What Jerry Seinfeld Taught Me About Time

If you’ve caught an episode of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee or seen Jerry Seinfeld doing stand up recently, you may have had the same reaction I did…

“When the eff did Jerry Seinfeld get so old?”

Sure, it’s been nearly 30 years since Seinfeld debuted, and thirty years changes a person’s face, no doubt.  But it seems to me that Jerry’s face changed seemingly overnight.  How could that be? How could time have passed that quickly? Presumably, time passes at the same rate for ol’ Jerome as it does for the rest of us, why should it be that his aged appearance seems so jarring?  I’ve spent an embarrassing (and likely utterly procrastinative) amount of time wondering about this and I think I’ve figured it out.  My husband and I fall asleep to Seinfeld every single night.  And with its near dominance of the syndicated world, it’s likely you’ve seen an episode nearly every day of your life too.  So in our quotidian lives, Jerry’s Peter Pan complex takes incarnate form: no matter how much time passes for us, Jerry remains 30(ish) years old.  So when I saw him at 60(ish) years old, even though it really has been nearly thirty years, it seemed that all of a sudden, time had gone an made Jerry an old man.  Funny the way time can trick our perception of the passage of our lives.  Or how the passage of our lives can trick our perception of time, I haven’t decided which. (I do have other things to do, after all.)

Why am I sharing this ridiculous theory on a blog entitled “The Truth About Babies?”  So glad you asked, bear with me a while longer and I’ll tell you right to your beautiful face.

“They grow up way too fast.”  “Never, ever grow up!” “Where has my baby gone?” “Treasure every moment, because one day they’ll be grown and gone and you’ll wish you had.”

Heard one of these in your time in the Parenting trenches?  Only a hundred thousand times, right? Until recently, these sentiments have driven me a little bit out of my fucking mind.  Here’s why:

I have never once experienced the feeling that my macushla Boyo is growing up too fast. I have always felt that he is growing up at the exactly right pace.  I feel, not woefully, but acutely alone in this tiny minority, because there is no shortage of the “Too fast! Too fast!” sentiment bubbling out of mouths, written on blogs, memed out the wazoo, and lamented on social media.  But if you’re looking for someone to echo your thought of, “Boy, my kids sure are exactly as old as I want them to be,” or “it’s okay that he grows up, he’s supposed to after all,” or even “Holy shit, I’m glad he’s not [enter terrible age here] anymore,” you’d be better off looking for someone to admit that they give their kid apple juice on occasion. (OMG, y’all, when did juice become an enemy?? Insane.) I don’t look at my bright eyed two year old boy and wish that he were still a baby.  I like the boy he is today.  In fact, he keeps getting more and more interesting, and in addition to loving him more everyday, I find that I enjoy his presence more today that I ever have before. I don’t even wish that he would stay as he is today, as terrific as he is right now. If this better and better pattern holds, Jesus, just how awesome is this kid gonna get? I can’t wait to find out! I don’t wish that time would go quicker (okay, sometimes I wish that, but usually only when I’m counting down the yoctoseconds until Daddyo gets home from work) but when I get wistful for my boy, it’s not that I wish to go back in time, it’s that I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next, who he’ll evolve into next.  Now, I fully acknowledge that having had a very, very difficult time when Boyo was an infant likely plays an Aida-sized role in my not wanting to go back to that time, but there’s also no denying how lonely it can feel to not understand how anyone would want a baby forever and ever amen.

It also makes me nuts when someone (with a loving heart, I’m sure, and a mind toward speaking from hallowed experienced ground yada yada yada) tells me to treasure every moment, because it all goes by so fast and I’ll wish that I had.  The plain, hard truth here is that there are some moments that are simply not to be treasured.  They’re to be giant-glass-of-wine-or-even-whiskey-drunk away (or yoga-ed or meditated or bubble bathed away if you’re a much, MUCH better person than I) and swept into the heap of “Tomorrow Will Be Better, Right…RIGHT??”  I think it does a real disservice to try to convince Present Me that I should deny my true and honestly earned feelings because of what Future Me may or may not feel about it.  I do believe that Future Me won’t give one flippin’ fig about having my nipple nearly torn off for the tenth time today but Present Me is ready to burn the house down over it.  It’s really supremely unfair of Future Me (or worse, Present Somebody Else) to trivialize my actual present feelings in favor of potential future feelings.  We’re all trying to live in the now, aren’t we?  Be more present with ourselves and our children? Instead of treasuring every moment, wouldn’t it be better to treasure the ability to feel however we goddamn feel right here and now and be able to express it without any kind of tsk-tsk?  I think it might.  If nothing else, it certainly helps keep us in the moment.  So choke on that, Future Me. (Also, can I really be the only one that is kinda looking forward to my child being grown and gone?  Not that I want to skip to that time, but truly, isn’t that the whole point?)

