Wherein I Terrify My Children and then Eat Cake
On July 28, 2005, I left my desk feeling gross. I worked in one of those under-ventilated towers, and I hadn't yet earned myself an office with windows. Sometimes a walk in the daylight helped me feel better. Barring that, a gingerale might help, or a slab of fudge or something. Simultaneously starving and trying not to barf, I wondered at the wisdom of the more-or-less month long university graduation celebration. A LOT of wine had entered this body over the last few weeks. And cocktails. And take-out in all of it's salty and greasy glory. And I was likely premenstrual. I had a lot of reasons to take a walk.
As I was walking, I thought about taking an extra few vacation days. I wanted to sit down and really look at my career and where it was going, whether I should go back to school right away or find something in government to build my resume and maybe do some good in the world. Make a tangible difference. Give my one-day children something to be proud of. These one-day children that had been much discussed recently, but weren't a legitimate consideration. Not yet. I knew the stats for women like me. My doctor had advised me more than once that I wasn't getting any younger, and the issues with my cycle and history of anorexia might complicate things. And we were busy. And were still only about 95% sure that a child was a better idea than the beautiful black and white Great Dane that started the argument in the first place.
But still. I wanted the tools to do good things.
And I was also a freakin' idiot.
I must have passed thirty pregnant women on my way to the drug store to pick up some Schweppes and a Mr. Big. Pregnancy tests were on sale. I picked one up and put it back five times. I shrugged finally and paid for it with the rest of my stuff. What could it hurt, right? Walking out of the store, I gunned back my chocolate bar and gingerale and tucked the test in my bag. And then ran like hell to the washroom, where I puked my guts out and considered the possibility...
When I called my husband from the public bathroom in a downtown office tower mall, I felt like my brains had already exploded and were slowly seeping out of my ears. This was supposed to take years! YEARS! And ohmygod, what had all of that wine and all of those cocktails and all of that garbage food and the dental x-ray I had the week before... what had that done to my baby?
And then I went back to work and finished my day as though nothing had changed. It just didn't seem real.
Yesterday afternoon, the kids and I were at the table, poking around at stuff on my computer. We were ready to leave for our Sunday errands, and Mike hadn't quite caught up to us. We were killing time, you know? It was time for our bi-annual Costco run, some books were due back at the library, and we were going to go swimming after. Regular Sunday stuff. I logged into my alma mater's student portal absently, as I'd done at least a thousand times over the past four months.
I clicked on "Check My Program Status", like I always do. The next page was supposed to provide a link where I could view my application, but it wasn't there. Whatever. My husband is a tech at a university. The student portal is well-used, well-supported, and does fail. I was looking for the "system outage" message so I could joke with Mike about it, when I actually read what was on the page:
I screamed for Mike. And I mean SCREAMED. My kids grabbed each other while I put my hands over my face, looked at my monitor again, made more screaming noises and ran downstairs to show him. (Running is not advisable when one has severe strains of the lateral meniscus and ligaments supporting the iliotibial band. Just sayin'.) I screamed his name four or five times before I was completely incapable of forming words. Tears streaming down my face, I held out my laptop so he could see.
He helped me convince the kids that everything was okay. Danica said, "You've got so much joy in your head, it's squeezing all your tears out, Mum!"
I called my Mum and she screamed and cried with me, and then my little household continued with our day. We ate take-out ginger beef and green onion cakes. I cleaned up and got ready for my crew to arrive the following morning. I prayed that my Mum will get her life back today, at her administrative review hearing for foster care. And wondered, as I do, about the construct of religion in our society and the proven strength of hope.
Mike brought home cake and jujubes and we celebrated, on the couch together, this huge, terrifying, wonderful thing.
I'm going to grad school, everybody! I'm going to grad school.
I wonder when it will feel real.