Tuesday, March 23, 2010

One of Those Days

I wake up this morning to an email with some difficult news about a relative who is going through some tumultuous growing pains into adulthood. I feel all kinds of emotions all at once upon reading what this person is going through: sadness, anger, protectiveness, among other things.

I then see that the garbage hadn't been taken out to the curb last night, and I hear the trucks barreling down the street. I feel too much heartache to rush my barely-awake self outside in my pajamas to do the job.

So I take a shower instead, hoping it will clear my head and improve my mood. It doesn't.

We get dressed and go to visit our African grandparents. Because of my mood, I'd just sort of thrown myself together, putting a hat over my unbrushed hair which still smells smoky from last night's bonfire at my friend's farm. We walk into the room and M, the most outspoken member of our group, greets me with a huge smile and wave.

I sit down next to him, and he says, "Lori, today you look like a man."

I could only laugh because it sort of made me want to cry. He said it was the hat. Okay then.

I move to another table to talk with T, a woman who I may have found a childcare job for. We've been trying to find her a job for a few weeks now. In our conversation, out of the blue, she says, "Why you not birthed?" (meaning: why have I not given birth to a child).

I am crouched down beside her chair as we talk, and I smile up at her and say, "I don't know why." She furrows her eyebrows, shakes her head side to side (in what I interpret as pity) and tells me, "You need to birth. All woman should birthed."

Surprised both by the turn in the conversation and the emotions rising in my chest, I manage to respond by pointing upwards and saying, "Well, it's all up to God. He gives what He wants, and I am very happy that He gave me Abe." As soon as I said the word, "God," she started nodding furiously, agreeing that children are a gift.

She patted my hand, and I went to a bathroom stall to cry.

On a day when I wake up feeling fat and greeted with sad news about someone I love, I think I prefer not being told I look like a man and that I should really get on that whole giving birth thing.

When I came back, M apologized for telling me that I look like a man today. I tell him that it is okay, and he says he never meant to say anything hurtful. This is the same man who every week bluntly tells me everything I'm doing wrong in my parenting. So I take him with a grain of salt. I let it go.

T calls me over to her. I sit down in the chair next to her, and she looks me in the eyes. She says she "is very sorry for our conversation before." I ask her why, telling her she didn't say anything wrong, that she was just expressing her belief. She says she didn't know I believed in God. She also believes that God is in charge of our lives, and she was sorry for what she said. We then sit together talking for a long time with her mother, who leaves next week to go back to Ethiopia for six months to visit family. T's mother held my hand in both of hers, stroking the top of my hand the whole time we talked.

Lunch is now over and we get up to leave. T hugs me, the first time she has done so. Her mother does as well, tightly.

Abe runs headlong into M to hug him goodbye. He doesn't give me even one parenting mandate today. He just smiles and waves, tipping his hat to me.

My heart is heavy, but I still believe in a benevolent God, just like T.


coffeemom said...

Well, golly, I just wish I could run over to your house tonight, bringing yummy food and good drink and big bear hugs. And I would hug you tight and listen to all the loops of your day. Then I'd share my aerobically stressful crazy day..and we'd toast each other. (and you'd secretly think inside, good thing she's leaving soon, she's scaring me...who wants that craziness, whew) and then I would leave and you'd go kiss the top of Abe's head as he slept. And I would wish you peace.

You do not look like a man, or fat. And I hurt for you for the other conversations and am glad that woman held your hand then hugged you.

And if you ever need to just talk aobut it, I really really get it. Some would be surprised to know that, But I've been there, done that and I know precisely that hurt, I can feel the hollow of it under my ribs even as I read your post.

Have a better tomorrow. Love m

mama becca said...

oh lori. rough. hop over to our blog and you can see our roughness as well. let me tell you. i looked the part today, too. we just never know when these days will hit, do we??? it's hard. but, your post made me laugh, if that's any consolation. not at you, just with you, i guess. just because i'm wondering when i grew up and life became hard to live sometimes. really hard to live. i never thought that would happen.
love you friend.

Julie said...

I'd like to come right over with Becca and Coffeemom and give you a great big hug and a warm chocolate chip cookie.

Leslie said...

Oh no... sometimes you have to wonder if people listen to what comes out of their mouths.

I'm sorry about your difficult news.

I wanted to let you know that we thought the Ethiopia gather went really really well. I am very excited about the next one. I don't recall who you said made the food, but please let them know it was fabulous.

Even if you aren't having the best day I wanted you to know that you are making things better for our little community.

Leslie said...

And seriously.....you SO do not look like a man.

kn said...

um...the old man was old right?
you are not fat
you are beautiful
the birth thing....
the comments
yes, i too would come over
or have you back in new york again
to eat cupcakes and cry
crying is good
sometimes it's all there is to get over that hill
i'm sorry about you're relative

can we see the hat?

Cindy said...


Claudia said...

I'm hoping by the time you read this it should be tomorrow, and your heavy day will be behind you.

Sorry this comment is so lame. Thinking of you.

Gretchen said...

Oh Lori. Oh dear, sweet Lori. My kids JUST walked into the classroom and I find myself saying with a too-bright voice- "Good morning!"- all in an effort to dodge the tears that want to run down my cheeks after reading this.

I will respond more later.

Loeb, loeb, LOEB.

Oh- and you make Mr. Cookie give you a big hug from me. Got it?

Anonymous said...

Your heart is pure. I'm assuming it is rainy today in your gorgeous state, so I hope for some good phone calls from great girlfriends, some spiked hot chocolate, a great book and a really great movie for you today! You are blessed!

Anonymous said...

Lori, African cultural norms and traditions are quite diffrent from you. In M's belief Hat is for Men so he wants to communicate that but remember the language barrier he had he might sound rude but he is not. With respct to T also it is a language barrier and not knowing what to say when but you are hanging with them by now you know what to expect and the meaning of their comment. I strongly believe they all love you dearly and you are the closest person for them to talk to.Sorry,for the bad news but remember you have the almighty god and his gifts to you Ted and Abe.

Tim said...

Oof. I'm glad this day is over. Lori, you are loveliness.

Jill said...

honestly, i laughed out loud at the "you look like a man today." i'm sure he didn't mean to hurt your feelings, but what an awful thing to hear. hugs to you my dear. you DO NOT look like a man. ever.