I take a deep breath as I turn off the car's ignition, sinking back into the seat. My heart and mind are racing. What was I thinking? Why did I say yes? Can I do this?
She was at the house of "that" mom. The one all the other moms snicker about at the playground. They call her a Stepford Wife. She is always dressed to the nines pushing her baby around int he latest "it" stroller, carrying the most fabulous diaper bag. Always looking put together, not a hair out of place. She is at the playground almost everyday, seems to be there whenever we are no matter the time. I have tried to be polite. Smile, say hello and stay out of the gossip circles. However nothing brings joy to my daughter like babies and jewelry and this women is dripping in both. I didn't stand a chance Peanut was drawn to hear like a moth to a flame.
So here I am sitting in the driveway to her house. The Ivory Tower everyone calls it. Its on the top of a hill. By far the largest house in our neighborhood maybe the largest house in the county. I tried so hard to say no. She was practically begging us to come over for a playdate, didn't seem to mind the 2 year difference in age of our kids. Always a people pleaser and unable to say no to someones face I finally caved,and here I sit. Swallowing the bile creeping up in my throat.
What on earth will we talk about? What could we possible have in common? What will my friends think when they found out I went to a playdate at the Ivory Tower?
"Mama Lets go! Inside! Inside!" Peanut's wails from the back bring me back to reality. In we must go in my coffee stained shirt and Old Navy capris, yep going to fit in just great at this playdate I say rolling my eyes to myself. I unbuckle Peanut and she skips up the walkway. Oh to be young and clueless to the caste system. Unaware that we are so far out of our league here at this Ivory Tower on the hill.
We arrive at the grand door and ring the bell. No answer. Maybe she forgot and we can go home? Peanut is peaking in the windows to the side of the door and is busting with excitement at a rocking horse she sees. Sigh, at least she will get to play with some great toys I think to myself as I lift the heavy door knocker to knock. As I release it down the door opens up, apparently it wasn't closed because no one was there.
I peak my head around the door "Hello? Anyone home?" I call her name and step inside the foyer. I was prepared to be shocked and it is shocking but not at all how I imagined. There is a faint odor of burnt toast, there are clumps of hair in corners and on the floor (cat? dog? probably something fancy like a chinchilla). Peanut ran ahead to where she saw the rocky horse as I slowly walk in taking it all in. It's a grand house that's for sure. Two story foyer, huge chandelier in the entrance. However it's a little messy (like my house) and what should be a formal dinning room or living room is filed with a scattering of toys, no furniture.
That's when a faint sound catches my attention, it's coming form the back of the house. It sounds like someone is crying. I quickly debate picking up peanut and bolting for the door, obviously something is going on, she must have forgot our plans, maybe someone died, I should just leave. But I don't. My feet keep moving towards the crying as thought someone else is leading them there. I find her in the kitchen. Head in her arms sobbing. The kitchen is a mess. Baking dishes, mixing bowls, baby food, it's just a disaster.
I clear my throat hoping to get her attention. She pops her head up startled quickly wiping the tears from her eyes.
"Hi, sorry to just waltz in the door was open. Is everything okay, did I mix up days again I thought we had a playdate...." stammering to get the words out and not sound like a fool from the bottom of the hill I press on, not knowing what to say "we could come back another day if this isn't a good time."
"Oh, no, no, no sorry. Look at this place, what you must think of me. I just...I just..." her word are broken up by sobs and she collapses back down.
"It's just so much harder than I ever imagined. I thought the infertility was hard. I thought loosing a baby was hard. But this" she says sweeping her hands in grand motions around the house "this is harder than anything I could imagine. I just wanted to be a mother, more than anything I wanted to be a mother. Now I am and all i want is five minutes to myself. A shower, to meet people. I am in the house all day and most of the night by myself. My Ivory Prison I like to call it. My son cries all the time. He is never happy unless we are out walking in the stroller. He is up every two hours at night to nurse. I wanted to bake something for this morning while he was napping and than he got up at 5 am, 5AM" she shouts louder "after I just feed him at 3. I am so tired and I just don't have it in my anymore. My husband is desperately trying to keep his company from collapsing and is never home. I'm just so alone." She drops her head and cries deep heaving sobs.
A little shell shocked I sit down next to her and pat her arm.
She shakes her head, through the sobs. "No, No you don't"
I let out a sigh and begin to talk, to tell her about my life. The PPD, the horrible horrible days of darkness and achy to get out but being afraid to leave, going from two kids to one and struggling to balance it. You tell her about your miscarriage, at 17 weeks, just a few short months ago. You talk and you talk and she slowly stops crying and looks up at you and you realize. We're really not all that different.
Suddenly your not so worried about being here in this Ivory Tower because you realize that it's all just a box. Her box is big and shiny, yours is smaller and not so shiny, but inside that box is the same thing. A mother, a women, a wife, a person and I start to wonder what's inside the other boxes that I am afraid to open.
This post is part of Creativity Boot Camp (you should do it too!). Prompt: Ivory. No the pictures have nothing to do with the story but to push myself I have decided to do both a photo and writing form the prompt, because I'm a little crazy like that. You can see the rest of the photos at my Flickr Stream
Ooh..I really liked this. Motherhood really is the great equalizer, isn't it?
What great writing. I think this is the best post I've read all week. It helps to know that other people always have their own burdens to bear no matter what their life looks like on the outside!
Amazing. I loved it. We really never know what is going on behind closed doors. Beautiful story.
How very true.....being a mom is hard enough. Why do we think ourselves into impossible scenarios? It is a relief to find out things are like you said, just a box with the same stuff on the inside.
Oh so true - it's just a box! I love that. And we all have our own issues in the box.
This was so, so good. It's hard to believe we're all so similar deep down, but we are. And it's so good to know that.
Such an amazing post. And so true. We never know what is going on behind closed doors and we all have things in common as mothers.
BRILLIANT! What a wonderful and appealing post. I recognized both characters instantly. Thanks for this bright take on the assignment. Good for you, brave woman :)
You really have a gift for storytelling. I enjoyed this so much! And yes we're all very alike in ways, some younger, some older, all tied together by the string called motherhhod.
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