Thursday, January 5, 2012

"No wait! I'm just like you!" (Alternate title, "Come on kids, let's go to court!")

Just reading through my journal and I decided this entry needed to be shared. I'm thankful I experienced it, and that it's over. Enjoy. I promise, it will make you feel better about today. I know it did me. Happy New Year.

June 22nd, 2009

Yesterday was my first outing with one month old Collin. I wish I could say it was to a Le Leche League meeting or Mommy and me outing. No, it was to court. I got that ticket for an expired registration on my way back from the hospital last month. (Worst day ever. Until today.) Well, Shane was called out on town on with a work emergency, so I had no choice but to go to court myself. With registration infractions, there is no option just to pay a fine. You have to be in court. Court started at 8. To drop the kids off somewhere would have been waking up a friend at 6. And Collin doesn't take a bottle.

So there I was. One month after my c-section (and yes, my incision is still infected), dragging my 3 year old and 1 month old out the door at 6:30 am to get to court on time. Getting dressed was a minor exercise in humiliation. I stood in my closet for 20 minutes, trying to figure out anything that I could possibly fit into that would be "court appropriate". I finally discovered a pair of khakis that I dubbed my "fat pants" after Lydia was born. I grabbed flip-flops and a black v-neck that was stretched out enough at the neckline to allow for easy nursing. I pulled my greasy hair into a knot, grabbed some earrings and called it good. My mistake was looking into the mirror. Everything about me is "swollen". My breasts, my ankles, the bags under my eyes. My body looks like I should have a black line superimposed over my face as they show me on the news as being an example of the rise of American obesity. I am hideous.

It's June, but it feels like August. We had to park several blocks from the courthouse and 2 minutes after leaving the car all three of us were dripping. Poor little Collin. The extra pain medication I took was doing nothing to stop the searing pain radiating through my abdomen. I'm not supposed to be out of bed. I'm definitely not supposed to be rushing down the sidewalk with a double jogging stroller. By the time we reached the courthouse entrance, I was hiding my tears with my oversized sunglasses. My tears continued when I saw a sign across the door stating "Entrance Closed".

I called the info line listed on my ticket to find out where I needed to go. I knew I was not going to be happy the moment I heard that bored southern drawl of a bitter women who hates her job and most likely was left by her husband for a striper.

"Ma'am. (Long annoyed pause). That entrance has been closed for a year. You have to enter through the parking garage."

"Where is the parking garage? Can I walk there? This is the address it gave me on my ticket."

Longer annoyed pause.

"No ma'am. Everyone has been entering the garage for over a year. You have to drive."

I look at the clock and start rushing back towards the car. My c-section incision feels like it is about to burst and both kids are crying.

After returning both kids to their seats, gingerly shoving the enormous stroller in the car without straining myself, I finally find the parking garage after circumventing the construction and one way streets. I want a GPS for Christmas. And possibly a minivan. No. I take that back. No minivan.

I pull the stroller back out, unbuckle both kids, buckle them back into the stroller, and ran. Well, I hobbled quickly.

I make it to the security check five minutes before I'm supposed to appear before the judge.

"Miss?"

I look up as I'm piling my baby paraphernalia on the the belt.

"You can't take a stroller into the courthouse"

No. That can't be right. I didn't prepare for this. I'm not supposed to pick up anything over 10 pounds. I have a 8 pound baby and a 15 pound diaper bag. My diaper bag isn't big enough to carry everything I have. It's spilled it's contents into the bottom of the stroller. I don't even have my baby sling.

"Is there anyway? I just had a baby and he's asleep in the stroller. I'm not supposed to carry him for more than a few minutes."

"Sorry, no."

He was a nice enough guy, but I kind of wanted to punch him in the face.

I picked up Collin, dumped out everything from my diaper bag except the bare necessities, grabbed Lydia's hand and took two steps. I thought I was going to pass out. I kept going because there was really nothing else to do.

I made it to the courtroom 5 minutes late.

The bailiff stopped me at the door.

"I know, I'm late, I'm so sorry!"

"No. That's not the problem. You can't take children into the courtroom."

This time I just stared. For an uncomfortably long time. I could see in the bailiffs eyes he was scared. He knew I was about to have a total breakdown.

"Ma'am. Just go sit over on that bench. I will come and get you when it's your turn. I will try and get you to the top of the list. We'll figure out what to do then. You probably will still have about 15 minutes."

I just about kissed him. Then I started to cry again when I realized he was being nice to me because I was pathetic.

