Saving the Day

I couldn’t sleep last night.

I wondered what my job is today. A day the world outside is a cruel and random place. A day the reality of living in war-torn nations and towns, a reality I can read about but not understand, a reality I can look at in photos but not see, comes to our backyard, takes our children, and leaves us feeling foolhardy, that we ever felt so safe.

I think about the mothers, mostly. I think about the insistence of life moving along. I think about the mothers whose children’s souls the angels now have, and I think about the women struggling to bring new life – insistent life – into this world, while tragedy is happening. Each of these mothers, overtaken by the tidal wave of her child. Aware of nothing but that child, her baby, her everything, into which she has poured untold gallons of milk and blood and water. The child her body has made, has preferred over its own self, has expelled at the perfect time in determination and terror. The child that has awed her, the child that made her own heart petrify her. How that child is everything.

I think about how everyone we lose is some mother’s baby, and I look at my own baby, who sleeps peacefully or tosses and complains, looking for mama’s skin or milk, finds mama, clutches me. I look at her and I know with everything in me that she could not be safe tonight, and I stare in wonderment that she is. I know then I am the same as these mothers losing their children, trying to keep their children safe in a world that is not safe, bringing their children into the world despite emergencies a few blocks or floors away. We are all on the edge of oblivion. The only thing that keeps us tethered to solid ground is this child, this precious, this flesh from our flesh and blood from our blood.

And I wonder what my job is.

How do you save this day? I am neither doctor nor EMT nor cop nor journalist nor saint. I don’t know how to heal the bloodstained bricks of Boston. I don’t know how to take the mothers in my arms and keep them from sinking over the cliff when their children cannot. I don’t know how to heal the wounded. I want to. But how.

For now I am mothering and praying. I am sinking into the reality that to have my daughter safe, to have my family safe, to be on this side of oblivion for just one more day is a blessing for which I am incapable of feeling sufficient gratitude. So I sit here whispering alhamdulillah, hallelujah, to the empty boxes in my new Boston apartment. I sit here asking God to heal our broken hearts. I sit here asking God to make humanity better, to make us more human, more humane. I sit here praying for the mothers struggling to birth, struggling to feed and keep their children safe, struggling through grief. I sit a mother, in solidarity with all the mothers, a citizen of the world in a way I wasn’t 36 hours ago. I sit here in my new old city, the city in which I met and married my husband, the city in which I have loved and worked and played and cried and learned and grown up, my city. I sit here wanting to heal it, holding my sleeping baby, hoping those can be the same thing.

One day, two pieces of news.

Hmm.  The good news or the bad news first?  Well, the bad news isn’t that bad.  It might not be bad at all.  You can tell me, maybe.

Here’s the bad news.

The bad news is that I went for my regular checkup yesterday, and…….(drum roll) my baby is big. Large.  She is perfectly healthy, she is in the perfect position for delivery, and she is very, very big.  Not like weirdly big, just weirdly big for a barely-clearing-five-feet mom like me.  If she gains weight normally between now and my due date, and I deliver right on time, she’ll be about 8.5 pounds.  Maybe that sounds fine to you…but that is nooooooo joke.  I’ve been dead set on delivering naturally, without meds, and, I mean….I need this baby to cooperate, and not be superhuge.  At least she’s not frail or fragile or unhealthy.  And I know I should be more grateful – totally grateful – for that.  But all morning I’ve just been moping around, staring at myself in the mirror, saying “I’m sorry, body.  As if it hasn’t been rough enough.”

So that was the bad news.  I know, I know, I’m a pansy, and Superwoman would have popped out an 8.5-pounder in one sneeze.  But the whole point is that I’m not her….yet.  Talk to me post-delivery and I’ll probably sound like Leonardo DiCaprio atop the Titanic.  But for now, I’m going to wimp out.

In other news:

I CAN GET IT.  The work, that is.  That wonderful volunteer work I wanted to be doing in criminal defense?  TOTALLY HAPPENING. Monday, at 9 am.  It’s all official and green-lighted, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so giddy to snag an internship.  Because this one, besides being totally awesome, could…..maybe…..someday….transform into a JOB job.  The kind that pays you to do stuff.  And given how long it took me to 1. figure out what I wanted to do, 2. start doing it, and 3. get paid for it….I tell you, never again will I take work for granted.  It’s a huge blessing to get to do something you love with your days.  And to get paid for it….truly super.

Image

Superwoman out.

Nice work (if you can get it)

Here’s how the interview went: pretty well.  Bland description, I know, but you’ll be happy to know that I didn’t dribble on my clothing or accidentally bodycheck anyone with my very, very round self.  I waddled with dignity today.

Here’s the caveat: it’s not as easy as one might hope, succeeding in volunteering one’s legal services.

I just graduated from a decent law school.  I didn’t fail anything (despite the fact that I took a Corporate Tax final while 15 weeks pregnant, after a grueling first trimester….still waiting for my Congressional Medal for that).  I did pretty well in a few of my classes.  I worked for all of my second and third years.  And my admission to the New York Bar is pending.  So after spending, oh, a medium-sized fortune on my legal education and investing more than my fair share of blood (drawn to test for vaccinations), sweat (poured nervously out of my pores every time a seating chart was consulted for call), and tears (so, so many tears), the only question I want to answer when I’m trying to volunteer my services is: when can you start?  

We all have our pipe dreams.

I’ve done a lot of things.  Many things.  ALL THE THINGS.  I worked and traveled for five years between college and law school.  In college, I majored in biology.  Then I went to Cairo and learned Arabic.  I have interned and worked in the offices of professors (2), general counsels (2), and criminal prosecutors (1) since beginning law school.  And I want to work in criminal defense. (More on that later.)

So what’s the problem?  The problem is that for every me, there are about, oh, I’m guessing 100, nay, hoards of law students and recent graduates who have done nothing but live, eat, and breathe criminal defense since before they entered law school.  And some of them are also willing to work for free.

So it’s a little awkward trying to convince someone that my purpose in life is to be an advocate for the downtrodden minorities of the world while they are staring at my biology major/theater minor and frowning in consternation.  But I may have done it today.  I think the trick might be to sit there, rounder than a prize pumpkin, and talk a lot about proving yourself.

Superwoman would’ve done it.  If she were ever preggers.

We start at the very beginning.

Today I have an interview. I’m 33 1/2 weeks pregnant. Should be an adventure.

Before anyone gets too excited about it, this is for an internship. (Okay, okay, I’m totally excited about it. Baby steps.) Let’s hear it for working for free…

I’ll update again post-interview.  Hopefully I won’t spill anything bright on my belly while I’m trying to impress some lawyers.