My Patented Formula: Post a Half-Assed Tantrum Then Frantically Backpedal When I Get Called on the Half-Assed Tantrum
September 10, 2008
Thank you, everybody, for your comments yesterday, and for indulging my moment of triumphant self-pity. I came very close to not even mentioning the situation at all, both because I thought some stiff-upper-lipitude would make it easier for my mom (I think, in fact, she was relieved to see that I actually DID want them down, since I guess I'd been a little TOO quick to assure her that I was fine! Fine with this! Don't you dare worry about me, because I am FINE!) and because I Know How Posts Like That Sound. Get some perspective! Things could be worse! Quit whining!
Which. Of course. A couple of you pointed that out. In SUCH a nice way too.
My intention is not to win gold medals at the Pain Olympics. My intention is to...I don't know. Throw words at the Internet to see what sticks, and yesterday I was very, very sad and things were hitting me in a bizarre delayed-reaction style -- my poor dad! my poor mom! what if this doesn't get better? who is going to take care of them? I'm not ready to take care of them because I still need someone to take care of me! I want everything to be just like it was last time! I need to find a way to fix this! I don't think I can fix this! I'm tired now!
I spent most of my allotted writing time working on a funny post about my dog peeing in Noah's bed. (Seriously. RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME. Staring right at me with her beady I-know-what-you're-gestating eyes.) But...it wasn't really funny. It didn't work. It was tinged too heavily with the Stuff I Wasn't Really Writing About. So I deleted it, took a deep breath and just blurted out what was really on my mind for awhile until a nice cleansing cry came and I couldn't see the keyboard anymore.
Thus, my post was rambling, disorganized and unfinished. I knew I would get the "sack UP, ho" comments, because wah wah waaaah. I knew -- know! -- that this is a tiny, minuscule problem in light of what other families have gone through. Perhaps I should apologize for posting something raw and unfinished that dared reveal the 45-minute-long pity party I threw for myself, without spending hours making sure that I fully acknowledged that I was being a bit bratty and was aware of every single possible thing that could be worse.
(I still cringe a little, though, when I remember the shaming rebuke I got during my first pregnancy for bitching about our botched-to-total-hell kitchen remodel in the wake of Katrina, mostly because I could at least TALK about the kitchen remodel without crumpling into a little sobbing ball on the floor.)
(The floor that kept shifting and cracking. No matter how many times it was re-grouted. Because the contractor had cheaped out on the sub-floor and refused to acknowledge that he'd made a mistake and oh my God, I just wanted my canned goods out of my fucking living room.)
(ANYWAY, it stings, actually, the assumption that the simple act of devoting a few hundred words to a silly personal weblog means you truly think those hundred words are clearly the Most Terribly Important & Pressing Matter Of All Time, when really they are only a half step above inane stream-of-consciousness babble and barely scratch the surface of everything else going on in your life.)
My mom, as some of you may remember, was diagnosed with breast cancer during my first pregnancy, and for several months it certainly looked like she wasn't going to be there for Noah's birth either. But of course, I was mostly preoccupied with her being HERE, LIKE ON EARTH. My dad has had more serious health scares than I can even count at this point (cancer, aortic aneurysm, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes, multiple falls and head injuries and he actually doesn't have a voice box anymore, thanks to the cancer). And yet, they are HERE.
They were en route to the hospital with Jason's parents when Noah was born. I called my mom's cellphone from my room and didn't even recognize the trembly little-girl voice I used to ask how soon they would be there, and when they were farther away than I thought, I hung up the phone and cried. (My in-laws had decided that a not-very-quick trip to Whole Foods in PRINCETON, NEW JERSEY was absolutely essential before heading down to DC, where...you know, WE HAVE A LOT OF WHOLE FOODS.) There was absolutely no one else I wanted on earth more than my mom.
But then they were there. I remember my mom came and hugged me first before directing her attention to the baby, which took me by surprise. My dad and I watched part of a Phillies game together. I accidentally recorded over the video we shot of them holding Noah for the first time. I was happy we'd get a do-over.
After Jason went back to work, my mom came and stayed with us for a week. She was still recovering from her mastectomy -- she was worried that she wouldn't really be much of a help, which was ridiculous. We sat on the couch together, we drank coffee and ate junk food and talked about babies and watched movies. It took both of us, in our post-surgical-weakened states, to carry the stroller down the stairs and making it to the post office down the street was a huge victory. She knew exactly what I was going through with breastfeeding and offered no judgment or unsolicited advice or anything other than support. She insisted I take naps. She insisted Jason and I go out for dinner. She told me, over and over again, what a natural I was, what a good mother I was already, and how proud she was. When she left, I was strengthened and confident that I Could Do This.
So yes, I very selfishly want that again.
It's painful to watch your parents age, to get sick, to suffer.
It's painful when it's a slow, natural process, when it just sort of hits you that oh, did he always walk that slow? was her memory always that bad?
It's painful when it's a dramatic roller coaster of health scares, when you can't help but wonder if the next middle-of-the-night phone call will be the last of its kind.
It's more painful than I ever really thought it would be. I have friends who lost parents suddenly, in car accidents usually, but most of them have younger parents who are still healthy and fit. Traveling the world, inflicting the dreaded pop-in and being a giant nagging pain in their ass, year after year.
I was 25 when my dad had a massive aneurysm and almost died. Multiple times, actually, in the span of a few weeks. Jason and I had talked about MAYBE having a baby MAYBE when I was 30. WE SHALL MAYBE SEE. But then I sat next to my dad's hospital bed and had the most terrible, horrible realization -- my maybe hypothetical child might not ever know him. I thought of the few stories I knew about my grandfathers -- both of whom passed away before I was ever born -- and how little I knew about them, those men in old faded photographs who meant nothing to me, and I could barely even breathe. The thought of MY FATHER being a mostly irrelevant figure to MY CHILDREN, just another man in a faded photograph...oh my God. I went home and told Jason we needed to have a baby RIGHT THAT SECOND.
It took him a little while to get on board, and then it took my body even longer to cooperate, but let me tell you: my love and respect for my father -- and my absolute non-readiness to lose him -- are why we have Noah in the first place. And I know I should be well past the point where I let one or two trolls get under my skin and drown out the hundred other kind voices, but the accusation that my post yesterday treated him like an afterthought, that I was truly only thinking about myself and not my parents, well...that's got to be one of the most ignorant things anyone has ever said to me, and frankly, how fucking dare you. (And thanks for reading! Kisses!)
I DO take comfort in the fact that my parents are still here. It's not been an easy road to HERE, let me tell you. I know I can talk to them over the phone, over email, over a webcam, and that while a postpartum trip up to Pennsylvania is not what any of us would prefer, it's doable and by God we'll do it.
But sometimes I still want to climb on top of something and shout that THIS IS HARD, I DON'T LIKE IT, MAKE IT STOP.