Silly me. I tempted fate. I claimed I had flown across country with my infant for the first and last time.
Dare the universe and usually you end up losing.
So here I go again next week. Flying to San Antonio to the bedside of my favorite relative, to whom I owe a huge debt, while she recovers from a surgery. That's the short story, here's the long one.
As many of you who read this and know me are aware, my father died of pancreatic cancer in 2008. He struggled for a mere 6 months before quitting all treatment and going home to die in November. 4 months before he was diagnosed I happened to have triplets. Leaving infant triplets at home alone with their father was really not realistic for most of the time, so I was able to visit twice for a weekend each. My aunt, his little sister, was there for him. She spent weeks visiting. She attended doctor meetings, studiously taking notes. She kept him company in the hospital. And, in the end, she held his hand as he died, 8 hours before I arrived fresh off of Thanksgiving weekend.
I owe this woman for doing my job for me when I could not. I owe her a debt of gratitude I can never repay. I owe it to her to be there for her like she was for my father. And so I will.
Monday she is undergoing a femoral endarterectomy. And some iliac thing. You doctors understand. A possible bypass. Her left leg has no circulation, the right still might be ok, but they at least need to go in and scrape all the plaque off the inside of the left femoral artery. Which sounds disgusting. She has every risk factor on the list practically: lifetime smoker, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, inactivity and family history of heart disease. Bam, bam, bam, bam, bam. She is in so much pain right now but I think she doesn't know how in danger she is otherwise. Perhaps it's intentional on her part. In any case, after this surgery they say she needs 3 days in the hospital and 5 days off her feet at home. Her family lives near the hospital, so they can cover that shift. Once she gets home, though, all she has is a husband. A husband who neither desires to be nor is a caretaker.
So here I come to save the day. Yes, I like to save the day. I hope I can come and entertain her, feed her, clean her house and generally pave the way for her to have an easier life for a couple of weeks. I will only be there 3 days so I'd better work fast. But I love this woman as if she were my own mother. In fact I spent a great part of my childhood wishing she were. She is a lovely, gentle, genteel, southern woman with a tendency to drink too much and worry herself to death. I've spent a lot of time with her but not in the last few years, for obvious reasons. What I get out of this visit is time with her and a chance to do with her what I couldn't with my own father. She is the last repository of family history, recipes, names, funny stories and pride. I want to sit and absorb all I can because who knows when I'll get another chance? She is only a couple of years younger than my dad and he died 2 years ago.
This is going to be another emotionally rough trip but thank goodness I get to stay in her house and I don't have to tote the kid around in the heat and stink bug craziness. I hope the logistics being better makes all the difference. I hope that being aware that there will be some crazy emotional crap going on will also help. And good god, I hope the boy sleeps on the plane this time. Benadryl anyone?
I know many of you have been hanging on the edge of your seats to hear about my trip to Maryland with the infant. Those of you who even knew I went that is. I think it's telling that the only photo I have of the whole weekend is this one:
Yes, that's my child chewing on the very common airport chair.
It started out well enough. In fact I'm quite suspicious there was some kind of bait and switch thing my child did on me but I have no way of proving it. Truth serum only works on those able to form sentences. So, we headed out in the early morning hours of a Thursday to the airport. He slept in the car as I had hoped. He was great in the airport despite the computers breaking down and them having to hand write my boarding pass. Security, no problem. Bad decision to carry him to the gate after that combined with him choosing to roll off the changing table in the bathroom while I dug through the bag for a diaper shook me a bit, but I was more worried about him getting crabby in the waiting area. I am pretty sure we scared most of the waiting room into thinking they were getting on board a plane with a nightmare about to unfold, but I was not sure yet. I knew he was tired.
Thankfully, he fell asleep on take off, let me eat breakfast, awoke, and played and then fell asleep again on my chest for most of the rest of the flight. I was bored once I was done napping, and he left a foot wide swath of drool on my chest but that's better than frantically managing a screaming infant. I arrived on the East Coast in good shape, got lost like an idiot who hadn't lived in the area for over 10 years, but made it to the hotel and collapsed with my favorite chinese food. Folks, I got to sleep in a bed for 11 hours with only one interruption requiring my attention the whole night. 11 HOURS.
What mom can say that?
Well apparently you moms with one child. Or maybe one child with an ear infection, who missed his nap and is doped up on ibuprofen. Whatever.
