Hi friends. These days, I write a lot on my instagram account (in case you were like, Man, what is Jessica thinking?! Or in case you’re my mom. Actually, she already follows me over there, so maybe this is superfluous. But gosh, it’s 8:23 on a Saturday night, my toddler is asleep, my dog has been walked, TJ is showering, the apartment is pretty darn neat and look at me, having all this time on my hands (I won’t mention the unfolded laundry if you won’t). Enough time, even, to be superfluous. It feels good, guys. Real, real good).
So here are something about me that has changed within the past month or so: I am just about 18 weeks pregnant, and now my body is feeling rather superfluous (I use that word for two reasons: one, in the “extra” sense of the meaning (not the unnecessary sense); and two, because I should probably use the word superfluous at least once a paragraph tonight). My belly is getting bigger, but so is the rest of me; I am also growing a human, so it’s all good.
I feel really grateful to get to be a mama to a whole new person. I love being Charlee’s mama, so if this new experience is anything like the current one–and I think it’s safe to assume that there will at least be SOME similarities (like the kid will eventually call me mom and yell that name at 3am)–then, sign me up. But I also feel a healthy sense of trepidation, because being the mama to a newborn baby isn’t the easiest thing in the world. In fact, I think it’s one of the hardest things I’ve done yet. Well, no–not really. I’ve endured much more painful things, emotionally. But it’s the thing that’s kept me from sleeping the most, and that was hard, guys. It’s hard to be both more exhausted than you’ve ever been and have to give more than you’ve ever given. Both at once.
Somebody told me about post partum mamas in an Asian country–forgive me, I forget exactly which one. But it must be a really compassionate one in which either the women make the rules, or the rulemakers really REALLY love their moms/wives/sisters/you-get-the-point. Because these women have a baby and then THEIR ONLY JOB FOR ONE WHOLE YEAR IS TO NURSE THAT CHILD. That’s it. There is no multi-tasking. No cooking dinner or pumping or going back to work with leaky boobs and terrible rooms that don’t lock and have no electrical outlet for your breast pump. They literally lay in a bed and the child is brought to them when it’s hungry. And if they’re making that good mama’s milk, then the world at large around them is like, “YOU’RE THE BEST MOM EVER! LOOK AT THE ROLLS ON YOUR CHILD’S THIGHS!” And also, “NO, DON’T GET UP! LET ME MAKE YOU A SMOOTHIE AND BRING IT RIGHT TO YOU AND DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH BOOKS FOR THE DAY, M’LADY?”
I admit that I’d probably get terribly bored of laying down for a year, but I wouldn’t mind all that help. Actually, I am a great appreciator of help. You can know your wines and your cars and your Tony winners up and down for the past fifty years, but I know good help when I see it. I’m basically a help connoisseur. I also think that word is really hard to spell. Like, look-it-up-and-then-probably-copy-and-paste-it-too hard to spell. But when I had Charlee Jane here in Boston, so far from my family and friends who feel like family (especially at the time; I think we’d been here for less than two years), I didn’t feel super comfortable just asking for help. You know, like hold my baby while I shower kind of help. Instead, I just didn’t shower that much. But there were two dear friends who not only visited (which I appreciated SO MUCH!)–they also brought food when they came. FOOD. Things that were edible that I didn’t have to put together myself. It was amazing and so practical and so incredibly helpful, considering how hungry I was all the time. Oh, and tired. It also opened my eyes to how wonderful help can be, and how easy it is to just assume that everyone we know in our comfy little American corner of the world is doing totally fine and doesn’t need a lick of help. The truth is we all need help–and sometimes that need becomes more acute.
And now I need to be more on the lookout for people who need help.
Just think: what if we tried to out-help each other? Tried to be the kind of people who not only visit, but also bring food when we do? The thought reminds me of that beautiful lyric:
May there be peace on earth–
And let it begin with me
And to tie things up here before I fold some laundry (It’s okay, I’m not mad; I’m the one who mentioned the laundry, not you), I think I should probably bring back our old friend superfluous by saying genuine help is NEVER superfluous, no matter how many times we give it or get it.
(And you thought I forgot about superfluous. Never ever ever.)