Front Desk Woman: Volume 3
“You’re breastfeeding, right?” Somebody told Pansy, but she couldn’t remember who. “Well then, you can’t drink that extra large caramel macchiato,”
“Is that a long neck beer?” Asked another random judgment-coated-unsolicited-advice-giver. “You can’t have that!”
“A marathon? Psha. You won’t feel like doing that after giving birth. Try that elderly, gentle yoga class at the Y instead.”
“Looks like you’re having trouble zipping your favorite boots. You know your feet will never go back to the way they were, don’t you? While we’re chatting, nothing will go back. Nothing!”
“It’s all over for you, Mama,” someone simplified everyone’s counsel directly and succinctly. “Life as you know it, over!”
It’d been three long months of this discouragement disguised as kindness from everyone around her. And these were the voices in her head now. Coming in from all directions; she was drowning in them. Even her husband had fallen into the what-do-you-actually-do all-day trap as of late. He’d recently started bringing up the resilient woman he’d met in the gym who’d gone back to work a measly week after giving birth to her twins. Fill-time too, he’d said to his own struggling wife. Incredible, huh? And she’s lost every bit of baby weight.
“Freak of nature, that one,” Pansy replied to him. I mean, what was she supposed to say? Judging such a woman would make her equally guilty as those tormenting her. It would also make her come off as jealous, which she absolutely was. Jealous as a green-eyed monster who couldn’t lose more than twenty pounds of the sixty she’d put on. Also, that poor woman was killing herself. She, like Pansy, needed understanding, not judgment.
Either way, she knew her Nana had been wrong about her. She was no superhero. Actually, she was quite the opposite. She was the woman who couldn’t, now. The woman who shouldn’t.
An unknown telephone number showed up on her caller ID. Pansy quickly swiped right and silently held the phone to her ear, hoping to hear Nana who hadn’t spoken to her since the day she’d given birth. It wasn’t Nana, though.
“Pansy?” asked one voice.
“You there?” asked another.
It was Gertha and Helen.
“Hi,” Pansy said, attempting to hide her disappointed.
An uncomfortable silence came over the three of them. Pansy couldn’t bring herself to ask what they were calling for. Already on the razor’s edge, she couldn’t take another dispiriting cut about what she should or should not be doing now that she was a mother. She was liable to scream, or worse, start throwing her best china at the wall for some sort of release.
“We miss you,” they said in unison, surprising Pansy.
“Can we steal you away from a drunk mom night out?” asked Gertha.
“No doubt you could use it,” injected Helen. “Have you been knee deep in dumb advice from idiots who have no business in your business?”
“We will give you none,” Gertha said as if she’d been on the same cliff Pansy was on right now. “Our only goal will be to get you in a red lip and heels for a few drunken hours.”
“That’s a promise.” Helen laughed and Gertha joined her.
Pansy felt the tears well up in her eyes which were already dry from months of too much crying. This was what she hadn’t realized she needed – mom friends who didn’t pretend motherhood was simple or uncomplicated. Women who didn’t make her walk on eggshells by reprimanding her every step. All along, she just needed to clink wine glasses with her fellow clerical staff at Halleluiah Magazine – Gertha and Helen.
“I’m in,” Pansy said through the happiest of tears.