebook occupation says, "Isaac's mom at the [blank] residence." So. Obviously, these are my people.
The weight of my comment didn't really strike me until after it struck them. And then I sat there: stunned. Ohmyfuckinggod, I thought. While it would be nice to think that I've evolved, while it would be nice to think that I've matured, while it would be nice to think that some magic mommy dust fell on my head and turned me into some beatific mama goddess...none of that has happened. What happened instead belongs in some random attack of the body snatchers movie.
A few days later, I was at our weekly toddler group; a collection of women and babies that Arlo and I have known since he was just months old. Now: I have not been through a war. I have watched Saving Private Ryan, and that World War II series on HBO and the assorted Ken Burns documentary. I've read more than my share of Tim O'Brien books. But truthfully, the closest thing I've come to a foxhole, was late spring 2010, when Arlo was an infant. I was functioning on small bursts of sleep, never more than 2 hours at a time. Andy was working, both my mom and grandmother were trading flus, and here I had this teeny tiny baby that the world somehow expected me to keep alive, all while keeping myself alive, as well. I was never clean. I was losing my hair. I was literally afraid to leave the house. I was living on catnaps, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and baby smell. I sat most of the day, hunkered on the couch in milk stained clothing, holding Arlo. Some days, I never put him down. I watched horrible television. I insulted Jehovah's Witnesses. I yelled at the dogs.
These women, this small group of women and babies, somehow saw through all of that to be friends with me. Mostly because they were in their own foxholes. Maybe theirs were not made of peanut butter and jelly and Perry Masons, but they were fox holes none the less. We met each friday, under the leadership of someone who really was a beatific mama goddess. We somehow saw our way out of our holes, and we held hands, girl-scout-style, and walked out into the sun, single-file. We are still friends. We will probably, thanks be to facebook, be friends for a long while yet. Some of us still meet every week.
That week, we talked about how we were different, us mamas of toddlers, than who we were once, pre-babies. Whoa.
Lastly, and I won't go into this too much here, because this poor woman that I don't even know is taking up, along with Downton Abbey, far too much of my headspace already. I mean, she totally deserves it, as she seems to get more amazing to me with each passing day, but still.
One of the aforementioned mamas asked me a couple of months ago, "Do you read Dear Sugar?"
"What is that?" I said. "I need to know."
I did. I did need to know. Since then, every second Thursday, during Arlo's nap, I check: http://therumpus.net/sections/dear-sugar/ And, without fail, every second Thursday, during Arlo's nap, I cry. Very rarely do the problems have anything to do with me, but this woman, this Dear Sugar, can do with words what.. I don't even know. Have you ever seen Jennifer Jason Leigh act? And each eye twitch, each minute turn of her head, how it makes you ache sometimes? That's what Dear Sugar does.
Last week, on Valentine's Day, Dear Sugar shed her anonymity. It turns out she is a writer of beautiful things, and she currently lives in Portland, and she lives in my old neighborhood and her kids go to the elementary school that my old roommate used to work at, and her son was born in late April, the year that she was 35. And she wrote this: http://www.brainchildmag.com/essays/fall2008_strayed.asp , and I read it today, in bits and pieces, small moments tucked into Arlo's nap, during lunch, around grocery shopping.... I finished it in the late afternoon.
It turns out, there are more people than I thought on this planet.
It also turns out, as is to be expected, that I have to go rescue a dear Dada, and help get a too soon to be two year old out of the bath, and pajamaed and to bed. There are some other thoughts to explore, but they will have to wait, likely to be tucked into some other surreptitious moments of my future day.
I will get to it. I will.
*a song, by the band, The Only Ones (thank you, j.a.) lyrics as follows: I always flirt with death/ I could kill, but I don't care about it / I can face your threats / Stand up tall and scream and shout about it
I think I'm on another world with you / I'm on another planet with you
You always get under my skin / I don't find it irritating / You always play to win /I don't need rehabilitating
Another girl, another planet / Another girl, another planet
Space travels in my blood / And there ain't nothing I can do about it / Long journeys wear me out / Oh God we won't live without it
Another girl is loving you now / Another planet, forever holding you down / Another planet