So I have this friend. For the sake of this blog, lets call her Lyndsay. Because her name actually is Lindsey. (And I’m not good at disclosure.) So Lyndsay. She’s the kind of friend you meet when you’re nervous at college orientation. And at the ripe age of 19, Lyndsay has the ability to recognize that you desperately need her to calmly weave through a crowd of incoming freshmen, introduce herself, ask you if you’re gonna be in Heron Hall - and good Lord save you from the treachery of the “freshman relays”. Lyndsay pretends like it’s not 100% apparent you’re the fish out of water. Fish being me. Water being Sterling, Kansas. “Lyndsay” being the first friend I ever made at college. And 16 years later here we are.
This year Lyndsay had a baby. The second one. The one that makes you think that one felt like none. But you can’t say that to people with just one. You can only say that when you’re half lit on Veuve at 11am on a trip with your college friends. Just for reference, here is a list of other things you can only say half lit on Veuve at 11am on a trip with your college friends:
• “If I only had $300 left, I would definitely use it for botox instead of therapy.”
• “I feel like one tampon at a time just isn’t getting the job done anymore.”
• “I feel like I’m probably much better in bed than my husband’s trainer ever would be.”
• Or in Lyndsay’s case: “Guys, I’m totally pissed about the 1200 ounces of breast milk I have in my deep freeze.”
Hold up. 1200 ounces of breast milk? That’s like saying a truck bed of caviar. I remember one particular Tuesday I was running out the door to work in a hurry and spilled 4 ounces of milk I had defrosted on the counter. I vividly remember it slow motion teetering to the left and slipping through the hand that already held a Diet Coke and car keys - and tragically landed like a dead soldier on the counter. I cried. For approximately forever. Over 4 ounces. Because in mom math, that’s 30 minutes of being hooked up to a machine. 4 ounces. And Lyndsay’s talking about 1200 ounces. Do the math. Carry the 6. That’s 100 hours, folks.
Long story long. Lyndsay’s son won’t take the milk anymore. And she has a lump in her throat telling us she’s feeling torn about donating versus selling it. And it all comes to a head when she gets a tear in the corner of her eye and says “I don’t know. I guess I just kinda want something for it, ya know?” And I’m all over here like “girl, cash IN! Getchu top dollar for that magic milk. I ain’t ever worked harder at nothin’ than nursing.” She’s tried donating it. Something got weird. She tried donating it again. Then some creepy old guy infiltrated the mom website and tried to buy it. So now she’s in witness protection and scarred for life. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. It begins to expire soon. And I’m imagining the visual of Lyndsay standing over the sink watching her throw 100 strenuous hours of her life down the actual, physical, freakin’ drain.
It really got me thinking about what my 1200 ounces are. What is it that I’ve killed myself to pull off - but maybe wouldn’t have had I known it would all be ok if I didn’t? What is it that I’ve poured my heart into because I thought that it was expected - only later to find out that maybe the whole world somehow magically kept turning without it? For me, my 1200 ounces was dropping my son off at school. No one ever audibly told me “that’s what a good mother does”. But that’s what I heard. So for the first year of him being in school, I all but ran over 4-5 small children, broke the speed limit 487 times & prayed my way through just-turned-red lights so that I - queen yes you can - could be the one to watch him run 25 feet in front of me and act like he didn’t even know I was there. I won’t go into the logistics of our schedule, but I will tell you that it was borderline insane (and based on my driving, probably illegal) for me to be trying to pull that off between another school dropoff, a workout and work. But I did it. And I kinda despised it, to be honest. Not the dropping off. Not the time with him. But the trying to do something because I told myself I would.
So this year, I let my husband do it. Almost every damn day. And you know who cares? No one. Ok, maybe there are a few moms that think my son has a handsome, single dad because I’m never there in the mornings. But beyond that, no one cares. Not even my son. He thinks getting to ride in dad’s truck is the shit. And watching them drive away so peacefully in the mornings makes me feel like Lyndsay standing over a trash can with her 1200 ounces. Like, ok. I tried really effing hard at that. And I did it for my kid. And my heart was in the right place. But maybe I wouldn’t do all that again had I known that it was okay if I didn’t. So, boom, imma watch that expectation of myself just circle the drain.
For those wondering - at the time this went to press - Lyndsay’s 1200 ounces were one month from expiring. And I still don’t know any of the other mom’s names in my son’s class.