Sunday, January 22, 2006

Sunday Revelation

I know a woman who loves children. She doesn’t have any of her own. They tried for years, saw specialists and then they gave up. Now she reads, writes, paints, goes on vacations. Her husband reads, debates, follows the market, cleans the house. They’re both in their early sixties. They are quite happy.

The above reverie was prompted by a rather unexpected encounter this morning. I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in six years. It was just outside a Starbucks. I was about to go in when I noticed a young woman with a baby. The baby had a cute baby smile. The mother had on old sweats and a frazzled expression. I smile at them even before I realize it is my friend. And then we both scream. Now if you think that’s odd you are either a man or just a very remarkable girl. Thing is, we scream. Girls scream. It doesn’t matter how old or young we are. We also cry, pout, stomp our feet, shriek, giggle and whimper. It’s our signature really, just like serial killers. And just like serial killers we have an excellent although slightly less disturbing reason for doing this. We do it to differentiate ourselves from men.

After we had screamed and gone inside I hold the baby - a cuddly little boy who seems delighted to have found a new neck to nuzzle (Isn’t it amazing how similar babies and men are in this regard?) - I hold the baby to give the mom a chance to rest her arms. We sit down with our drinks. And then I stupidly say, "Wow. You with a baby!" My friend bursts into tears.

"I hate my bastard husband for doing this to me! He's ruined my life! I can't do anything. I can't go anywhere. I am not fun anymore. I am trapped!"

Now I have experience with this. Almost every one of my friends had cried out those same words a few months after having their babies. Not because they don’t love their husbands or their children but because it’s a big change and even if they were ready, even if they had wanted this exact change there comes a time in every new mother’s life when she realizes the days of carefree girlhood are gone. The grass on the other side starts to look greener. Eventually, this will be replaced by a certain sense of content superiority and comments like "You should get married" and attempts to set you up with all their single male friends will follow but right now she needs consoling.

I start patting her on the back and telling her she wanted this, she loves her baby and one day she will look back and realize this was the most wonderful, most fulfilling moment of her life. It’s all crap. I don’t believe in this fulfillment through motherhood shit but it generally works. She cries louder. The baby who had up until now been alternating between staring at my face in curious fascination and making gurgling, slurpy noises against my collarbone, suddenly also starts to cry. I think, shit! I start to rock the baby. I try to think of a lullaby.

It’s a coffee shop. It’s Sunday morning. There are people lounging about. A young guy alone with his laptop. A man with his newspaper. A group of three in a table around the corner. Baristas bored behind the counter wishing they were anywhere but here on a Sunday morning. And in the middle a young woman, clearly a new mother by her stained sweats and harried expression, crying copious tears into her cup. Next to her another young woman, professional by the looks of her - you know the type. The Working Girl. You can always tell her from The Heritage Princesses and The Trophy Wives. They may wear the same clothes, carry the same designer handbags but there are telltale signs that give her away. She sits a little straighter, says thank you a little too quickly and looks oddly grateful when a stranger is unexpectedly nice to her. Yes, that type - looking worried and faintly amused. She is patting the mother on the shoulder with one hand and rocking her friend's baby with another when the baby starts to cry. She looks around momentarily panicked and then bursts into the first song that comes to her mind which in this case just happens to be Roadhouse Blues by Creed... "Let It Roll, Baby, Roll."

The guy across from us drops his newspaper and looks at me like he’s about to burst out laughing. The baristas take notice. The baby stops crying in surprise. My friend raises her tearstained face and says "What the fuck?" And we start laughing.

On the drive back home I think. I think about the two women. The grass looks greener from where you are standing because the light plays tricks on your mind. Life is a weave. Pleasure and pain, triumph and disaster, joy and sorrow, woven together like threads through a loom. It’s all there. No one’s exempt from it. And it’s not a bad thing. You need to experience it all to find meaning in your life.

I think, pregnancy’s hell but babies are not so bad. They are soft and cuddly and they love you. True they lunge for your chest at the most awkward moments (I am telling you. Babies and men. The similarities are uncanny) but they are just so cute. If they would only stay that cute and not cry so much maybe I wouldn’t mind having a couple someday. Then I think, painting's good too.

"Tout doux, tout doux, tout doucement, toujours, tout doux, tout doucement, comme ça, la vie c'est épatant."


Blogger Coloratura said...

Just found your blog... and I feel the pain of your search... bravo to you for not forgetting who you really are... that's the whole key in life, if you ask me. I promise you, you'll always land right side up if you follow that mantra.

I've got a thought for you: do something the involves writing. Because you're good it. I truly enjoyed reading a few of your posts. You have talent. Hope you keep using it.

1/22/2006 4:42 PM  
Blogger beefdrop said...

Okay... well, actually men and babies are opposites, as babies come out of your birth canal, where as men cum into it. Actually, thats about the worst most disgusting response I could have come up with, but I felt defensive about the 'lunging at chests' comments, so thats what happens. Sorry...

Hey, coloratura says to not forget who you are, and thats good, but at the same time, don't forget to step beyond what you know, as you might find that your are something different than originally thought.

I am glad you found my site entertaining. I will work hard to ensure that more of my memorable experiences are shared.

1/23/2006 11:55 AM  
Blogger cherchezlafemme said...

coloratura, thanks. I love writing but I prefer writing for myself as that is more low pressure. :) Maybe some day.

beefdrop, the lunging comment was just a joke but no worries. Your gray shirt/alien story was too funny btw. I am thinking of sending it to my friends to read.

1/23/2006 2:45 PM  
Blogger beefdrop said...

Go for it, or even direct them to my blog, its all good. I'm glad you found it funny.

1/24/2006 1:40 PM  

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