My love affair with "The Office" has been waning this season. I’m not sure what it is, I just haven’t felt the magic of it lately and my commitment to following along religiously has slacked off. However, last week Pam had her baby and I wanted to watch it so I just caught up with the episode today. (A week later. See what I mean? Slacked. Off.) I found last week’s show to be very entertaining this time around and they won some of my love back, but I was caught off guard by two scenes. The first: Pam was yelling from behind the delivery room door, and I originally thought, “What’s with all the screaming? You’ve heard of the epidural, haven’t you Pam? Please don’t tell me you went all Dharma on me and drank a holistic tea with honey to take the edge off because I would lose all respect. Then again, it would explain the yelling.” So I rolled my eyes a little at the embellished drama emanating from my television when finally, (do I dare say things came to a head?) the scene culminated, the baby came out, smiles and sighs of relief ensued, and the cries of the newborn baby girl wafted through the airwaves and struck a chord within the depths of my menopausal soul.
The scene jumped to Jim and Pam cradling their new bundle in flannel blankets, cooing at her face, pointing out her features and smiling at each other in mutual adoration. And just like that I remembered what that felt like, and…(I cannot believe I am about to say this out loud. Just remember that I am weak, hormonal, completely delusional and prone to singing Celine Dion songs out loud) I missed it. (Why do I feel like I am 16 and I have just told all of you that I am pregnant out of wedlock?) I nervously looked around the room to make sure nobody noticed the sting in my eyes. I caught a glimpse of my daughter, hunched over a homework assignment – her mascara (her MASCARA! Lucas is dead, adults are watching cartoons, vampires are taking over the media AND MY DAUGHTER WEARS MASCARA) was a little smudged under her eyes, her shoulders stooped just enough to give way to the pressure she felt over a looming test – a far cry from the little girl with pigtails who used to attack a jar of peanut butter while I wasn’t looking and crawl in bed with me in the morning to snuggle. I shot a glance toward my son – practicing his mid air leaps wielding a pocket knife, and the sort to use affection as a bargaining chip (Hey Mom, If I give you a hug can I have a cookie?) – he looked a far cry from the boy who used to line up his toy cars in a straight line and carry multiple plastic animals in each hand. I tried to snap myself back into reality by noting, “Yes, but see that snack there that your daughter is eating? She got that BY HERSELF. WHILE YOU DID NOT GET UP. AND P.S. THAT KID IS THE REASON YOU WILL NEVER HAVE TO HIRE A BABYSITTER AGAIN. GET A GRIP ALREADY.” So I did.
The episode continued with shots of Jim and Pam not sleeping, of waking in the middle of the night to diagnose the cries, to feed the baby who wouldn’t latch on and change the diaper that was soaked through, and I went, “Ooohhhh…riiiiiight. I remember this now. See? It’s not all smurfs and butterflies.” But THEN! The baby DID latch on, and Pam got excited and the baby got excited and I heard THAT SOUND. You know the one? There’s a sound that a baby makes when she is hungry – similar to that made after one has crossed the Mojave Desert in August wearing polar fleece and eating nothing but Ritz crackers before happening upon a natural spring – she reaches the fountain of living waters (or in this case, breast milk) and indulges so enthusiastically that one struggles to decipher whether the gasps for air are due to suffocation or satisfaction. And you guys, I am telling you right now that hearing that sound, whether recorded in a Hollywood studio or not, practically unglued me. (Though it does beg the question, how does that sound get recorded? Some innocent lady sitting in the park one day whips it out to feed her crying baby, only to be approached by some TV executive who asks, “’Scuse me ma’am, would you mind if I just slipped this little microphone down there for a second? It’ll only take a minute, and I promise not to linger. It would really help me out. My boss has been BREATHING DOWN MY BACK over this, and...no really, I’m a TV producer. What, you wanna see my business card? Oh, of course, let me just grab it here...whoops! Did I just....? Sorry. My bad. Well, I guess that’s a wrap!”) Anyway, I was taken aback by my reaction to a sound that was emanating from a FICTIONAL story coming out of the television and I realized, "This must be what Patrick Dempsey feels like when there's a medical emergency and everyone looks at him like, 'Well doc? You going to do something or just stand there?' and he has to explain, 'GUYS. It's just a TV SHOW.'" But it didn't matter. I had to admit, if but for a fraction of a second, that I missed it.
Truth be told, it felt good to miss it. Because the fact of the matter is, I love my kids. Did you hear me? I LOVE MY KIDS. I would jump in front of a freight train if it meant saving their life. I have volunteered at their schools, which for me, may as well be hurling my body in front of a freight train. I would climb mountains (as long as I had really good boots), swim across oceans (providing I lose all the weight I need to look good in a bathing suit), and scale any obstacle (as long as it doesn’t involve translating for Ozzy Osbourne) to help my children. But the other hard truth is that being a mother, for me, has not filled me up in the way that I hear some women talk about. It doesn’t feed my soul, I don’t feel like it’s what I was meant to do all my life, I don’t relish most of our days, and I don’t feel like I am doing God’s work. There. I said it. That doesn’t mean I don’t recognize that what I do has value, because I surely believe it does, but that is another topic for another day.
Today, I guess what I mainly wanted to say is that sometimes I really do miss my babies. I don’t want it back, but I hope God is keeping lots of videos for me to watch after I die and go to heaven so I can remember every little good thing that happened here. And I hope He throws out the one where I yell at Drew for getting into my “good” jewelry.