Monday, February 23, 2009


"And how are you doing?" he asked, to which I answered "fine" too quickly. I'm always suspicious when Rolo's doctors ask me how I am. As if my answer offers them a clue of some sort.

"Well, you seem better than fine. Motherhood really suits you."

I drop the tough-guy act. "Really?" I ask.

"Yeah, you're doing fine. Better than most. You make it seem effortless."

I've heard that, that I make it seem effortless, from enough people now that I'm starting to doubt it's just something polite to say. I don't know why people think this. It takes so much effort that the thought alone of ever having another one is still enough to send me into a panic attack.

I read a book recently with my girlfriends for a book club they started. "Veronika Decides to Die". And the theme that stuck in my head was the (oversimplified) idea that people can chose to "check out" of life and just be crazy. The question is who decides what's crazy, who's insane?

Similarly, who decides what is genuine and what is acted? If so many people think mothering is effortless to me, am I doing a good job of faking it? Or is my view of my own reality distorted? I love, love, love my kid, and I think I'm a good mother. But if you were to ask me my honest view on how my days are, I'd have to say that most days I feel like I'm barely keeping my head above water.

I've spoken about this here before: the idea of having to be all things. Oh, I mean I know I'm not superwoman. The working and the parenting, it's a bizarre balancing act.

So the doctor asks, as a favor, if I would consider bringing Rolo in later this week to allow him to teach medical students to perform pediatric exams. It's a tough week. A budget deadline is looming and I already took this afternoon off for Rolo's actual appointment, so taking more time off to bring him in for a fake appointment is sort of pushing it. However, I do have this doctor's personal pager number. Something pediatricans don't normally just give out to parents. I have used it liberally.

"Yeah. Yeah, of course" I say.

"Are you sure it's not a problem?" he asks.

"It's not a problem. Besides, you've always been so nice to me," I say as tears start to sting my eyes.

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At 8:48 AM, Blogger Christy said...

D, you say so many important things here.

First of all, parenting is hard work. Even when it doesn't look like hard work, I'd never say that to anyone. Obviously being responsible for another human being takes real, sustained, energy draining, effort.

The faking it-- I'm starting to think that it's the key to distinguising the sane from the insane. As long as I get off the couch in the morning and go into work and sit at my desk and don't talk to myself out loud, or cry in public, or curl up in a ball, I'm sane-- even if, in the morning, I wish I could have done all of those in the privacy of my own bathtub.

For me, I know that I need some external help-- different medicine, therapy, etc-- when I can't fake it anymore. When I can't make myself get up and do the things regular people do.

Of course it's work. And of course you do what you can to make it look easier than it is. Because that's what "sane" people do. We hold our shit together, so we can be like everyone else.


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