I walked to the bench and decided to nurse Collin. I kept talking to Lydia about what was going on around her.

Did I mention that I told her we were on a field trip to the court? She was having a blast.

I was in mid-sentence of explaining to her what the judge does when I saw something incredible.

I saw me.

No, not in a mirror or reflection. I saw me, 5 years ago.

Five years ago I was working for a law firm. Shane and I had been married for a couple years. I was in fantastic shape and a great place in my career. Every Friday I donned my black suit, heels and pearl earrings to head to court. I meet with clients and defendants, assisted the attorney in the court room. I loved it. I felt successful, attractive and in control of my life.

There I was. Only 5 years before. A woman in the same place in her life as I had been. Same suit, same heals, same pearl earrings. And then she turned and looked at me.

I could see the look. I knew it because I had given it. She was wondering behind those smokey eyes, how does a women get to this point? Dripping in children and breast milk. What is she wearing? How hard is it to take a shower and get yourself ready for the day? She probably thinks of nothing but Elmo and coupons.

I wanted to scream at her. No! I'm just like you. Really! Underneath this extra 30 pounds and unhighlighted hair and disgusting clothes with snot and spit up. I can be pretty! Just not right now. I have style. I just can't fit into anything except sweats and this handmade nursing blanket. I am interesting! But not since the baby was born and my mind is mush and I couldn't remember the word for "Walnut" yesterday. I am successful! Though wait. I have given up any semblance of a career.

Her gaze wandered lazily away and the bailiff appeared, looking embarrassed. I noticed then that my nursing pad had worked it's way out of my bra and was attached to my neck.

The judge allowed Lydia to sit with all the bailiffs while I spoke to him. If I hadn't been in total humiliation of standing in front of dozens of people in my current state, I might have thought it was cute. There she was, all smiles as she sat surrounded by ten men in uniform. To her, this was the best field trip ever.

The judge looked at me and started laughing. Collin responded by shooting spit up down my back.

Loudly for the entire court to hear he chuckled, "You know. Technically I can send you to the work yard for a few days for an expired registration. Do you think I should send her to the work yard?"

I glanced at the court full of people waiting to be seen. They did not look happy. In fact, they looked really annoyed.

"I'd rather just pay a fine if it's all the same"

"Do you have proof of a renewed registration?"

"Yes."

"Then you can go. But next time its the work yard."

Somehow I managed a smile and by the look the judge gave me, I knew without a doubt, he was a grandfather.

Lydia was hungry so I let her pick out a drink and a snack out of the vending machines.
She took a photo with a policeman.
She said it was the best day ever.

Then she had to go potty.


I thought I had experienced low points in my life. But this topped them all.

There were no women anywhere to help me. There was no stroller to put my newborn. Lydia was too small for the toilets. She had to be held up so she didn't fall in. Kids weren't allowed in the courtroom so there was no changing table to strap Collin in.

There I was. My new baby laying on my diaper bag next to the toilet. I was crouched with my knee supporting him so he didn't fall off, and both arms holding Lydia as she did her business. My pants were too tight for that position. I had to unzip them. The stall was so shallow, half my butt was hanging out below the door. I was in some of the most excruciating pain I can imagine, trying to smile as Lydia retold the days exciting events. I prayed, please don't let the "me from 5 years ago" walk in.

Oh my. What have I become?

However, as I drove home, I felt such relief I found myself smiling. I did it. If I could be a mom of two on this day,  I could totally hack it.

My thoughts strayed to the woman I had seen.  I wondered if I could ever be her again.

Probably not. I could be attractive again. I will have my mind back most likely. I guess I could have a career at some point. Though that sounds so exhausting at the moment I won't even dwell.

But I will always be different. There is a world you pass into when you have kids. A world you cannot understand beforehand. I don't care how much you've babysat or how many nieces and nephew you have.

All the opinions you had of life after kids are merely misunderstood perceptions. Having children changes you in ways you can't control. The way I used to think about young mothers was wrong. I just couldn't see it because they were literally in a different dimension from me.

Still. I want to be that way again. I want to be me, just with children. I want to have style and hobbies and sex and normalcy.

I instinctively reached up to pull a stray piece of greasy hair from my face and I noticed something. The earrings I had chosen to wear in my exhausted 5:45 Am stupor.

Pearls.

Hum. Maybe, be it ever so slowly, I'm already on my way back.

29 comments:

Holly said...

