But first, imagine me in a dazzling blue dress and tan wedges. Imagine my hair is lustrous and dark. Imagine my bosom looks soft and full, like I'm wearing a really nice padded bra or like how my boobs used to look before breastfeeding. See me at a podium, my lipgloss glinting beneath the hot stage lights. Notice my pedicure; it matches the color of my necklace. Notice the manicure, which matches the pedicure. Think to yourself, "My god, she looks so . . . so beautiful. Someone that beautiful can't possibly tell a good story. This beautiful woman's story will surely suck very hard."
Then prepare yourself to be SO WRONG! Because I rocked it! And you weren't there. Wah wah.
|Sexpot on the far left.|
This might be a good time to mention that I spent an inordinate amount of mental and physical energy trying to look nice. Also, I'm still on a pretty high dose of steroids.
Oh, and if you were there, thank you; you're excused
Ground Control to Major Mom
What they don’t tell you about becoming a mother is that it can take a while before you realize that you’ve become a mother.
Sure, some women say they felt like moms the first time the baby kicked, and that’s sweet and probably not total bullshit, but that just isn’t how it happened for me.
My big moment of becoming a mom happened in a restaurant parking lot while I chased a runaway baby turd.
Sam was 8 months old. For 8 months I’d been pumping milk, hooked up to a machine bent on turning once-glorious boobs into a pair of miserable hot dogs. I felt like a dairy cow, but still not a mom.
For 8 months I’d become intimate with the lonely hours between 2 and 6 a.m. I’d floated away from sanity and into the void of sleep deprivation with a screaming baby under one arm and a copy of The Happiest Baby on the Block under the other. I felt kinda like Major Tom. But like a mom? Not so much.
So when a friend invited Sam and me to lunch at an upscale gastro pub, I leapt at the chance to bury my sorrows in a tall microbrew.
No kiddie menu? No problem. Babies love charcuterie!
Sam happily noshed on artisanal cheese while the grownups dug into plates of something locally sourced. But as I hoisted my beer, I realized that my son had gone chillingly still. His eyes were fixed in the distance. A vein pulsed in his forehead.
|We may have a situation.|
Diaper loading in 3, 2 . . .
When the bomb dropped, all the mixed greens within its blast radius wilted. Diners clutched each other. Those who weren’t passing out were passing judgment.
The thing about upscale gastro pubs is that the bathrooms aren’t typically family friendly. No changing station. No paper towels. Just a wall of Dyson air blade dryers, which, lemme just save you the trouble, do more damage than good when it comes to getting crap off of a baby.
The backseat of my car was the only option.
The October weather was unseasonably hot. High 80s. My sweat-dampened rump hung out the passenger side door. Sam lay on the back seat, furiously pedaling his slick thighs – a move that made it nearly impossible to de-pants him.
If I’d felt like a mom, I would’ve bribed my kid with his favorite: something breakable and expensive.
Instead, between the heat stroke and the panic attack, my brain just rocketed away, toward the cool, distant glow of memory.
Suddenly, I was standing in my bedroom, singing Donna Summer songs and twirling a blanket around my neck like a boa. I was 4 years old. My mom, carrying a laundry basket, stopped in the doorway and held out my pair of Batgirl Underoos.
“Jessica,” she said, "what exactly happened here?”
I glanced at the undies, clearly the scene of an accident.
I turned back to the mirror and replied, “I didn’t make it.”
“Uh, I think we both know you made it.”
“Mom! I didn’t make it to the bathroom.”
“Wait. You just didn’t make it to the bathroom? And you didn’t say anything? And you just threw these in the hamper, what, a few days ago?”
“Mom! What did I just say? I didn’t make it! I am practicing my singing, mom, ooookay?”
And my mom looked at the underwear and then at me and then she looked over her shoulder, like she was expecting someone to let her in on the joke. But no one was there, and it wasn’t a joke, and she laughed anyway.
Just 4 years after that, my mom was gone, lost to cancer.
When Sam was born, I felt lost too. What had made my mom laugh in the face of those savaged Underoos? Who would show me how to tap into that deep, calming well of crazy?
A tearing sound snapped me back to Earth. Sam’s diaper tabs had begun to give way. Before I could pin him, he flung his ham hocks skyward. The diaper popped open. The contents were set free.
A perfectly spherical poop rolled onto the leather seat just as a convertible tried to pull into the parking spot beside me. But my car door and butt blocked the spot. As I groped for the runaway with a bare hand, I smiled back psychotically at the driver, a bemused and good-looking guy in his 20s. Of course.
Oh god. Dude is looking at my sweaty post-baby butt. Oh god. My car is gonna smell like a hippo house. Oh god. This piece of shit is gonna roll into the no man’s land behind the seat belt.
A rolling runaway poop. They didn’t warn me about that in prenatal yoga. But the alarm bells were already being drowned out by “On Top of Spaghetti,” playing like a victory march.
“You will not turn into mush!” I vowed. To the poop.
Stifling my gag reflex, I nabbed the wayward poo as it rolled off the seat but before it could plop into my purse. I hopped back from the car, holding my fist aloft, and yelled, “Suck it, turd!”
Sam stopped crying and instead gnawed a sock. Dude stopped looking bemused and instead looked horrified. Me, I stopped panting and instead laughed.
I couldn’t stop laughing. “Now Jessica,” my mom might have said, “take your protein pills and put your big girl panties on. You made it.”
Then, then, I felt like a mom.