People have been telling me that I look good. What they mean, because I, at nearly 200 pounds on my five-one-and-a-half frame and often with no real time to pay mind to my appearance most decidedly do not look good, is that I look lighter. The other lighter, the less encumbered one rather than the less hefty.
One mom in Monkey's class even went so far as to observe, not two weeks ago, that I go have a new baby and suddenly look better. It's supposed to be the other way around, she said. She didn't remember that she saw me pregnant with A, and I can't really blame her for the very human fuzziness of her memory-- we were only looking at the school then, both of us there for one of the Open Houses. I reminded her, and sometime in the next bit of the conversation came "ah, that explains, then, why you always looked so unhappy." Heh. Good to know, I guess...
Which is to say I knew I looked like hell. I just didn't know I looked that obviously or that consistently like hell. Grief, anxiety, responsibility-- it's a heady cocktail I was living on. Not FDA approved or recommended. I'm just sayin'.
I told JD sometime in the fall that it annoyed me when close friends told me I looked good. Not because I didn't want to look good, but because I didn't. And because them saying I did implied that they could no longer remember back to when I wore sizes in single digits and didn't have to strategically plot my movements around my own house lest the squeaky knee let me know exactly what it thinks of me, my ass, and the stairs. Good, as it applies to me among the people who have hung in apparently means jaw no longer in lockdown mode, smelling baby head with a drunk on love look in the eyes. And I know that's a lot, I do. It's everything, in fact. But it's not looking good, it's looking lighter.
I feel lighter, too. I felt it from the very moment the Cub exited my body. The push that propelled him into the world felt like it took off fifty pounds, or a hundred instead of the less than seven it actually did. It's not that I haven't been flattened with a strategically dumped ton of grief, or driven to deep sadness or profound anger over things that might seem insignificant to anyone else. It's just that it's not all the time now, and that, mostly, the stuff of daily living is not hard.
JD felt terrible that his very important and rather fun business trip left me to fend for myself with two sick kids, and the ever wise Tash reminded me that it's not like I do not have a right to complain. And G-d knows I am not one to suggest that a dead baby mama in possession of a new baby is not allowed to complain about the daily grind because she "got what she wanted." Never. It's just that it didn't feel like there was anything to complain about.
I am not a saint, people, nor do I play one on the internets. There are things I will complain about. Like the seemingly complete lack of sleep now two nights running-- alas I no longer possess the stamina of my undergraduate years and I do not do well on no sleep. I do not even do ok, if you get my meaning. There are even things I will take a certain amount of enjoyment in complaining about, said enjoyment located mainly in crafting the story for maximal effect. It's just that many things that should trigger the desire to complain (see: sick kids, husband away) simply don't. Or not so simply.
We had a gathering for the parents of the kids in Monkey's class a few months ago. I overheard a conversation there, and it's been worming its way inside my head since then. A father of four was telling a mother of three that just that weekend one of his kids had an unexpected sleepover, and suddenly they were able to get so.much.done. I am sure you know how it is, he said, when you temporarily find yourself with just one less than you are used to-- there is all this time you normally spend dealing with the kid who is off at a friend's, and you can now put that time towards a ton of little things that you wouldn't otherwise get to.
Maybe that's just it-- I always have one less. And no, I wasn't used to caring for three, and this is not temporary. Nevertheless, this feels a lot like a key to understanding the source of the very bearable lightness of my being these days-- most troubles are temporary, but I always have one less. Oh, and the troubles that look like they could possibly be non-temporary? Those still freak me right out.
P.S. Somehow this seems apropos here: I noticed that I have trouble saying "both kids". I can do it without the "kids," if, for example, in a previous clause I have identified them individually, e.g. Monkey wants an apple, the Cub could use his toy from the kitchen counter, and they both need baths tonight. But I feel like without the setup it's the wrong word to use for the two when the one in the middle is missing. I noticed that I am having the same issue in both languages. Anyone else with me, or am I overthinking the heck out of this?