Staying in Oz.

For some unknown reason, late into my pregnancy I got into the soundtrack for the musical The Wiz. Not the original, but the tv adaptation starring Queen Latifa and Mary J Blige. I would sing the songs to the baby in utero.

When I gave birth to Peanut I was in the hospital alone. She was born a little after 4am, and I had been in ridiculous pain for days. It ended up being a natural birth (not by choice but because the epidurnoal failed me), and because it had taken me so long to get pregnant I was terrified and convinced something bad was going to happen to one or both of us. Thankfully I was wrong, and when I woke up a few hours later I was able to see my perfect princess Peanut.

Peanut was born in fall of 2019, and I was on leave for almost the entire first year of her life – meaning, her birth and my subsequent maternity leave rolled over straight into the pandemic and lock down. I had gone on maternity leave over a month before I gave birth. So  I was already home a whole year before quarantine. I got a whole ass year head start on getting cabin fever.

About a week after my leave ended, I found a new job and switched departments. So my life, since I gave birth, has been nothing but change after change after change. While caring for a baby, and starting a new job working from home, there was also the pandemic and lockdown. People I knew got sick. People I knew died. People I thought I knew walked out of my life. People I always thought would be near by moved away. Most of this happening outside of my existence of my daughter and I hunkering down in my house. Most of this happening like as if it was in a movie. I watched from a distance – all these things happened and nothing I said or did seemed to matter. I could not change the outcomes.

After Peanut was born, I still sang her the songs from The Wiz at bed time. It became our theme songs. And even though the world looked different, and life had hit us with twists and turns, we sang our songs.

When the vaccines began to drop, relatives who could afford it came to the US to get vaccinated (and before you judge remember we have so many vaccines in the US that some are going bad and being tossed out). But these are relatives I had little to no relationship with, and with this I was afforded the opportunity to really get to know some of them; Get to have real conversations with them and reintroduce myself the new me – a happy and devoted mom.

And I am indeed a happy and devoted mom. I have realized that what causes me anxiety now is that I don’t want to waste a single moment of it. I want it to happen slowly so I can enjoy it. The thought that it will end some day devastates me to the point of a full blown panic attack. That’s the thing about previously living in depression and anxiety, time didn’t seem to matter. And happiness – which is a new experience to me – seems terrifyingly fleeting. But I try to cherish every moment, singing our songs from The Wiz. Our current car jam being “Brand New Day.”

I recapped to get us to now.  September of 2021. Despite the actions of many, the pandemic is far from over  and I am now facing another loss. My parents have up and moved to Europe. Which during a pandemic with a toddler might as well be an entire other planet. And the most painful part about it is knowing how much Peanut loves her grandparents and how she will no longer get to see them.

Just a couple days ago, we went for a walk and walked past their old house. Peanut immediately ran up the porch and rang the doorbell, and then she climbed on the bench and tried to look over the fence to the backyard where her grandpa always was. She screamed out “Tata” which is what she calls him.  I think that’s when it really hit me. My tiny human was suffering a huge loss and doesn’t even know it yet. And I am devasted for her.

All of this maddness since I had Peanut has felt like some crazy Alice in Wonderland Wizard of Oz fever dream. Crazy people, pandemics, masks, people popping in and out of my life. And I’ve actually at times wondered if something went wrong and I’m actually dead or in a coma. Because everything is so strange. And at the same time that everything is strange and people are being confusing, I have this tiny human that makes everything else going on in the world seem less important. She mutes the chaos, and somehow in this twilight zone version of life I find myself happy. Yes, I have suffered loss and heartache, but I also have gained the most amazing little love. And if I had to choose – if this is a dream – even though there is covid and chaos… don’t wake me up. Wherever Peanut is, is where I want to be. If this is Oz, then send my mail here cause I am staying.

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