I Looked Okay On The Outside

I smiled all of the time
and meant it most of the time
even though some of the times I didn’t want to smile, but actually cry
In someone’s arms
like I was a kid seeking refuge in my mother’s arms after being wronged
except the only wrong inflicted was from myself
my own mind and body.

type-a conference 80s party

Photo credit: The lovely @DresdenPlaid from CreatingMotherhood.com

It felt great to get up and do my makeup. No responsibilities to tackle, no beckons from the next room for a drink, or for a butt wipe. The hotel bed was comfy and Baby V was happily playing on it while I stood alongside her, slurping some room service delivered coffee. I happily tap-tap-tapped the powder to my nose, admiring the morning sunshine through the curtains.

I looked okay on the outside.

After I was fully dressed, primped and prepped and brushed on my head and in my mouth, fake flower in my hair, with actual jewelry on my neck, I strapped Baby V into my Beco and excitedly walked with my roommate to the conference. I felt excited to see my friends, to show off my sweet faced baby, and hug everyone within a smile’s reach.

I even felt okay on the inside. For a while.

As the day wore on, the wear on my body began to wear on my spirit. My daughter was happily passed like bread at dinner between family, but during those times being worn on me, I felt like I was wearing a brick vest. I smiled through the pain. I smiled through the yawns I tried to mask from everyone. I smiled until I couldn’t lift my lips for a smile, and then I hid in a room that had the coffee and comfy chairs, a place I could collapse my fading body in. I was oh-so dragged down tired.

I didn’t feel okay anymore.

I felt I was missing out on the world around me. There was so much going on outside that room, sessions I should be in, things I should be typing, folks I should be visiting, but I couldn’t seem to do it. I felt sunken in quicksand, waving and invisible. I couldn’t type with the baby in hand. I couldn’t enter a room without the baby’s squeals cracking the silence in interruption. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t jedi mind-trick notes written away on a paper without using my hand, or take pictures with the snap-shut of my eyelids, or use my hands for anything other than holding my baby or drinking coffee.

Lolli, me, Baby V and Cecily

Even with loved ones all around me, I felt the seclusion setting in.

I was surrounded by loving friends everywhere my eyes could see, and yet, I couldn’t share with them my feelings. I couldn’t say anything at all. I didn’t want to ask for help. I didn’t want my burden to be their burden, they paid good money to be here and to do what I so desperately wanted to do. I just held my snuggling infant close, smiled at them, cooed at her, and prayed for a solution.

I felt misplaced, like car keys.

Ever since securing a ticket, I had looked forward to “mom’s time away.” Having traveled so many times with Baby Dude before, and even alone since, this time was always time away from the everyday, time away from cooking, chores, cleaning, where I get to do what I want without being tethered to my motherly duties, where I get to relax. But there wasn’t much relaxation, not for long, anyway. My hotel bed saw more of me than my friends did.

I couldn’t enjoy myself.

Even dressed up in my 80’s outfit, hair teased to the side, purple shadow pointing out from my eyelids, I couldn’t force my smile to make me happy. I couldn’t dance with my arms full of chubby baby, so I scarfed down my unhappiness with Donkey Kong decorated carrot cake cupcakes, trying to swallow my unhappiness without choking. I had fun, though, watching everyone else have fun.

Mirrors lie, but artists draw the truth.

I couldn’t get over the lies I saw in the hotel mirrors. I looked so much better than I saw myself in my mind’s eye. I carefully watched others get their caricature done, how great the artist was, how it looked amazingly accurate. He was talented, and I was tempted. I scrawled my name on the sign-up sheet, eagerly awaiting our turn, something I could cherish forever. I expected to meet his eyes as he sketched, hugging my round baby head on my lap for him to see the happy I put on for others. I was shocked to see my unhappy insides portrayed on the outside. It was as clear as the sky that day. He saw right through me.

I had looked okay on the outside, but I never let anyone in on the inside.
They were my friends, and they would have helped me, but I just couldn’t say the words.
Not once.
I don’t know why I couldn’t just let go, let someone else step in and help.
Why was that so hard to do?
Inside I was a wreck, but no one knew it but me.
I looked okay on the outside.
But I don’t want to just be okay anymore. I want to be great.
I need to be great.