Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Faking it by mommy Jess
Recently I committed fraud. A trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles in any state is not usually considered pleasant, but our efforts to become actual legal residents of the state in which we actually reside went surprisingly well. And no, I did not commit fraud in anything related to those efforts, but I did tell what felt like a lie.
Alone in the office, a tiny overheated box with inexplicable signs pointing patrons from one line to another and chains roping off random areas, the two office workers and I chatted about twins as Gus and Greta did their best to destroy the place. Mommy Shana left with them for a minute, leaving myself and the two employees alone. They remarked on the miracle of twins, on how cute Gus and Greta are (thank you very much), how big they were when they were born, how I made it almost full term, how lucky I am to have had a boy and a girl, how lovely a family we were. All these things are true but it felt like a lie.
With a heart as heavy as a stone I smiled and agreed. I stood on the stained carpet and accepted the accolades for all the things I had done right in their books. And while I thought fleetingly of saying, “well, Greta had a stroke so things have been hard” I just couldn’t do it. Not today. Not when all I could see in the back of my mind was the diagram drawn earlier that day by her new orthopedist detailing the slicing of ligaments and stretching of bones he hopes will make Greta more “normal”. I let myself get lured in to that siren song of normalcy and didn’t bother to set the record straight. For a moment I was just one of the girls, sharing birth stories, joking about twin skin (google it people, it’s not cool), and the joys and exhaustions of “double trouble”. And for a minute I knew, I could have been good at this. I could have been one hell of a mother of twins. One who knows where her birth certificate is, remembers the snacks, knows when only a piece of candy will do, and can remember to slap on some lipstick for her drivers license photo. Rest assured I wouldn’t have been that annoying supermom with the perfect figure and the obedient kids who just stepped out of a Gap ad, but I would have been damn fun and damn good at having fun and always brought enough wine to the party for everyone.
I had to come back to the real world some time. I had to watch Greta tumble down the “zany” dips in the play place structure at the most depressing McDonalds ever (seriously, I think there was a ball pit for goodness sake, didn’t those go out with the Regan era?) knowing she was as doomed as Alice falling down the rabbit hole, that she would be trapped forever sliding around a greasy plastic tunnel like a turtle on her back till I came to help her escape. And I watched her realize her fragility and sense the treacherousness as she watched her brother go on without her rather than protesting being left behind and instead return to the table to sit and wait. And now I know that I am not very good at this, because to be good at it means I wouldn’t have to watch this scene and want to level that play place to the ground, I wouldn’t have to cry my way home from every doctor’s appointment, that I wouldn’t have to feel so sick at the sight of her medical records that I hide them in my car, that I wouldn’t be so bitter, so angry, so jealous, so utterly sour that I might be able to make a friend or two, and that and my heart wouldn’t be so frozen that I could see the glorious sunrise each morning above the mountain we know live perched upon and not wonder how Greta would tumble, falling forever unable to stop right down its side should I let her tip over the edge.
All this is not to say that I don’t appreciate my beautiful family as they are. Gus is back to rocking the Village of the Damned bob (paid for this time, so not my fault), Jack has emerged as a leader in social justice inclusion at his school in his own kindergarten politico way, and mommy Shana and I are about to not only legally married but legally recognized parents to all our kids. Chipmunks are nibbling our carved jack-o- lanterns and I fully expect to produce some cute Halloween pics of the kids crammed in costumes impatiently waiting for when they finally get some candy.
Greta, you are already a pro at playing pretend. You feed your babies and line them up and even let them take turns in the swing. One day your version of playing pretend might change. I can’t promise you it won’t hurt to fake “normal”, the closest I can understand is when I was back in the closet in the early 90’s and had to answer weird questions about boyfriends. I hope however, that you give yourself permission to be whoever you damn well please, and to celebrate passing at “normal”, mourn the necessity to do so, or refuse to play that game however and whenever you see fit. And, I secretly hope you do end up one of those super people who make everyone else feel like losers who could never compete with the brilliant, confident woman that is Greta, something tells me you won’t disappoint.