Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Choose Life

I could have lead so many lives. In one version I’m still living in South Africa. I've put my law degree to good use and am working in a major firm. I’m rich. Obscenely. But I’m nervous. And I smoke Marlboro Lights and drink a little too much and can’t sleep at night. I’m dating the director of an IT company and we work mad hours and party on the weekends with our similarly wealth endowed friends. We have a holiday house in the Wilderness. We go on game safaris. We have servants. It’s all a little unsettling so I give lots of charity to make up for it.

In another version, I’m still living in South Africa. I've put my law degree to good use and am working in a small legal aid centre. My clients are desperate people struggling with HIV, lack of access to education and, of course, poverty. I’m not wealthy but compared to these guys I’m loaded. I smoke Camel Plain and drink a little too much and can’t sleep at night. I’m dating a black drummer. I work mad hours and get to hear the most fantastic music on the weekends. We have a coffee-coloured child who makes me laugh until I spit. One day I’m hijacked with my child in the car. It’s a little unsettling so I suggest immigrating to the US. We land up in LA where I write a screenplay about a South African lawyer. It doesn’t sell but my boyfriend gets gigs playing Drums for a host of eighties bands on reunion tours. I get Botox.

In the version I’m currently living it’s two oh two am and I’m still recovering from the horrors of the day. I tried to take all three babies out. Apart from the logistics of getting them all in and out of their car-seats, the sheer intensity of being stuck in a car with three screaming babies is something that I wouldn’t wish on anyone except Hitler and Celine Dion. Those bony Survivor contestants have nothing on me. I have an idea for Mark “Big-Wig Producer” Burnett. Try locking your cast in the car with three shrieking infants and see how good their endurance is then. Survive that, publicity hos! Survive endless days that merge into each other so that the only thing that helps you distinguish Mondays from Thursdays is that Desperate Housewives is on one of them and Lost is on the other. Survive completely losing your identity while your former colleagues keep asking you if you’re ever going to write anything again. Survive not earning a cent and having to rely completely on a man you once convinced would never have to support you because you’re not into traditional gender-based roles. Survive being vomited on and pooed on as your brain shrinks while your bum grows in direct proportion to each other.

And my babies are six weeks today and I keep wondering when I’m going to have time to notice them. They’re funny looking. I like how they smell, greasy and just hatched. I wonder when I’ll stop being horrified at the banal exhaustion of my daily life enough to get to know them.

And poor little O, who was an only child for such a brief moment. She’s still not walking. Or crawling. Today a passer-by watching the freakshow that is me and the 3 bubs on an outing asked me how old O is. When I said she’s 14 months the woman asked me what was wrong with her, why wasn’t she walking? “My boys walked at ten months”. I moved quickly away without answering.

I could have lead so many lives. But in this one I got to give birth to 3 amazing children in a year. Shouldn’t that be enough to make me happy? Why can’t I shake that thunderingly loud sucking noise I constantly hear as I watch myself being pulled into a whirling torrent of endless excursions to shopping malls and blurred days of baby-tending and laundry and conversations about feeding schedules. Why isn’t The Miracle of Birth enough to stop me craving Benson and Hedges Special Mild, an entire bottle of Scotch... and an entirely different life to the one I lead?


Blogger Katy Newton said...


Please let me strangle the woman with the walking son.

I don't think you're alone. A few of my friends had babies this year and they simultaneously love their babies to bits and just can't get to grips with the way their lives have changed. The Miracle of Birth is clearly much easier to appreciate when your experience of it doesn't extend past holding your best friend's baby for half an hour.

3:20 am  
Blogger LJ said...

Why? Because you're human? And that's too damn much for anyone to handle without going a little mad?

Fortunately, the babies will not remain babies. Your hormones will begin to behave better. And in the life I imagine you having - you win a prestigious literary prize, become world famous and are declared a National Treasure.

I am never wrong about these things, either.

4:22 am  
Blogger Van Dino said...

Dear Yidchick, I've just discovered your blog. My mum had two sets of twins and me in 3 years. How she survived that I don't know. All I know is she was an amazing woman. From your blog, I can tell you're totally amazing yourself. And you have superpowers as well!

8:25 pm  
Blogger Lin said...

I honestly wish I were there to help you out every now and then. You're exhausted and still hormonally in cloud cuckoo land. I know you know it won't get easier for a while and just that alone has to be doing your head in. Couple it with lack of sleep and the noise of a trio of babes needing something N.O.W. and there are few walking among us who wouldn't be feeling whacky.

What sort of help are you getting right now because if you're not getting enough, I suggest borrowing/stealing/begging some big bucks and getting some reliable help for a while. Even if that help primarily cares for the tiniest ones and you get a little more time just with Baby O, it would seem manageable in comparison. I'm full of advice, I know, but I'm on my way over to my daughter's to watch her tiny one just now and she has just one and is so appreciative of help. Mothering infants is a tough gig.

3:24 am  

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