Natalie,
Thank you for sharing this with us! I wish I would write my mom experiences down more often... so I have something to look back on and remember the hard days that make the every days so much sweeter :) I too sometimes think about the "me" from 8 years ago... I had a career, I traveled the world, wore makeup every day... I had no clue what moms really do. What we sacrifice for our kids. But you know what? I wouldn't trade it for anything. Thanks for making me smile tonight.

Julie Isa said...

thank you! i love that you shared this!!!

Jen@ADropintheBucket said...

What an awesome post. It is so true that there can be days like this. And I am totally with you...it is in those moments that I wish I was the me before kids. Wonderfully written.

Hanna said...

Thank you for sharing this. This is one of the best things I've read about being a (new) mother in a long, long time.

Molly and Wayne said...

wow... are all your journal entries short novels?? And that tops all my bad days.

Michaela@Life With the Crazies said...

Wow... what a crazy experience. This should be in a book. I love that you shared this, and yes, I do feel better about how my day is going so far ;)

The Jimmy Harry Family said...

Couldn't help but cry, laugh and and enjoy your entry today. Thank you for sharing what most of us try to avoid.

Katie@a mom, a wife, and a me said...

I wish I had thought to write thing like that down! I often think about 'my life' then and now, and wonder if I ever gave the lady with the 4 annoying kids at the grocery store that look I get sometimes. .. I would hope not but then again what do all those 'before real life sets in' people know anyways! I hope juggling has gotten easier!

Carrie said...

I love you. This made me cry. We've all {moms with two kids} been there.

I had a similar epiphany at the mall after Ben was born, in my fat pants, as I sat in a bench outside Nordstrom. As I looked at the stores where I used to fit into the clothes and cute people walked by, he pooped all over himself and me, too. I had to change him into the too small pants I had come to return.

I love this post. What a difference two years makes, right? Until #3 comes along... hee hee...

Dave and Abby said...
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mammabearsworld said...

Thanks so much for sharing! I wish there had been a mother or grandmother passing by, if only to give you that reassuring look that day.
I remember having DS1 and thinking how difficult it was to do everyday things, then ds2 came along 18 months later and difficult morphed into impossible. But, I look back (now that they are 2 and 3) and am so impressed at the things I've done with those two in my life. I may still not shower everyday, but those two smiling faces are all that matter and they don't mind.

Push Pop Mama said...

Dave and Abby-

Did you even read the post? Your comment was totally off.

Liz

Dave and Abby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Natalie Jane said...

Molly - Most of my journal entries are two lines. So no, this one is not typical.

Abby - I think of you as a pretty nice person, so I'm going to assume that you didn't intend your comment to be so completely rude and condescending. Also, it really had nothing to do with my post. But, I'll address it anyway.

Being a mother is a sacrifice. Of course it is. You give up everything to do it. Admitting that isn't showing regret, it is taking ownership of the choice you make.

When I was in college I intended to do my graduate degree in France. I studied French for 2 1/2 years to get ready. Then I met Shane. He still had two years of undergraduate work. I knew that if I went to France, I probably would not end up with him. So guess what. I chose to stay. I made a huge sacrifice to be with him. I openly admit it was a sacrifice and yet I have not regretted that one day of my life. Sacrifice is not synonymous with regret.

Thinking that motherhood is hard is not one step away from choosing daycare. However,pretending motherhood isn't hard is a sure path straight to Prozac.

Carrie said...

Hope you don't mind, but I had to share this on my blog, FB, and Twitter. It's a gem.

Granola Girl said...

I had that moment when I was pregnant with Sydnie and Makenna pooped her pants at the Mall but I had driven an hour and a half to buy a couple maternity shirts! I didn't even bring the diaper bag with me because I was only going to be a few minutes! I used the bathroom there in Motherhood and chucked her underwear and tried to clean her up with Toilet Paper--there were no paper towels. Then as I put her in the rented car stroller and I'm waiting to check out she puts her bare feet up on the steering wheel and yells so all could hear, "I've got poop on my feet!" It was awful and yes I contributed to the horrible germs on those rental strollers--DON'T EVER rent them. I gave it back and made her walk in her bare feet in 40 degree weather out to the car--I got a lot of stares. She fell asleep smelling of poop on the way home. I NEVER thought that would happen to me! Thanks for sharing. Loved it! Love you!

Kathleen said...

Wow, what a story and what a FABULOUS piece of writing. You should consider submitting it to an essay contest, seriously!