In any case, one might think that the cough cough sneeze barf that occurred mid-day Friday all over the car seat was a bad omen, but I had a great Friday. I ended that day thinking this one kid stuff was a breeze. This traveling with a sick infant to a place where the temperatures had soared over 100 degrees while maintaining the humidity of a steam sauna and harboring a plague of stink bugs from a foreign land was easy!
Somehow the honeymoon ended Saturday. I started crying about 10 am. I had driven for over an hour to try to get the kid to take a nap in the car only to find him just as crabby as if he hadn't had one, found that he had a taste for dirty hay strewn about the floor of the infirmary where I was to spend most of my time cataloguing silent auction items, come to the conclusion that I sure as heck couldn't handle the heat in that area and then realized that this child was not going to let me get jack done without swallowing a stink bug or some foreign object requiring surgery to remove.
Now for some information you need to understand my tears. For the last 8 years (I think ) I have been the savior of this silent auction. I usually had the luxury of spending hours there in the 3 days leading up to the event and 12 hours on the very day of the event running the auction while the rest of the fundraiser went on around me. It is chaos I turn into control. I feel like a rockstar and am told how fantastic I am multiple times per day while I'm there. Meanwhile, I get to revisit one of my favorite areas on the planet, the green, leafy, wild animal filled woodlands of Maryland. The old houses, the stone walls, the winding country roads. I love visiting even if I don't get to see friends. But this year I found myself incapable of accomplishing what I come there to do. I couldn't save the day if that infant wouldn't let me work!
In any case, not to draw out a long and boring story, I still managed to make it work. With the invaluable help of some 12th hour childcare I was freed to make it work with the time I had left. It wasn't as much fun as usual but they apparently made 12k off the silent auction alone, so we'll call that successful. But I had spent a lot of hours driving around the Maryland countryside thinking. Thinking about my dad mostly, and how little he knew of what I knew.
Did that make sense? My father didn't really take the time to find out what I knew. He was such an expert on everything that I guess it didn't occur to him to find out what I was an expert about, something a parent should really do. I think most of you will agree with me on that. I hope to be an expert on what my childrens' strengths and powerhouse skills are. I hope to be constantly amazed by what they know that I don't know. But then I'm the result of how I was raised. Maybe I'll err in the other direction and they'll think I know nothing. Whatever. But the result of all this thinking was not apparent to me until the day after I returned home. I hit full on mourning my dad again. The second anniversary of his death is the end of November. Apparently it's still raw, especially when I'm back where he and I shared such a love of the area and spent hours driving around together and now I'm driving around with MY kid in the car. Heavy.
So, after an exhausting couple of days in the heat and bugs we returned to the airport with a sense of confidence. The flight shouldn't have been any different than 4 days before. Same time of day, same seats, whatever. It was Not. The. Same.
This child would not sleep. He teased me with a short nap on takeoff. But then? When I was desperate for rest? Not a chance. I was physically exhausted from the day before at the auction, I was mentally exhausted from caring for an infant 24 hours a day for 5 straight days in weird circumstances, I was emotionally exhausted from dealing with dad stuff. I lost my COTTON PICKING MIND. I was bawling 3 hours into the flight knowing there were two hours left and this child was going to explode any minute and there was nothing I could do about it. I bawled and couldn't stop. I would slow down and then catch a glimpse of a flight attendant or another flyer and think how much they must have been pitying me and I'd start all over again. At one point the flight attendant just walked over and handed me a gigantic Snickers bar. That's how pathetic I was.
Well whatever, he slept in the car on the way home. While I bawled a bit more. The worst he got on the plane was some loud talking and this yelly thing he does when he's mad. Who knows if anyone got irritated, I was in my own world of self loathing. But we survived. And I had to have some help the next day from the therapist to get to the bottom of all the grief. Knowing it was about my dad made it a lot better and maybe I can just ask my psyche to next time not hit me with a two ton load of misery on a public plane where I have an infant so I can't go hide in the bathroom, Ok? Thanks.
So there ya go. Something I will never have to do again: fly cross country with an infant while bawling like, well, like an infant. That can go in my life book. Yippee.
I read somewhere once that women, on average, see themselves as 20% heavier than they actually are when they look in the mirror. I found that very interesting because, at the time, I usually found that I saw myself as thinner than I really was. I'd look at someone and think I was the same size as them and be shocked to find out they were one or two sizes smaller in reality. Of course, when you're only a size 10 you're doing ok regardless of how you look in your mind's eye.
