Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How Kate Met Lydia - Part 2

If you missed Part 1 - it's right here...

I was done. Done in a way that, if I was food, you’d need to throw me out. And if I was a pet, well, it was time. And if I was a mom on the edge, it was time for an injection. A big one. Do they make liquid Xanax?
I kept telling myself, “Just keep walking…smile…be polite…” as I walked out of the preschool. “They don’t need to know you have nowhere to go.  That your life is in free fall. That you’re this close to being Britney Spears minus the paparazzi bearing witness as you shave your head…”
And, then there was Lydia. And she was part oh-yeah-I-sorta-know-you and part life raft.
We’d met before. Sad to say, but she probably met me long before I met her. Because I suck at first meetings. Because I’ve spent my career and therefore my life, ­ meeting people that I will likely never see again ever and so I remember them just long enough for that first meeting to be this great impression and then *poof* they  vanish from my brain. I know it’s horrible, but it’s like song lyrics. Do we really need to remember all the words to Heart’s “What About Love?” Isn’t it enough that we can  hum along when the song happens to come on the radio? Aren’t little refrains enough?

I remembered her from a birthday party and she was pregnant and super nice and all broken-legged healing.  I remembered that I made her family enchiladas, because I’m awesome at Mexican food and who gets that in Virginia? And we chatted and I remembered my children being evil – but what’s new about that?  And then suddenly a year later she’s in the parking lot. And anyone can tell she is ripe for conversation. Like laying on the chaise, tell-me-about-life ripe for conversation. Exactly what I’d been trying to avoid.
And then she suddenly turned into a life raft. And the funny thing is, I didn’t know I needed one.  I just knew I was drowning. 
Lydia: Hey there…
Kate: Hi.
Lydia: How are you?
Kate: Good. How are you?
Lydia: Oh, you know. Fine. [pause] Hey, are you sure you’re OK?
All I wanted to do was to say yes. All lightly and assuredly: “Yeah! I’m great. Fine. Super, in fact.” And let’s face things here: Lydia may have her self-confessed quirks. But on this day and all the days before it, to me, she was Perfect Mommy. She was in charge of all the super important committees at the preschool. And she was the one that showed up with homemade snacks for the whole school just because it was freakin’ Tuesday. And Thumbelina was the angel who was always all ringlets and dresses and “yes ma’am” at school while Lefty was, well, Lefty. And, c’mon, the kid got his nickname from his testicle going rogue, so what does that say when you’re comparing him to the Gerber baby all grown up? She was exactly the kind of person that I didn’t need to talk to. The one who thought her children were perfect all. the. time.
All I could think to myself was “shut up…don’t say anything…smile and wave…smile and wave…” like some Green Beret Penguin on a covert mission. A mission to keep my yap shut.
“All these moms think their kids are just so fabulous, like, all the time. And all I can think about is just how soon I can drop them all off at school and have some freakin’ peace and quiet.”
Oh My Maude.
I had said it out loud.
And then she smiled. And I’ve worked in the news business long enough to know when you just made the day’s headlines. That one statement that will haunt you. The Howard Dean scream. The “Mission Accomplished.” But it wasn’t that kind of smile. It was the smile that made it seem like, if she had a cup of tea and a chaise lounge nearby, she would have invited you to have a sit.
“I couldn’t wait for them to go to school.  And now I don’t want to go home.  I mean, I don’t even think I can turn the car on.  What’s wrong with me?”

I exhaled.  Was she serious?  “I don’t want to go home, either.  Every single thing in that house is a reminder of how much my life sucks and that I am the worst parent in the world.  And you know what, this morning?  I don’t even care.”

My eyes started to water but I blinked a few times and it stopped.  What was I doing?  This woman was practically a stranger and worse, she was part of that coven of super-happy-stay-at-homers that had nothing to do with me or me with them.

I lost the ability to care a couple of months ago.  My teenage sister lived with me until three weeks ago but thank GOD she just left for college and I should feel terrible because all we did was fight before she left and I should miss her and cry about it…  But I don’t.”

I remembered a tall, pretty teenager who looked a young, skinny Lydia with dark hair.  “Oh right.  I saw her one time…  At a birthday party?”

She nodded and said: “Yeah.  That was her.  She moved in when I was pregnant and her mom had just died (we’re half-sisters but whatever what does that even mean?) and she was dropping out of school and her friends were all on drugs and her – I mean, our – dad couldn’t deal so he handed her off to me.  There is not enough wine in the world to handle that…so lucky for the world  that I couldn’t drink.”
My turn. “My daughter can only talk about boobs and she’s just ten. My son thinks the resolution to pretty much everything is to punch someone in the head and the little one is more stubborn than me. And, I suck at being a mom.”
The truth? It felt GREAT. I knew I’d regret it later. And not like Tiger Woods regret, but real regret. Like crap – I let this random woman know my thoughts and now she’s totally gonna blab. Super. Which means we have to quit our preschool and our church.
Her turn: My house is at DefCon 417 and there’s actually not one article of clean clothing in my entire house and the baby hasn’t slept which means I haven’t slept and why in God’s green earth did I want a third baby so badly when I can barely manage the other two?”
I’m not sure who got all teared-up and unable to blink it back first. I’d like to think it wasn’t me.  I know now that Lydia won’t let anyone cry alone so there’s a pretty good chance that I was unwillingly welling up and she just quickly joined in.  Either way, somehow the absurdity of standing in the pre-school parking lot ripping through those super-tiny packages of Kleenex finally made us laugh. Mostly because those little tissues dissolve the instant they touch any kind of liquid. Which completely defies what they were made for right? So there we were, hands full of wadded up clusters of fuzz and little wormy shaped tissue dregs all over our faces, which combined with tears, makeup and mascara made this lovely relief map of DisasterMomistan. Never heard of it? Oh you will…one day.
Kate: I can’t believe you made me cry…
Lydia: [gasps] You totally made me cry.
Kate: You look *awesome* by the way [laughs] so I definitely feel better.
Lydia: Suck it, Fancy! [eyes widen in horror; my face stuck in jaw drop] ohhhhh…
Kate: You called me Fancy?
Lydia: Yeah, well look at you all perfect all the time and I’m like a big mess in yoga pants. And of course there’s something spilled on my boob.  So there’s that.
Kate: [laughs] Oh, am I keeping you from yoga class? I’m sorry.
Lydia: No, I don’t actually go to yoga. I just wear the pants. CRAP! I’m keeping you from work.
Kate: No, I don’t actually go to work anymore. I just wear the shoes.

Part 3 continues tomorrow...

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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