Tuesday, June 26, 2012

How a Handful of Roasted, Unsalted Cashews Spoiled My Day

This morning for breakfast I had a piece of toast with some jam. Actually, it was an untoasted, leftover piece of naan from a package. And because I was still hungry, I stopped to grab a handful of cashews on my way out to Henry's first swim lesson at the Downtown Brooklyn YMCA.

Photo credit: roboppy

That brief interlude in the kitchen, with Henry looking quizzically up at me from the Beco carrier as I crunched happily away, caused me to miss the bus by about two minutes. The next bus wasn't for 20 minutes, which was going to get us to the Y with only eight minutes to spare.

My first thought was to grab a cab, but I couldn't, for three reasons:

  1. In Brooklyn, I've learned the hard way, cabbies respond to your hail not to pick you up but to decide whether to pick you up, based on your destination.
  2. Unless it were a colossal emergency, I wasn't going to take my six-month old baby in a cab without a car seat.
  3. There are no freakin' cabs in Brooklyn, so the whole train of thought was moot.

I waited for the next bus, shielding Henry from the wind by turning my own face into the gusts. The bus was 15 minutes late and packed. I ended up getting off three stops early and huffing it to the Y in my flip flops.

Directions to the pool were something that the Y staff seemed incapable of providing. But when I finally got there, I was 10 minutes late for a 30-minute lesson. I laid Henry down on the bench so I could change him into his swim trunks. As I took off his regular diaper, I noticed that his diaper wasn't very w---

Bam! A fountain of pee spurted out of Henry's little man parts like that of a Florentine statue. Without thinking, I threw myself on it as if it were a grenade. Clear the decks! Henry giggled.

Once in, Henry didn't love the pool. He loves his bath but I think the whole stress of the situation got him down. Reach for the letters! Ring around the Rosie! Kick your feet! Grab the noodle! It was cold and chlorinated, and I had not sung him the "Naked Baby" song,* which precedes every bath. This was definitely not a bath, and his little bottom lip quivered with sadness.

(Speaking of sadness, did I mention that I was wearing a new tankini I bought from Athleta? That's right.  Tankini. Because wearing a bikini would scare the other children. They would probably start crying. I cried instead, in my mind, because I was wearing a tankini. Which is what moms wear. My mom. And her mommy friends. Not me and my mommy friends. Sigh.)

Anyway, I managed to change us both out of our swimsuits after the "lesson" was over. At this point, Henry, fairly traumatized and close to lunch time, decided that he would scream until he got some serious moo cow action. I unclipped half of the Beco and nursed him diagonally across my body while seated on a tiny metal stool in the women's locker room. An older woman approached me (totally naked btw) to remark how cute he was and how much I had going on. She gestured at the two huge bags at my feet, the phone in my right hand and the baby attached to my left boob.

Then she said, And I bet you also work.

I knew what she meant. But I got flustered. I actually started nodding until I remembered that no, I do not work. So I said, Oh, no, I'm on leave right now. (Also not true!) I mean, I'm not working right now, I added quickly. What was wrong with me?

As I made my way to the subway (the bus was on my shit list), I thought about the fact that I was carrying a 15 pound baby on my chest, and 12.6 pounds (yes, I weighed them when I got home) worth of diaper bag accessories (in case of the apocalypse), wet towels and bathing suits. It was 1 pm and I had eaten only a slice of bread, a spoonful of jam and a handful of cashews. I was covered in chlorine and pee. And I was heading to a new mommy meet-up group in the park (awk-ward) to somehow make friends.

This is work, I thought. And it's work I have no training for, unlike my desk job which I had been preparing for since kindergarten. What if I had taken care of children my entire life, and then, at age 36, someone put me in charge of clinical program planning and strategy at a community hospital? Here, why don't you read this one book and take a two-hour class at the Y? Then go run that hospital. It will all come naturally.

Yeah, I know taking care of Henry doesn't require any truly specialized training. But there is a steep learning curve all the same.

By the end of the day -- after a sandwich (finally!), the semi-awkward mommy meet-up and the errands -- I was exhausted. I decided to forgive and forget, to wait for the bus so I didn't have to walk a half hour carrying those extra 28 pounds home. Every bus but mine came, and after ten minutes, I walked. To spite the bus. I wasn't going to wait around for it anymore today.

The elusive Brooklyn bus.

Photo credit: Bitch Cakes
I don't know. Maybe if I had forgone the cashews, I would have made the first bus, and the whole day would have seemed a lot less hectic. Probably not, but I choose to blame the cashews anyway.

Either that or I am still at the beginning of the learning curve.... Damn cashews.

*The main lyrics to this song were developed by our household and go like this:

It's naked baby time, the nakedest baby time, it's naked baby time.
It's naked baby time, when babies get naked time, it's naked baby time.
It's naked baby time, so let's get naked time, it's naked baby time!

You have to be there.