Okay, so having been driven nuts by the things that seem to roll so easily off the hoards of tongues of friends and strangers alike, I have to acknowledge that perhaps instead of trying to get other people to stop expressing shit like this, I should try to reframe my reaction to it.  Instead of feeling marooned on the Island of Misfit Mommies because I don’t want time to slow down, I will feel grateful that I do not feel at the mercy of time.  It must be terribly heartbreaking to feel as though time is sweeping away the preciousness of a child’s life, so instead of feeling as though I am missing out on a (seemingly) universally acknowledged perspective (or worse, judging someone else’s perspective just because it doesn’t echo with mine,) I will be thankful down to my bones that I have do not have experience that particular heartache.  I will consider myself extremely lucky to feel unburdened by the passage of time in this manner, and to take any energy spent thinking, “Why don’t I feel that way?” and redirect it as the more powerful, “I’m so glad I feel this way!”

As to the vociferous Treasurers of Every Moment, so sure that I will feel the way they feel when given enough time, I can only suggest that perhaps time only feels as though it has sped away because they are looking back across its entirety.  Jerry Seinfeld seems to have aged all of a sudden because we only think of him as 30 year old Seinfeld or as 60 year old Comedians in Cars, with no real attention or profundity given to all of the years in between (because, I mean, Bee Movie?  Really, Jerry? That’s it?)  Perhaps the same is true of thinking of our children only as babies and then as grown and gone.  There’s an awful lot of room for the stuff of life in the years it takes our children to grow up so when someone looks at me over my screaming, squalling little nightmare and demands that I “treasure every moment” I will try not to get mad.  Instead, I will try to remain grateful that the stuff of life takes its meandering, languid time.  Thirty years may seem like a flash looking back on it, but thirty years takes thirty entire years to live and thank god for that.

Maybe Present Me is just full of shit and Future Me will feel exactly the way the Treasurers think I’ll feel.  All I can do as Present Me is live as honestly and openly as I can in the Here and Now, so my sincere hope for Future Me, if what the Treasurers predict does indeed come to pass, is that I find a way to focus my energy on coping with Future Me’s wistful feelings instead of wishing I could go back and make Present Me (or worse, Present Somebody Else) feel or do or behave or perceive differently.  Because that seems like an absolutely scandalous waste of such precious time.

 

 

 

 

The Kids Are Alright (And I Am, Too.)

Oh, heeeeeey there, y’all!  So nice to see you again!  Have you done something different with your hair?  Looks terrific!

So, yeah, I’ve taken a nice big break from the blogosphere and with a very good reason.  When I started The Truth About Babies, I was an absolutely soggy, water-logged, bedraggled, near-drowning mess.  I had been completely swept away by the tsunami of new motherhood and was tumbling ass-over-tea-kettle in an abyss I hadn’t seen coming.  This blog, and the words I forced upon the undulating inundation of my feelings saved me were the tools I used to save myself.  I found my voice, I shared my truth, I kicked for the surface, and I rode my self expression to the (relative) safety of the shore.  To be less metaphoric about it, things got better.  And better.  And better.  I could take a break from what felt like a mandatory exercise of writing in order to stay even-keeled, and bob along the surface of calmer seas, finally able to be within the experience instead of anchored outside of it, taking notes.  (Okay, I guess I can’t manage less metaphoric yet…I’m rusty and barnacled…  Damn it.  I’ll get there!)

So why am I back now?  Well, for two very teeny tiny reasons:  the two teeny tiny babies with whom I am pregnant.

That’s right, folks, late this September or early October, Team Us is expecting TWINS! (Identical twin girls to be specific, but more on that later.)

If you suppose that the very first words to come tumbling out of my mouth when I learned this news was a series of fucks and holy shits and OMGs and then brilliant combinations of OMGholyfuckingshits, well, then it seems you know me quite well!  (I made the doctor laugh and physician’s assistant blush, I’ll tell you that.) Daddyo reacted in much the same way when I told him.  I was about 8 weeks pregnant and according to the literature, the fetus was the size of a raspberry.  Hoping for a girl, we had been referring to our little raspberry as “she,” so when Daddyo came home from work and asked about my confirmation ultrasound, he asked, “Soooo?  Is she the size of a raspberry?”  To which I replied, “Welllllll….. THEY are the size raspberrIES.” I lost count of the “Shut the fuck ups” at around 15, but it was a stellar reaction and a happy reminder of how well suited my husband and I are for each other.

