Thursday, September 30, 2010

Where Did You Come From (Or it’s all a matter of perception)

Last year my husband had a reunion of sorts. We were in Ohio for a family gathering and we got together with a group of accountants he’d started out with thirty years ago. And although I went to every softball game, basketball game, and social gathering back then, I was busy having babies. I was tired and possibly not the most receptive to the single men and women and the bar scene they frequented after every game. But I tried. It wasn’t that I didn’t fit in, but these were all professionals and while they were talking about who was making partner, I was just happy I wasn’t leaking breast milk. Imagine my surprise when two of the women began reminiscing with me about the great parties back in the good old days. Maybe they didn’t realize that I wasn’t really a big part of the party scene, or maybe they were just including me in the conversation to be nice. But one of them said something that made me smile. She was talking about the people that had moved on and not made it back for the get together. Many in that profession are moved to other states or even countries when they are promoted.

So this woman says, “God, do you remember that one wife that was always hauling those two kids with her? I remember thinking how horrible it must be to have to drag kids everywhere.”

The other woman took over. “Yeah, I was here when she was pregnant. We were all in our softball uniforms and there she was out to here.” She motioned with her hand and if I had been that big I would have weighed over two hundred pounds. Wait. When I was pregnant, I did.

Here was my dilemma. Do I nod my head? Be the nice one and let on like I’m remembering the same thing? Or do I call them on it? Let them know that back then I was taking care of two babies while my husband was working 800 hours overtime for the good of the company. Trying my best to put on makeup and make it to the game and share in his down time from a high pressure job. Sometimes I would cry on the way to the game because it was just so hard to get two kids and myself ready while trying to look good. Then, standing there next to these petite, professional, single women who had no cares in the world but to be cute and clever, I would question my self-worth. These women spent long days with my husband before he came home to a tired, crazy, emotional female.

So I stood there, listening to them describe the young me and for a moment the feelings I had back then came flowing over me.

“What was her name?” One of the women said.

“It was me,” I said, a note of pride in my voice.

“No, it couldn’t have been you.”

“I’m pretty sure; I was the only one in the group with kids. And I was out to here.” I exaggerated the berth. “Do you have kids?” I asked trying to turn the conversation.

“Yeah, two teenage boys,” the first woman answered.

“How nice,” I said. “Mine are in their late twenties, out on their own and doing wonderfully. We’re very proud, and just think you were there when they were babies. Amazing.”

My husband walked up and put his arm around my waist. “What are you three talking about?”

“The good old days,” I smiled, realizing that was just what they were. Because whenever my wonderful husband wasn’t in the field he would run over and lift our son onto his shoulders, or carry our baby daughter around to show her off to all his coworkers. He’d sit next to me on the blanket and talk and laugh with me and the kids while the others were drinking beer and partying. Then, when they all went to the bar, we would drive to the Dairy Queen and splurge on a banana split, his side chocolate fudge, my side strawberry, with marshmallow dividing the two.

I wish I could have thanked those women for reminding me that for all my insecurities about them back then, I wouldn’t have changed my life for theirs for one moment.