Last week, it happened once.
And then yesterday, twice more.
So I really had no choice but to contemplate this situation:
Someone asks me politely how I'm doing. Since I can't subscribe to the predominant, appropriate response right now and answer, "Great! How are you?" and in an effort to remain genuine, I retort, "I'm in baby hell."
And each interaction has gone like this:
"Really? You look so happy on Facebook. I guess that's fake?"
Is it fake? Am I a faker? Have I become loathsome, perennially cheery Julie the Cruise Director? Or worse, am I lying to myself?
Jarred, I had to get all kinds of introspective. I scrolled through my wall and evaluated each post for fakeness. Smiling kids, barbecues with friends, climbing walls, birthday parties. That all happened. It's real. It's genuine. This is my life.
Yes, I have a newborn who, until recently, cried most of the time. Not kidding and not exaggerating. I'm a mother of four; I know what a normal baby is and what a normal baby isn't. We put him on anti-reflux meds last week, and the outbursts have waned. Thank goodness, given that my husband works 50+ weekly, we have three bigger kids, two giant dogs, three ducks and a broken dishwasher. True, I did not post endless pictures of my new baby screeching. Instead, I posted anecdotes and photos of what else is happening in my life.
But why? The dominant feature of my days is the screaming, the nursing, the bouncing, the shushing, the changing, the often fruitless attempts at napping.
Because I consciously elect to highlight the positive aspects of each day.
Because there are some.
And if I fall into the tempting entrapment of "my life is just baby. My life is just the screaming, the sleeplessness" I will gloss over the joy, the embraces, the country music we play on Fridays accompanied by dance parties in the kitchen, the games of keep-away with leftover birthday balloons, the friends who drop by for no reason other than to snuggle my infant and give me a break. In the midst of the "fourth trimester" for a preemie, my life maintains positive chapters. These chapters might last fourteen seconds. They might last three minutes. Or maybe twenty. I choose to highlight them not for those on Facebook who view them, but to remind me - when I feel crappy, when I'm so exhausted I can't handle making coffee, when I have to send the five year old to a birthday party sans-present because I couldn't handle the store - that there are fanciful, jubilant moments. When the screaming returns, I nurse the baby and scroll. I examine my children's faces. There is joy every day. If I don't force myself to experience it and record it and review it, it might pass me by.
And that's the piece I cannot afford.
Post introspection (and I've had plenty of time to deliberate internally on this topic, as it's taken me ten days to write this, one sentence at a time) I have determined that focusing on the uplifting parts of my life is the most genuine I could possibly be.