The haze of shock lifted to reveal a rather stone cold terror.  Twins, really?  REALLY?  How in the wide, wide world of sports are we going to handle twins?  Let’s just don’t even crack open the financial nut yet…let’s just focus on the mental challenge of twins: I had nearly lost my mind in the Dark Days with my darling Boyo, what if the same thing happened this time around, only double the darkness?  How would I ever manage?

It was during this time of chilly, inky black fear (and the early days of what would be twelve solid weeks of the sickest pregnancy induced gastro-intestinal pyrotechnics the world has ever known) that I noticed a sizeable smear of blood on the toilet paper.  My first thought was, “Oh, I’ve gotten my period.”  It wasn’t until the body slam of remembering that I wasn’t supposed to have my period that I realized that something might be wrong.  I wound up in the ER and among the whirlwind of thoughts that blew through my addled brain, one was clearest:  “Maybe this is the universe’s way of knowing that I can’t handle this.  Maybe it would be okay if I lost one or both.  Maybe this is my body is taking care of my mind.”  Of course this line of thinking was not without its guilty emotional counterpart, but the messy truth is that while I was praying, it wasn’t, “Please keep these babies safe.”  The prayer I prayed was, “Please let the right thing happen.”  In the end, the babies were fine.  The bleeding, while diagnosed as “threatened miscarriage,” was normal…just one of those things.  The universe had spoken, at least for now; I had better get used to the idea of having twins.

Two weeks later I was at the park with Boyo.  He had just set foot on the play structure  when I felt a gush of fluid.  I surreptiously pressed a finger to the crotch of my white jean shorts and when I brought my bloody finger into focus, I froze.  I raced to the bathroom, an outraged and whining Boyo in tow.  I tried to keep my voice calm as I explained that I had to go to the bathroom, but with every step I took, both the gush of fluid between my legs and the panic behind my eyes got stronger.  When I finally got us both squeezed into the stall of the public restroom, I pulled down my pants and stared, frozen with horror, at the crimson crotch of my once-white panties and shorts.  There was  so much blood.  And, if you’ll pardon my candor, big gelatinous clumps of tissue that I was sickeningly sure were my two tiny babies.  The race of my pulse thudded out: Stay calm, don’t scare your boy, stay calm, don’t scare your boy, stay calm, don’t scare your boy. Call for help.  It’s time to call for help.  Does this need 9-1-1?  No, this needs Mama. So I called my mother.  And speaking with the kind of cool that only comes when lit from within with panic, like a ice over a flame, I said, “Mama, I am bleeding and it is bad.  I need you come to the park, park at the lot all the way to the right, come into the bathroom and get me, drop me off at the hospital, and then take the baby home.”  Frozen fire chilled in my ear as Mama calmly said, “I will find you. I’ll be right there.”  The lady in the stall next to me tried to hand me some hand sanitizer “for the bleeding” and I croaked, “It’s not that kind of bleeding, but thank you.”  Someone else had begun to dry their hands with the automatic blower, a sound that terrifies Boyo, and so he began to scream like to bring down the walls of Jericho.  Another woman tried to ask me questions, if I was okay, if she could do anything, but I had no answers to those questions and so was unable to respond. There I sat, sweating and bleeding, panicking and staying calm, softly humming to and rocking my hysterical son, barely but stubbornly withstanding the swirling, cacauphonous frenzy of sights and sounds, while I waited for the cavalry.  A single thought bloomed in the chaos, tiny at first, but growing bigger and more powerful with every guh-GUH of my pounding heart.  It wasn’t a prayer.  It was a declaration.

“I want these babies.”

Nine minutes later Mama was there.  Ten minutes after that, I was in the ER.  Twenty minutes passed and my husband came running through the sliding glass doors.  I stood up to receive his big, strong “I’m here now” hug and whispered the thought that had been crashing through my skull, “I want these babies.”  He whispered back, “I know.  I do too.” Mercifully the wait to be taken to Ultrasound was quick, and it wasn’t long after that we learned that babies, once again, were just fine.  More importantly, my cervix was thick and tight, meaning my little chicks were in no danger of slipping out of their nest.  Despite the terrifying amount of blood I had bled and was still bleeding, the kids were alright.  And, armed as I was with a newfound certainty that I could handle anything else that came my way, so long as my twin babies were safe, so was I.

I know the path ahead is an arduous one.  But more importantly, I also know that it’s a beautiful one.  And most importantly, I know that I can walk it.  I will stumble, I will fall, I will dash my foot upon the stones and I will cuss like nobody’s goddamn business.  But, I will lean upon my family, my friends, myself, and (having dusted off the ol’ blog) I will lean on the power of my own expression.  I will tell the truth…the messy, complicated, ugly, whole truth, and having done so, I will pour myself a cocktail and know, deep down in my bones, that everything will be alright.