In another life

I will confess, it was a difficult day. A co-worker's wife has given birth to twins, 26 weekers, and the outcome is not expected to be good. I spend part of the morning closeted in a manager's office, talking about appropriate responses, and caring and how to show love. Knowing that my words failed to explain the situation.

I read Bluebird's post, and it was so beautiful and so truthful, and so terribly painful. It was like being made to watch the footage of a train wreck, over and over again. You know how it will end, you know that you can do nothing to stop it. You know the crash, the bang, the howls will come. And still you sit there, with your hands over your mouth, almost whimpering. You aren't so much whimpering from pain, but from the knowledge that pain is coming. I read the story, knowing how it ended, and I could do nothing. I can't make it better, for her, for me, for my co-worker. But still, I watch.

There are days, and today was one of them, when I feel more strongly that I should still be on maternity leave. When everything goes terribly wrong, and I'm up to my eye-balls in problems, and I'm grumpy and overworked and under appreciated, and I want to look up and yell.

"I shouldn't be here. I should be home with an 11 month baby. I should be on maternity leave, going to the park and play dates and taking my child to the swimming pool and Salsa babies, and cooking up strained carrots. I should be meeting the other mum's in my neighbourhood for coffee, while our children play at our feet. I should be so many places, and none of them are here, slogging away solving problems. I should be in another life."

I went, with all of that weighing on my mind, to the mall tonight. I didn't realize that I'd had the day I had. I was looking for a pair of yoga pants, and maybe a new suit, and Mr. Spit needed new runners. And I walked by the Gymboree sale. Baby clothes. $10. $20.

I didn't shop for baby clothes for Gabe. We are the last of our friends to have kids, and they mostly handed stuff down to us. We didn't need clothes. And everyone told me, I would get so many clothes. I didn't need to buy any. When we took apart the nursery, it was the crib and the change table and the rocker that came downstairs, not clothes. I missed the clothes shopping.

And for just a moment, I could feel my throat tense up. I could feel my eyes fill, see my vision go that terrible blurry/clear from un-shed tears. The self-talk began.

"That isn't your life. You aren't looking for baby clothes, it doesn't matter that there is a sale. Don't look at that woman with the baby in the window. Don't look at the shirt she's holding up, and the child, Gabe's age, who would fit it. Don't look. Your life is here, now, and you are going to buy a suit. To wear to work. For the meeting tomorrow at the branch. You don't have children. You are in another life."

Most of the time, I live in this life. In the here and now, in heels and hose and suits, solving problem. Dancing backwards in high heels, as Mr. Spit calls it.

When I am tired, put-upon, worn out, struggling. I remember. Perhaps I lack the mental fortitude to keep it straight.

But for a moment, in another life.