I’ve been watching/reading/listening to some inspiring stuff lately. It’s pretty much all I’ve been able to do with my new work schedule and baby girl’s penchant for chaos. But I’d really rather be writing my own stuff. I want to be sending my thoughts out into the universe to see if anything sticks to the debris floating around out there long enough for anyone to notice.
Then I finally finish reading that thing I wrote right after my daughter was born. 53,000 words of mostly true postpartum insanity that basically ends with me sliding on my sun glasses and almost running my husband over in my driveway. And guess what.
That might be it. That might be my big authentic story.
I’m still in hardcore editing mode and all the stuff that comes with self-publishing a book doesn’t seem doable in less than bite-sized chunks over the next couple of weeks and/or months. But I feel like I need to release just a little bit of that tension out into the world.
So here it is, Chapter 1 of Fully Functioning Fangirl: a postpartum decent into absurdity
Superwoman with Needles in Her Pores
That little dance you do with a stranger when you both attempt to pass through the same space at the same time? My husband does that. Constantly. Inadvertently, though, so I can’t even yell at him. Every annoying thing he does is inadvertent. Doesn’t make it any less infuriating.
This morning, he has managed to subconsciously anticipate my every move and finds a way to stand exactly where I need to be exactly when I need to be there. I wish he was the kind of mathematical genius who could apply this talent in other areas, but he’s not. He’s just an oblivious dude who’s always in the way. He gets it from his dad. That man stands in doorways and plants himself in the middle of small spaces. Again, he doesn’t do it on purpose; he just has a sixth sense for maximum spatial disruption and minimal awareness.
When it happens for the sixth time, I’m holding a full bowl of water for the cat which, because that little bastard’s hovering around my feet trying to trip me again, he gets to enjoy externally. His hiss begets a “What the hell?” from my husband which prompts a squeal from the baby he’s holding which is what makes his getting in the way extra annoying. If it wasn’t for her, I think, maybe I could just push him out of the way.
And I want to. I want to push him. I want to grab him and shake him and scream in his face, “I’m so sick of this! I’m so sick of you! None of this is what I thought it would be!” That flash of anger, the sudden flush followed immediately by a thorough loss of energy, that’s my world right now. Nothing makes sense, nothing seems real, and nothing feels good anymore.
Now my socks are wet, as are his pajama pants, as is the top half of the cat.
“Jesus Christ, dude!,” I actually say out loud. “Why are you even here? There is no reason for you to be hovering over the cat food with the baby. Can you just get out of the way for once?”
“I was just walking her for you so she wouldn’t cry,” he snaps back but he’s been on his phone the whole time. His “helping” me with breakfast time means wandering around holding the baby and checking sports scores on his phone while I do all the actual work of making breakfast and loading the dishwasher and feeding the cat.
“The baby is asleep. Put her down in the bassinet and do something useful.” I mutter.
This is what mornings have become. Before the baby was born, we had a routine. Everyone had a job. Things got done. That was what, a few weeks ago? And since then, everything has fallen completely apart. Now it’s just chaos. And by “it”, I mean me. My brain, my emotions, my reactions to everyday events are all freaking chaos. I shouldn’t be this angry. Things have never been perfect with my husband but it’s never made me feel like this, like I want to throw things at his stupid head every time he speaks or acts or breathes in my direction.
“I was trying to help,” he grumbles but he does what I ask. The baby is asleep in the bassinet, the toddler is sitting quietly playing and I’m melting into the floor like a plastic toy egg set on fire, just bubbling and steaming and reeking toxic fumes into an otherwise sterile environment.
“I’m going to shower,” he says without even noticing. He doesn’t want to see it because if he did, he might have to do something about it. And he doesn’t know what to do.
The toaster dings and that sets my toddler off. “Mom, that my waffle? That my waffle, Mom? Mommy, me want my waffle.”
“Yes, baby boy. Hold on a minute!” It would have been nice if my husband had helped clean up the water, or the cat, or stayed in the kitchen for two minutes so he could get the waffle to the whining child, but of course he didn’t. Of course, he left everything to me.
It’s the lack of sleep, I keep reminding myself. It happened with my son when he was a newborn too. Sleep is the glue that holds sanity together and without any of the sticky stuff, all my parts are peeling off.
I need to eat. I haven’t eaten. Why do I keep forgetting to do that?
I take the kid’s waffle out and throw a whole English muffin in. It probably won’t cook in the middle and I’ll probably eat it anyway, along with any leftover waffle my son doesn’t eat. When he first started eating solid foods, whatever leftovers of his didn’t end up on the floor ended up in my face. There never seemed to be enough time to feed myself in those days.
But that’s another of the million things I said I’d do differently this time around, along with an epidural during delivery and pumping milk as soon as possible.
Pumped milk meant independence. If there was baby sustenance readily available without my presence, I’d always have an escape route as long as I could get some other adult to come to my house for a couple of hours. I’d settle for the mailman some days, I swear. Just drag his skinny ass and safari hat into my house, hand him a bottle and a box of LEGOs and finish his route for him so I could take a break.
Today’s going to be one of those days, I can tell. The mailman better cross his fingers that he shows up while I’m in the bathroom or elbow deep in baby poop or he’s going to find himself on the wrong side of a kidnapping.
I’m so irritable, I think as I yank open the toaster oven, I can feel it prickling my skin, the anger forcing its way out like needles through my pores. If I had a moment to sit down and suss it out, maybe I could figure out its root, but the baby’s crying again because she’s cluster feeding and no amount of milk is enough. The waffles are too hot and my son is having a stomp and scream fit. And the cat is crying because apparently, he wanted to drink his water, not shower in it.
“Mommy, foo my waffles!” the boy cries as I plop down on the loveseat with the baby. My nursing pillow is missing again and between the crying and the tantrum, I don’t have the patience to look for it. I hike up a knee, prop that little bundle up on an elbow and pop a boob out of my V-neck. One problem, at least, has been solved. As always, on to the next. In the amount of time it takes for me to get my son to stop crying and bring the damn plate of waffles over to me, it’s already cooled, but I blow on it anyway.
*ffffooooo* “There you go, bud. Now you can eat them.” It’s good enough. For him. For her. For everyone else who doesn’t seem to be complaining. But not, so my gut keeps telling me, for me.