Boy, did I ever change-up the everyday mom routine recently. My constant game of Happily Play With Baby Then Pick Up The House turned into flights to Buffalo for a woo-girl infused bachelorette weekend, a monster music festival set on a bed of white flour Bama sand, baby-less trips across Mass to reunite with some college gals, a couple of concerts at the Garden, my first camping weekend since I was that 26-year old wannabe hippie at Bonnaroo…muddy galoshes and all. My protective bubble was burst over this last month. Boldly venturing out of our Beantown circle that I’ve created to cushion the 2010 steep fall into our new world. A bubble that I also like to think of as distinctly separating old Jessica versus new and greatly improved Jessica.
Old Jessica: I used to worry about how small our new half of a house was when we moved here in chilly December 2009. A petite family of 2 was soon turning into a spacious family of 3, and 22-weeks pregnant me had a new kitchen the size of my old walk-in closet. New Jessica: extravagant worry turned to appreciation as these days I relish in the calming cool salty sea breeze this old house gives off at night overlooking the ocean at the end of a stressful, mind-racing day.
When we were planning our wedding, I used to obsess over how perfect the centerpieces had to look on the clean-lined table. How perfect the pastel pink and chocolate brown polkadot ribbon had to be hand-tied to the 200 frosted votives I purchased in bulk. That I made my sisters tie on. How unique the moss-covered ‘T’ and ‘J’ foam initials were hanging to greet guests as they waltzed through the country club doors. Now I enjoy just knowing I have a partner in life to help me get through, well...life. Good or bad. In fact I was just laughing at a Bridezilla on tv, whine and whine about how soup wasn't in her budget and she had to have it. She was crying over soup. Oversaturated vegetables in sodium broth. Soup. Was I her at some point?? All I know is that I’m not her now. Thank goodness.
My 2007 jeans used to give off an image of "You needed to lose weight like 5 minutes ago" as I stared into the full-length mirror, then reaming through my closet for a happy hour outfit. Now I would kill to be back in my pre-pregnancy size and slap myself silly for constantly battling my womanly image. It’s still an everyday struggle, but I have learned to appreciate what these wider hips have yielded – a little girl I get to put pigtails on.
Used to think the Pepto pink 1905 house on the waterfront corner here with the worn out shutters was the biggest waste of Atlantic Ocean real estate existing. Now I see the most perfect 3-story seaside home that I yearn to sip coffee out of in the morning gazing over the mirror blue glass water just yards away, like I'm sure the aged, retired resident does on a daily basis. Taking pride in his little slice of heaven. Taking pride in his Pepto colored beauty.
Just the other day I was complaining about how much Rocket Man Troy traveled. But then hours later after squeezing tickle laughter out of Lyla during playtime, I realized his job allowed me to stay at home with my little cuddle bug. To take care of her the way she needs to be watched over. To spend every waking minute aiding her in getting to the next developmental milestones she works extra hard for each day. To teach her how to high five – and she can rock a mean high five as she holds her hand up at eye level in anticipation for your fingers to slap with hers. Love this new trick.
I'm not trying to be the over joyous church lady here that you want to throw your shoe at when you're having a bad day. But I am trying to let you in on my little discovery – I get it now.
I walk around these parts now wearing pride on my sleeves, feeling honored and regal knowing that I get it - what’s important. What’s not. I feel like I’m part of this non-disclosed elite group of people that are the closest to spiritual nirvana, because we as this elite force know what petty minuscule things not to worry about and what soul-lifting immeasurable moments to focus on in this short time we have to breathe.
I must say, sometimes I feel really bad for the ones not yet part of this group. I love to see the progress of us all climbing up the ladder towards this bright uniformity, but hate to see the personalities still stuck at the muddy brown bottom in their hippie galoshes. Like the Jackie O. woman in her 50’s walking her 4lb Chihuahua on a Louis Vuitton leash the other day, who refused to veer off to the side as my delicate 18lb HUMAN BABY was being pushed in her stroller that was only made for pavement. The dog’s paws that were made for grass remained on the precious concrete as she boldly pressed on not even acknowledging our existence, as I last-minute veered onto the bumpy terrain and realized this woman clearly did not get it. Seriously, not even an ounce of anger swept over me. I just plain felt bad for her. Like it was too late for her to reach the top.
Complain less about your frizzy hair in the muggy summer air, and appreciate that you don't have to deal with a sweaty wig like some brave women in my life do that are battling cancer that just wont retreat.
Complain less about how your baby won't sleep through the night, and appreciate you're not a parent at Children's Hospital waiting agonizing hours post-surgery for their child just to wake up. Just remember there are some who stay awake just to watch their children sleep.
Complain less about having to aid to the handicap as “It’s so annoying they’re always trying to do things they can’t do.” This is a real statement. From a 30-year old’s mouth this past month. Who went on to make fun of the Special Olympics. In front of a group of very intelligent people. In front of me. I just about fell out of my chair. I could feel the lump in my throat trying to pierce my tear ducts, but I cowardly stuffed the hurt down below. Only a few people in this crowd knew I had a daughter with special needs. Even if they didn’t know – does it matter?!?!? Do we really need to be speaking like this as adults?!?!? I don’t understand this pompous need to verify your “intelligence” by speaking down on others. Others you don’t know. Others who hold much more emotional intellect than a naïve bully will ever possess.
But I digress.
Actually…no I don’t.
I have to have faith that one day these lost souls will come back around full circle to their 4-year old innocence. Some re-discovering it through their own unborn children, some through a stranger’s impactful story. And in the mean time I can continue to build my courage up to openly educate versus letting the lump in my throat bury me in the room’s cobwebbed corner. The word retard or retarded still paralyzes me with it’s stabbing sounds thrashing through my eardrums and twisting my heart into two. It’s not a matter of choosing what to let bother you or not, like some say. I instantly feel pain before my brain can even process the conversation. You’d think our generations still using this hurtful dialect would remember to at least filter their words around me, but it’s a sad sad day when someone in my presence drops the r-word as involuntarily for their mouths as salivating. Friends let it ramble off their tongue without flinching. Family can’t remember that it might be a good time to remove it from their word bank. (And I appreciate those of you who correct yourselves on the spot – it symbolizes positive change that makes me have hope that one day Lyla won’t have her eardrums stabbed either).
So much for venturing out. Back to my bubble I ran, just wanting to give high fives to my baby girl. To sip my freshly-opened dark roast cup of Starbucks staring at the ocean we hope to hop in SOON with the approach of steamy summer. To walk the streets of Boston with Lyla’s 17-month old playmate in route to storybook Boston Commons park to frolic in the tall tulips. Back to a world surrounded by a black wrought iron fence that gets it. And it really is much greener over here.
How perfect is it that just now my thirst quenching post-airplane-ride bottle of cold Magic Hat’s cap read “Smile. It confuses people.” Rightly stated friends.
So please, grab that ladder and hop on over to this side of the fence with me. All are welcome to enjoy our manicured lawn full of appreciation for the little things and change for the better. And bottles of Magic Hat.