that’s what i sometimes feel like.
i think i’ve mentioned my younger posh type highly educated neighbors once or twice before in a passing post. the man works and does the school thing. and the lady does the school thing. some form of medical school or other. they usually smell strongly of cologne or perfume, wear tight black fabrics that look good on them, have well-manicured hair. i usually feel the equivalent of a shiftless bum greeting them coming or going, pancake breasts deflated from nursing 3+ years under someone’s second-hand young boys coat, no bra, stained pants, fly away hair, no makeup. not that i’m ashamed. quite the opposite. but young people without kids don’t understand me or my life, so i feel a little self-conscious all the same.
the neighbor lady is taking a leave from medical school. pregnant, i hear. but something is up so she’s on bed rest, was all i could glean from her husband. i hope everything is ok.
also, i hope i’m not freaking her out. she’s usually not around, being so busy with school and all, only stopping in at home to eat and sleep most days. now suddenly, she’s forbidden to leave the house.
and, not that i’m saying that her life is so boring over there that she is constantly watching me, i’m sure she’s got cable and all, but she could if she wanted to. if she was morbidly curious about what might be awaiting her at the end of her nine months of pregnancy. again, i hope i’m not freaking her out.
pancake breasts aside, if she cared to take a gander into ruth’s room when i go in every morning to answer her cranky morning crooning (something like what i imagine an injured whale might sound like), she could watch what is usually her first tantrum of the day through the mini blinds, possibly complete with body convulsions and high pitched whining. she might see me struggling to hold joel on one hip as i try to keep things light, suggest she get pajamas on and come out and have some breakfast while simultaneously picking up old cups and plates from the night before that need to be added to the mountain of dishes i’ll need to do from last night’s dinner while joel eats his breakfast. i might have to put joel down if he begins to writhe and then squelch his efforts at pulling the outlet covers off the walls as ruth and i continue our first morning negotiation. he’s really good at it (pulling out the outlet covers).
a couple hours later, she might see me leave the house with the kids, yelling at the dog, baby crying, snot-nosed, ruth still in her pj’s (all she wears these days), demanding in loud tones which stroller or wagon or tricycle she wants to ride to the park. we struggle our way to the backyard and emerge in a few minutes beginning our voyage to the park. i wear a backpack with all of the essentials: diapers and wipes, keys and phone, breastfeeding cover, water, and then a “snack”, which is really like a 5 course meal, because, let’s face it, i’m dealing with an indecisive crowd. i’ve got all the nutritional bases covered: cheese, fruit, sandwiches. maybe even a carrot or two. some left overs from the night before if i’m really ambitious. it might look heavy to an outsider. like a burden. my kids might seem loud, obnoxious, demanding, over-dressed (they are. but better to be over-dressed than under-dressed if you can swing it. nothing worse than a cold toddler at the park. ouch, my ears).
then, she might notice us coming back in an hour or so, possibly in a fussy state, worn out from the park. needing respite. elmo dvds. possibly a bath or two. books. down time. looking in the window again, she sees us moving from room to room playing and negotiating, breaking down, figuring out our day. jesus, she might think, i’m going back to work after the baby is born asap.
but i’m used to it. i’m used to the slowness of my life, the seeming simplicity of it. i’m used to carrying a lot, wrenching my back, straining my body, thinking of others first, swallowing negative emotions. taking it all on the chin. living life on a minute level.
how this might seem to a young twenty-something focused on career and school, i don’t need to imagine. that was me, after all, not all that long ago. hard for someone like that, anyone really, to look at me from the outside and not feel deathly afraid of procreating. i get it.
just, kindly avert your eyes and we’ll all be fine.