Monday, October 20, 2008

Coffee and a Lobotomy

I watch the continual ebb and flow of people coming through the door to get their morning caffeine. I note a run of pregnant women coming (and going) on this day. Enjoying their last days of freedom. Ordering a healthy beverage sans caffeine. Probably filled with immense anticipation of this new chapter in their lives. Unaware of the lobotomy that will secretly be performed on them while in the throws of contractions and breathing, so focused they will be on the activity at the other end of their body.

They will think that it is just sleep deprivation that makes them do stupid things that they never did in their “together” life. Their husbands will disappear into the office life and they will lose the ability to speak three syllable words or to stand without rocking back and forth. They will lock their keys in the car, leave the burners on (sometimes leaving the house with things still cooking), spray furniture polish in their hair, leave cash behind at the ATM, try to pay for groceries with the waffle they pull out of their purse and make coffee onto the kitchen floor, forgetting to put the carafe under the filter.

They will fall deeply in love with their little parasite that sucks their identity right out of them. Party conversation will transition from travel and wild adventures to eating eccentricities and inconvenient diaper changes. They will be over-filled with joy when their lifeblood cracks their china face with a toothless full body smile. Their own stomach will cramp, personalizing their child’s pain, with the late night screaming of their little one’s gas pains. They will instantaneously be reduced to a stubborn two (or four or thirteen) year old temperament to match wits and moods with that bundle of dough which is currently snuggly tucked inside their clean, cute perky $300 outfit from the mall’s top maternity shop: gingham blue sundress, tan glowing, radiating off their exposed arms, the only part of their body left un-bloated.

They will be even more shocked than the bag boy when they burst into tears at the grocery checkout when he casually says “you look nice today.” They will struggle with finding the right balance of trust and protection. They will find bravery they didn’t know they had as they fiercely pound the gigantic spider with the closest pair of Stride Rites as if it is no big deal. They will talk calmly and clearly as they fight back nausea cradling their broken bird in their arms, waiting for stitches or splints or ear antibiotics at the pediatrician’s office or emergency room. They will try to teach their offspring the difference between good-natured joking and cruelty when they have barely just learned this themselves.

This wiggly, warm unborn child will someday look at them as if they were never a child themselves and couldn’t ever have experienced the same insecurities, overprotective parents and desire to be untethered and free. But right now, they just can’t wait to fill that Bellini crib with a picture perfect baby: ten fingers, ten toes, one belly button, no hair, trusting eyes and hungry mouth that only they can provide for. Hold on Darling, you are in for quite a ride. Enjoy your coffee. It may be a while, years even, until you are sipping coffee (with caffeine) in quiet reflection, watching the pregnant ladies coming in, ordering coffee before their own lobotomy.
Photo from Firenze, 2005 trip

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