I had coffee with a friend this morning and feel quite revived and perky. It’s funny how it continues to be a little scary to make such plans, and I continue to feel a little nervous beforehand, but then I have a fun time and when I come home I feel happy and I wonder why I don’t go out more often. (Well, and I wonder why I said so many dumb things. But it gets easier to dismiss those as the friendship gets more established.) Also, I smell delicious from sitting in a coffee/doughnut shop.
I continue to be so, so, so happy with my rainbow flatware. At this point I am so converted to it, and to the idea of owning it, that I think I would buy any set of it I encountered, just to Have It. Paul and I each have a monthly allowance, for things only one of us wants and neither of us needs; the flatware fits beautifully into this category. (Paul generally spends his on cool workshop tools that he wants but doesn’t really need for anything; mine tends to accumulate.)
I just read Roz Chast’s new book Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
I love love love love Roz Chast books and so do the kids, but this is one I think the kids won’t want to read (yet): it’s a graphic (“graphic” as in “graphic novel,” not as in “graphic violence”) memoir of the aging and decline and death of the author’s parents. It is not cheery, but there are a lot of funny parts. It made me feel kind of sad and scared and stressed about my parents, and also about Paul and me, and also about aging and decline and death in general. I realize I am not selling this. But I felt like it was the good kind of sad/scared: an informative, helpful, thought-provoking sort of book—and also entertaining. I liked it. I said to Paul: “I am not sure there could be a book more fitted to my current interests.”
Before I was ever pregnant, I read a lot of books about pregnancy because I was interested in pregnancy and it was something that was likely to be of even greater interest soon. I tuned into things people said about pregnancy and motherhood: real life people, but also people in movies and books; and I was drawn to novels and movies that involved pregnancy and early motherhood. I got a job at a daycare because I was interested in babies, and I asked the moms about their pregnancies and labors and deliveries. I also watched shows like A Baby Story.
I think a lot of times when people say “No one ever tells you…” or “No one ever talks about…,” the actual situation is that people ARE telling, they ARE talking, but it’s hard to tune into things and/or research things before they apply to us. This is where anxiety and what is commonly (and not very nicely) referred to as “over-thinking” serve me well: because I sometimes think (and/or worry) a lot about things before they happen, I get INTERESTED in those things, so I tune in. I don’t think I ever one single time thought “No one ever tells you…” about pregnancy, childbirth, or early motherhood. Things surprised me a little here and there, of course, and other things took some personal experience before I fully understood them, but it was never that sad, betrayed, lonely feeling as if other people could have warned me but inexplicably chose not to. If anything, I thought things like, “Lots of people say X, but really when it happens it’s not so bad.” Like the weeks of bleeding I knew to expect after childbirth: that sounded awful, but wasn’t a big deal at all. Or I worried quite a bit about being naked or partly naked in front of the delivery staff, but by the time things got to that point I was pleased and amazed to find I didn’t care at all. (This is where the anxiety/over-thinking serves me less well: I can spend a fair amount of time worrying about things that are completely fine and/or don’t happen.)
“Parents/us getting old and dying” is something that is happening and keeps happening and will continue to happen. People ARE talking about it; they ARE writing about it and filming it; they ARE telling us about it. My parents are, I hope, quite a long way from that point; I hope Paul and I are even further away from that point. But I’m interested NOW, ahead of time, so I’m tuning in.
I’m trying to draw the line somewhere sensible. On one end there’s “worrying and fretting about things that might not even happen, might not even be issues, and might not be so bad when they happen.” It reminds me of something Augusten Burroughs said in his book This Is How: he recommends that when you or a loved one is seriously ill, you wait to worry about what COULD happen until it DOES happen, because at that point it will just be What Is, rather than The Scary Unknown. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s going into the situation unprepared and unaware, crying out “NO ONE TOLD ME THIS WOULD HAPPEN! NO ONE TOLD ME I’D HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS! NO ONE TOLD ME MY PARENTS WOULD GET OLD AND DIE! NO ONE TOLD ME IT WAS $10,000/MONTH FOR ASSISTED LIVING AND INSURANCE MIGHT NOT COVER ANY OF IT!” I’d like to find somewhere in between those extremes: aware in general of a wide range of possibilities, without spending time getting upset about things that haven’t happened and might not.