Pre-flight Instructions

The passenger should always fit his or her own mask before helping children, the disabled, or persons requiring assistance.

Every plane. Every time.

If you look up at a stewardess while these words are being said, overhead, occasionally she will eye you intensely, while lifting her eyebrows. I know you’re not going to be able to do it, she wants to say, but just think on it — okay?

Hopefully, we will never find out.

*

Here’s what happened in the hospital when I had Oliver. They induced me. It didn’t work. They cut me open. That worked. That hurt.

They gave me some recovery time and then they sent me on my way. They didn’t tell me he came first, though, of course, he did – for a time. I mean, the new ones have to eat like every five seconds. And they are fragile and loud and scared. I rode in the backseat on the way home. He never asked me to.

The backseat just seems to be the place mothers often get relegated to.

*

This week wasn’t so hot. I felt like I could take on the outdoors. Me, my dog, my baby. Everyone would get exercise. Everyone would get sun. Everyone would have fun.

Per usual, it took like two hours to get out the door. By the time I reached the park, I had to pee again and I was starving. I had fed Oliver, changed him, put on his shoes, found Bela’s balls, outfitted us with her leash and poop bags, made sure my phone was charged in case someone tried to kidnap us, sunscreened appendages, packed water. I was so fucking tired by the time we climbed out of the car that I wanted to turn around.

But no. We have one life and this one life we will LIVE! I ran through the grass, behind my little darlings.

Oliver was high up on some playground equipment, yelling in joy, while Bela lay nearby in some shade, when I felt my bladder nearly combust. And my stomach hurt so bad.

I tottered behind him for a few more minutes, begging him not to pick up asshole-teenager cigarettes, and then, before I knew what I was even doing, swooped him up in my arms from behind. Shocked, he yelled. As I leaned into his ear to calm him, I whispered, “I matter, too.”

*

Oliver’s not going to tell me I matter. He may not even know that I do.

I can’t count on him to put my mask on me.

I am lifting the plastic to my face, adhering the straps, and breathing.

We both need me to.

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