As Hard As It Sounds
January 5, 2012
A year or so before Emma was born I signed up to serve a three-year term on a church committee. DUMB. Dumb dumb dumb. At the time I was thinking, "Something else to do! A chance to get out of the house! Grown up conversation!" And it was for a while, but then Emma was born and tonight was the first meeting I've attended since. I mean, at this point they should pretty much fire me for poor attendance.
Actually, last night I was feeding the baby and I blindly reached over to the nightstand, feeling around for my phone to check the time. Then I noticed I had an email and the subject line said "meeting minutes". So I spent the rest of the middle of the night feeling horrendously guilty for not only skipping my meeting this month but NOT EVEN KNOWING I WAS SKIPPING IT!
Except, I woke up this morning and realized they were the minutes of LAST month's meetings, and perhaps I am a little spaced out when checking the time at three something in the morning.
Anyway, I went to the meeting TONIGHT and there was a new person in attendance and all the committee veterans were asked to quickly introduce ourselves. I went through my usual spiel - how long we've been there, married to the devastatingly handsome Chinese man, mother of three - and this time I added their ages. "Four, three, and three months." And then? EVERYONE SNICKERED!
Oh yes they did. And I honestly had no idea what to do or say or how to respond at all. I mean, it was a GOODNATURED snickering. It might even have been a sympathetic snickering. But it was snickering nonetheless and in that split second I had to ask myself, "Did I INCITE snickering? In what sort of TONE did I list those ages?" Because honestly, Internet, I was just giving the facts. I was not fishing for hugs or sympathetic glances. If anything I want to come off as ROCKING this mom-of-three gig. I mean, have you met me? And my need to succeed at everything? Or at least make it LOOK THAT WAY?
I gave a fake little "ha ha" to show that I was in on the joke, except I still wasn't quite sure what the joke WAS.
But now I wonder if it was a joke at all. Maybe it wasn't snickering. Nearly every other person in the group, when introducing themselves, mentioned college-aged children. Marriages that have lasted nearly thirty years. Now I'm thinking that these people weren't snickering so much as making a sort of "Oh we KNOW how that GOES" sound. A sound of EMPATHY.
Because you know what? This stuff is hard. People keep asking me if Emma is hard and I have to say EMMA is not hard. Emma, on her own, is actually pretty easy. But throw in two preschoolers who rarely nap anymore, the holidays, the dreary dark weather in the Pacific Northwest, a husband who travels for work, and my less-than-suited-to-stay-at-home-motherhood personality and things get harder. As much as I hate to admit it, maybe I'm not making it look as easy as I'd like. I'd love to hear what, "Four, three, and three months" sounded to ears other than mine.
As I was leaving the meeting, one of the women said, "Do you have a picture?!" And you guys, I am TOTALLY the mom busting out the nine million pictures of my baybeee on my phone. I had no shame. Emma in her Christmas outfit. Emma in the bathtub. Emma with her brother and sister. Emma asleep in her crib. "I've been thinking about you," she told me. "How are you doing?"
"It's hard," I said. I know most people don't have this problem, but it was a super huge deal for me to say that. Can something be hard, but also awesome and exactly what you want to be doing at the same time? Because that's what this is.