Now I'm apparently average. I'm pretty sure I see myself as far, far worse than I actually am. I am, quite honestly, 50 lbs overweight. There is no denying that. But I have always carried a few pounds well hidden as I carry it in the waist. Up to a point that works for you. It's much harder to disguise a big butt than a bit of a tummy. Wear an empire waist and you're set. Stuff it all into some control tops and you're good. No one believed I was a size 14 when I was one. So, most likely, now that I am actually obese, I probably only look overweight.
So my challenge to myself tonight is to go find some good pictures of myself lately in which I don't look so bad. Because I have noticed that in some pics I don't look nearly as fat as I think I do. And when I find myself sitting in the nail salon waiting for my pedicure (oh yes, I do have some me time) while trying to hide my spare tire with my arms, I know things have reached a new low.
Let's see what we have:
Oh, ok fine, none of them are full body shots but let's go easy on the girl. If I didn't already know noses continue to grow your whole life I'd be more upset about the number of huge schnoz shots I came across in this exercise because I apparently never look at the camera anymore, just down at the kid with me, and that is not a good nose angle. In any case, I think these three pics should be shoved in my face any time I think I'm just plain ugly. Because I may be chubby, but my face is still ok. And if my face and upper body doesn't make me look like the gigantic blob I have in my mind's eye then I probably just don't look like one.
I just need to take my mom up on her offer to pay for my lipo. But honestly? After that c-section recovery? No thanks.
So my best friend Ellen's bachelorette party was this weekend.
Obviously in my younger, pre children days
I'm a bridesmaid in her wedding so I was instrumental in the planning of said event, but it was all about her. She wanted a wine weekend, so it was. She wanted penises everywhere, so it was. She wanted to spend the night in a house recovering from a day of drinking? Well, it mostly was. A cottage like hotel room. On which they used ridiculously exaggerating wide angle lenses to make it look like 9 girls could sleep in it. Only when you got there you found out the 'double beds' were built for 8 year olds. But I digress.
This weekend made me feel old. Old and out of touch.
Miz Ellen is 7 years younger than I. Her friends ranged from 7-15 years younger than I. They were thin and cute and smart and happening. I am none of these. Well I used to be smart, but then I used to be thin too. Most of that is just gone. I didn't know the music they played (very well, I mean I have heard Beyonce but I don't know the words) I don't really like wine so I had to pretend all day at wine tastings that I had a clue, I ran out of steam at about 4pm (seeing as how my infant had me up at 5am that was no surprise) and I am just not quite at the raunchy level of drinking through penis straws in public.
And I still let her near my children
I will do anything for that girl though. Even fondle a penis covered wand when she thrusts it in my face. Only once, but I will do it.
Now some of you may be remembering my bachelorette party. Sure, I got a lap dance from a drag queen with waaaay better boobs than I have, and yes, I danced in a cage AND on a stripper pole, but somehow one does lose one's inhibitions on one's day. Because this weekend I was feeling quite prudish. Or just old. Or I just don't like penises. I'm sure my husband is thrilled.
I'm sure you're all wishing I had pictures of my own party but somehow I don't have them on this computer. My friends are welcome to contribute but you'll have to just imagine me in a feather boa and a crown attempting to return the lap dance to my buxom friend on stage in front of everyone. Oh that seems so long ago. But I did learn something that night: I learned how to cut loose. I had always been very self conscious in public, even when dancing. And I knew I needed a costume to let it all go, but let it all go I did. I danced and stopped caring if people were looking, I laughed, I drank and I acted a fool and just stopped looking to see how people were reacting. And I was able to do the same on my wedding reception dance floor.
I can't say I've kept it going all this time, though. Having children out in public has given me a new self consciousness, the worry of how people are judging my parenting. And this weekend I felt very self conscious. I was the person who wanted to belong. I would love to be 30 again in some ways, but the truth is I wouldn't have fit in with these ladies even if I were 30. I'm a geek, a dork, the kind of person who would be at home reading a book or doing a sudoku puzzle in front of the tv. I'm not a wine tasting, party all day, penis gag gift fondling person. So whatever. It was interesting. It was a window into my best friend's life. She had a great time and that was my goal. I would have had to fall on my knife if she was unhappy with her one and only bachelorette party. So it's all good.