February 29 was a pretty ordinary day, considering it’s the one extra day we get every four years. I’d see an occasional post on Facebook that said, “What will you do with your extra day?” But those were mostly from people like my dear retired father, and I would think, oh I will just continue working and stuff.
It was a wonky day at work, one we dubbed “first Monday.” Super Tuesday was the next day, so we didn’t have students the next day. Essentially, it was a Friday and a Monday for kids, and virtually impossible to get anything done that represented teaching. They were off the chain, and I left there with a tear or two brooding behind my eyeballs.
I ran to Sam’s to pick up a few baby essentials, like formula and diapers because that sweet baby of mine continued to love eating and digesting, and before I knew it, it was 5:00, so it was on to pick her up. I don’t care what I’m doing, if it’s 5:00 it is for sure time to pick up my little. More than that, it was Monday which means B drops her off super early.
Sigh. Even this beautiful season in our life is just so cray.
When I arrived at her daycare (or “school” as we call it to her) she was in the hall with her favorite former teacher, and I joked and said, “Oh no, are you in trouble?” but when my baby saw me, she straight up acted like she didn’t know me. And then, when I went to physically pick her up, she all but refused.
Let’s take a little time out a la Zack Morris, and let me just say how incredibly fortunate I feel that my little miss is loved so well. It’s simply wondrous/amazing/appreciated that so many people in her life fight over who loves her the most/who she loves the most. It’s just the bees’ knees.
Unpause. I know all this, but when I left the parking lot after finally prying her away, being shunned by a ten-month-old, I cried. I was embarrassed. I resented everything in my current lot: the ungrateful students, the atrocities of having to work in the first place, the realization that I’d have to return to work in 12ish hours, B’s busy schedule. Is it even worth it?
I think sometimes it’s easier to blame our surroundings above ourselves. I am admittedly too hard on myself far too much, but I really pondered this, and thought back to the near past with Novella. We’d just come off of a weekend together, yet I don’t know that I truly spent the time with her that I should have. I did a lot of laundry and cleaning while she crawled and followed me. When her crawling around and attempting what felt like a lot of brushes with death, we eventually resorted to her room, an embassy in our little broke down palace.
But, when we rested in her little room, I retreated to the most awesome chair in her room, playing on my electronic device while she played. I checked my Facebook no less than 20 times while she frolicked and begged for my attention. I’d occasionally look up, give her a half-ass reassuring nod. That’s how I inadvertently treated this sweet little girl that I prayed for a solid decade.
Novella is/was a Facebook baby. For years, I shared our gut-wrenching story of infertility and adoption loss via Facebook. When I saw the most shocking plus sign in all of the world, I immediately thought of all the ways I could tell Facebook, and had a photo shoot specifically for Facebook. I vividly remember my heart racing, sitting in Starbucks and posting those pictures shortly following our 13-week appointment. I had a checklist of people to tell individually before I could socially medially say “It’s a girl!” Even after a 32 hour, mostly (but unintentionally, epidurals don’t work for all) drug-free labor, I asked B to take one picture before I hit the hay, and updated my virtual friends to announce her unrushed arrival.
Shortly before I took maternity leave, I had a fascinating and eye-opening conversation with my students about social media and how they felt violated by their parents throughout their lives via social media. I think about my middle sister, and how much she absolutely abhors one specific picture of herself, and would promptly remove it from our family Christmas tree as if anyone ever visited our house, yet my students had countless of those types of pictures and everyone saw them and could reference them without any personal consent.
So, back to Leap Year. Something just clicked with me- and I couldn’t help but notice: the reason my daughter prefers everyone to me is because I prefer everyone to her too. I didn’t mean to, but seriously…why was I wasting so much time, investing and engaging in conversations that truly bore no significance on my actual life?
We would be in a sweet moment, and I would think I need to take a picture, so I can tell Facebook about this.
We would be in a difficult moment, and I would think I can’t wait for this to pass, so I can make a witty joke on Facebook about this.
And worst of all, I would take pictures and hold the button down for a photo burst, not so I could remember every little nuance in her sweet face, but because I wanted to get the best angle. For Facebook.
I’ve learned the danger in absolutes. It’s not that I will never get on the book again, but I see (channeling my inner Joni Mitchell) my life from both sides now. And I believe that once you know better, you do better. Or at least, you should.
After the jump: What I’ve learned so far without Facebook.