Yesterday, I was in the UPS store (where I seem to spend a lot of time. What is that? It’s almost as bad as the Quizno’s people knowing my order.), with Dane, when in walked a woman with a tiny baby in a car seat. She sat her car seat next to mine and we had the obligatory is it your first, etc. conversation. She was pretty well put together but she still had that newmommy shell-shocked look around her eyes, and so she says her baby is eight weeks and I tell her Dane is eight months and then, in yet another life moment in which my mouth went completely off on its own without asking permission or even giving me notice it was about to wordvomit, I said:
“It gets better, I promise.”
And I thought, oh hell, now I sound like a total pretentious ass and I suck as a human being (etc., etc.) and she’s going to smile politely and start studying the UPS postage chart like it’s US Weekly or something, but instead, I kid you not, her face sort of crumpled and I thought she was going to burst into tears. And then I thought I was going to burst into tears, and the guy behind the counter who looks like a grandatherly sort but is really kind of an ass was going to ask us to leave before we got snot all over the display of padded envelopes and boxes and bubble wrap. And then she says (in what I suspect was also a sort of word vomit):
And up until that point, the encounter had been a little endearing if also showing my pretentious-obnoxious side, and if only my mouth could’ve waited one second, ONE SECOND, y’all, I might have found exactly the right encouraging thing to say and her whole day (or at least the next half an hour) would’ve been made brighter and more hopeful. But instead, in a remarkable showing of double wordvomit in less than sixty seconds, I cocked my head and smiled and then the smile went all awry and I said:
Yes, that’s right. I chose what might be the absolute worst moment in my life history to choose harsh and unrelenting honesty over kindness and fudging the truth. Her face, I swear to you, fell farther than Mariah Carey’s career after Glitter (which, by the way, being a movie about sparkly butterflies is probably just the thing I would like right now. But I digress). And then I realized what my mouth had done (completely independent of my brain) and I’m all backpedaling about how every baby is different and we had feeding issues and Dane didn’t gain weight and I have a sister-in-law who’s ten-week-old baby is already sleeping through the night, and even though she’s listening (and honestly, listening with a look on her face like she’s gulping in all the adult conversation she can stomach, poor, unlucky woman to be getting that convo from me ) I can see the exhaustion in her eyes and all I can think is seriously, could I be any more of an ass? I signed my receipt semi-backwards and raced out the door so that she actually took a step after me to finish her sentence. When I got to the car I had that argument with myself about how I should maybe go back in and offer her my phone number in case she wanted to get together or needed any help and did I just miss the opportunity to make friends with someone who could potentially live around the corner and loves margaritas and Las Vegas (the town, not the old tv show) and bad reality television? But in the end, Dane was all latched in and I felt bad enough already for not being more helpful and I didn’t want to make it any worse, and so I just started the car and went home. But:
It’s kind of amazing to not be the brand new mommy anymore, because I still feel like the brand new mommy. While I have clearly demonstrated I am not yet good at being the experienced, reassuring mommy, I’m not the completely exhausted, still trying to cobble together four hours of consecutive sleep mommy, either (most of the time, PLEASE KARMA DON’T SMITE ME). And it was amazing and even kind of empowering to have someone look at me like I might actually know what I’m doing. Poor, misled, exhausted mommy, but still. WHOOP, y’all.