It’s halftime. Game six of the NBA finals. Mavs are up by two. This is where we begin this blog.
By the end of this article, we will know if our Mavs are NBA champs or if they will live to fight another day. In the meantime, let’s talk about you. Especially if you’ve given birth in the last three months.
(Chandler! Really? Your fourth foul? Get your beard together, man. Let it do the talking. Nice shot Berea. You have redeemed that moment of my life. Except you’re too short for that last thing you did.)
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Throughout the finals series, critics have been asking dolefully if King James had been dethroned after a lauded regular season performance. And why? Not because Lebron is a bad player. Pit him against 99.999% of the human population and he is a miraculous human blur. But when it comes down to when it really matters, suddenly people are using terms like “no-show.” I don’t know what will happen tonight, but the week leading up to it has been exhibit A for unmet expectations.
(Wait, why is Barea guarding James?)
As a new mother, you too have expectations. Maybe you don’t see yourself as June Cleaver or Annie Camden from 7th Heaven (do you remember the fabulous high-waistedness of that era?). In your sobriety, you might only hope to fall somewhere between Julie Bowen on Modern Family, and Marge Simpson. You’re self-assured because c’mon, you’ve gotta be better than a yellow cartoon character. Until you realize that you’re not. And her hair, while blue and otherworldly, seems somehow more gracious and patient and shinier than your hair will ever be.
(Bosch a.k.a. Snoop Dog misses his free throw. Gets his second. AND…Finally, Dirk, your first three-pointer!)
You discover that the hype around your impending motherhood was overblown, that you are nothing more than a shorter, softer Lebron. All those friends and older moms who said you were “made” for motherhood, that you are going to be an “awesome mom” — did they know that you will actually be in way over your head and might possibly fail, lose your children and disintegrate in the basement of a mental institution where the food isn’t salted and you won’t even care what you’re wearing? This is the dirty little secret among veteran moms: we have been to the dark side of the moon and the monsters we have seen are terrifying.
But we won’t let on.
We’ll throw unicorn-themed showers for you. Oh yes. We’ll sprinkle glitter on your baby bump. We’ll giggle around your crib. Tee hee. Nobody wants to be a party pooper. Everyone wants to snuggle back into the dream. And besides, what we really want is a miracle, a Michael Jordan of motherhood in our lifetime. We want to believe this woman is possible. You provide that hope, if only for an afternoon of pettifores and clothespin games and tiny sandwiches we didn’t have to make ourselves.
(BAM! JASON KIDD with a rockin’ three-pointer! Seven-point Dallas lead as we wind down the third quarter.)
And then there’s Dirk.
In the past critics have called him No-Win-ski for the way he folded in the 2006 run against Miami after a 2-0 lead. Then there was losing to eighth-seed Golden State the following year in the first round after winning 67 games in the regular season. He just can’t close the deal. The adjective of choice is “soft.” After 2006, my husband announced dramatically that he was done “emotionally investing” in this team because it was just wearing him out. I handed him a Shiner and said go install a shelf and that was the end of it. But Dirk’s legacy limped quietly to the side of the road like an armadillo hanging on to life.
(Ugh. Chandler with his fifth foul. Novinski has four. Yikes.)
But after this series, the critics are unanimous: Dirk hasn’t just remodeled his reputation. He’s demolished and rebuilt it. (Can’t remember who said that phrase exactly, but it’s probably the best description I’ve heard.) I think Dirk’s legacy will hold no matter what happens tonight.
(Terry steals it! Gets fouled. To the line for two. Time out Miami. AND…awesome Etrade commercial with the hilarious baby.)
Here’s the thing about new mommyhood: there are days you will simply have to show up. Most days won’t be about building your legacy because your children, at least for the first four years, won’t even REMEMBER most days. These years are for you. YOU are the real experiencer of your mommyhood in any lasting sense of the word. Comforting isn’t it? So go easy on yourself. Just show up. There will be days you will feel weak and soft, like you just can’t close the deal. But listen, sister, it’s OK. Your legacy will hold.
(Mavs have the largest lead of the game! C’mon Carlisle, tell them not to get ahead of themselves. Dirk seems off tonight. Everyone else needs to be on.)
Here’s the other thing about Dirk: he’s been loyal. After many opportunities to move on to greener pastures and clench the elusive championship, Dirk has said he feels a loyalty to the Mavs and wants to win it with them. That versus Lebron who, by all indications, dropped Cleveland like a hot potato for a shot at the title with Miami.
(Ugh. Bosh. A three-point play. AND…Dirk passes the ball and it’s STOLEN. My husband paces the floor like a cheetah.)
Now you might think I’m about to tell you just to hang in there, like Dirk. Nope. Not because I don’t believe your experience will get better over time, but because there’s another more insidious doubt that threatens you.
(Five minutes left...)
Maybe you’re more like Lebron. Just when you thought motherhood would fulfill you in ways your other job never could, you are totally blindsided. Here you left the minor leagues for what you thought was a shot at the happiness jackpot: BABIES. You should have stuck it out in your chosen field because all these poopy diapers have swindled you. They weren’t exactly part of the deal. You are also abysmally tired. You have sweated through all your nightshirts and sheets like a porous, hormonal camel. Things ooze and burn. You cry about the irregular shape of pancakes. It’s depressing.
You thought a baby would be the ticket to female fulfillment, but like Lebron, have found the journey more difficult than you ever thought possible. In the end you might still win, but the getting there, it’s aggravating. It’s humbling.
(Bam. Dirk makes it a 10-point game again. 2:27 left.)
You might think motherhood is the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life, but this doesn’t mean you made the wrong decision to become a mother. Can I say that again for emphasis? IT DOESN’T MEAN YOU MADE THE WRONG DECISION. Just know that. You ARE cut out for this. You DO belong in the big leagues. Or, the NBA finals, if we’re sticking to our script.
(James sinks a three. Novinski is stripped of the ball, James pulls up for three; too strong. My husband is jumping up and down like a small child.
Wade takes another three-point shot. Misses. Fans are heading for the exits. Dirk lays in another two. Celebrating on the bench… Bosh fouls with 18 seconds left… Mark Cuban is celebrating in that unwatchable way of his. My husband is singing,” the dynasty has failed, the dynasty has failed.”
AND THE DALLAS MAVS ARE NBA CHAMPS. Wait, where is Dirk going? Probably to go cry frothy German tears.)
Hang in there, friend. Your day of triumph is on its way. To quote coach Carlisle, it’s not about what you can’t do, but what you can do. And this motherhood thing, you can do it. You will overcome the Miami trifecta. And win the MVP. And regain your pre-baby jeans and winning personality.
Let me be the first to congratulate you.
(For more from Julie, visit her blog at wetbehindtheearsblog.com.)