This situation reminds me a little of my Mother's Day last year, spent with a sick 2 year old on an airplane. At one point, I had to change a nasty blowout in the airplane bathroom, not realizing there was a fold out changing table. What a nightmare, trying to do that, all amidst knocking on the door from outside. When we got to the hotel, I cried for a while, but looking back, it's just like you said: if I made it through that, I can do anything.

Natalie Jane said...

Thanks everyone! You make me smile with all your sweet comments.

(Jenn - I remember that story. So gross. Who knew there would be so much poop to deal with!)

Dave and Abby said...
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Dave and Abby said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Natalie Jane said...

Ok. Your comment left me equal parts exhausted and confused.

I don't think you really get my blog. Do you really think that I would be a full time mother if I was worried about being "just a mother" as a career? That I would do something I was embarrassed about? My word, everything I write about it the opposite of that. I think being a mother is the most noble calling there is. I'm proud to say that is what I do full time.

http://www.nataliessentiments.com/2011/03/cookie-cutters.html


However, I spent 28 years of my life not being a mother. And before I was a mother, I loved the woman I had become. If I ever say I don't want to be just a mother, I mean that I want all of me to coexist. I want the 28 years of development to merge together with the mother I have become. I want it all. I don't want to be "her". I want to be "me". And I'm pretty sure that 99% of women out there want the same thing.

I think that if you go back and read my blog for a few years, you will see that you grossly missed the point.

And I do talk about this often outside the blogosphere. Just not with everyone.

Adrienne said...

Natalie,
As I read through this post I found myself staring into that closet, pushing that stroller, crying those tears and feeling the pain...you have a way of writing that literally puts me right in the middle of it. I read that story and wanted to leap into the words on the "paper" and help you, what a day!

I totally get your comment about wanting the old you and the new you to be able to merge, co-exist. I am a mother of three and I too want the same thing. (Especially the sex part, Ha!) Thank you for sharing your heart and your experiences.

Adrienne

Dave and Abby said...
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Joy@WhenDoesDaddyComeHome said...

Wonderful post!!! I actually almost cried when the "you from five years ago" laid her eyes on the you in the present. How many preconceived judgements we have made as childless women... and then when we have those children we "get it"! Oh how we get it! I'm a mother to four now. I totally get this post, especially the bathroom scene.

Natalie Jane said...

Oh Joy, yes I believe we ALL get that bathroom scene.

Shannon Gillman Orr said...

This is excellently written! Thank you so much for sharing. I catch glimpses of my former architect self too, but I have to say I like my self much better now, two kids into it. :)

Heileson Family said...

I loved this. I laughed so hard. It is so funny. I can say that only because I AM A MOTHER and have had many awful experiences like that. It is a scene from a movie. A couple of months ago I had one where I took my 8 year old to the movies and along came my nursing baby. My 8 year old had been waiting 2 months for this date with mom and was so excited. Well part way through the movie my baby had a blow out and so I just took her out with her diaper bag. We were at the cheap movie theater downtown far away from home and it wasn't the nicest place. It's old and not been updated. Well when I got to the bathroom there was luckily a counter. Well when I took her diaper off I realized I had no diapers in her diaper bag. Me the mother of 4 had no diapers. Well I literally stood their and prayed on what to do. I didn't want to tell my 8 year old we had to leave and have him be sad so I took everything from the diaper bag and using everything including my nursing cover made a make-shift diaper and just prayed we'd be okay. My baby soon fell asleep and slept the rest of the movie. Well after the movie when I stood up I had pee all over me. I had to drive the 20 minutes home with pee on me and my sweet baby never complained that she and her car seat were covered in pee. I had to wash my baby, her car seat and me after the movie. It was pretty awful but a fun story that now after it's all over I can look back and smile.

It does make me sad that nobody helped you and that there was no letter telling where to go for court. Oh what an experience. This will be a story that will be told for generations on what my mom, grandmother and great grandmother did. I still can't stop smiling. You are a trooper. I would have probably called the court house crying before I even thought of getting out of bed. You go girl. You are definitely A MOTHER.

amydear said...

Well-written, Natalie! I can't believe your day. That is insane. I'm glad you've shared this with your readers. I know exactly how you feel. I was very good at my career and although I love my calling as a mother, I do miss my other self. But I, too, get glimpses of her. You should submit this to a magazine or something. Does Boise have a local Mom mag? Our town does.

Ashley said...

love this post! you are awesome!

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