I aspire to be one of those old women who drive a station wagon covered in 78 bumper stickers. It's not so much the station wagon (though I would love an Audi); it's the stickers.
I am fascinated by bumper stickers. And they’re so cryptic. That’s what gets me.
I’ve been seeing these ones that read “IGBOK” and wondered what that means for weeks now. Intrigued, I followed a car into the Target parking lot last week, where I slyly parked and waltzed over to check it out.
In the fine print below the abbreviation, the bumper sticker explained: “It’s Gonna Be OK.”
Which is exactly what needs to be my mantra these days.
Side note: After I made my discovery, I entered Target, managed to get nothing on anybody’s list, and still spend $60.
Never you mind, self: IGBOK.
I’m starting to like this.
So I’m all like IGBOK for a few days.
And then the weekend.
This weekend, the Parenting Universe, as it is wont to do, tested me. To see if I could really embrace some adage on some banal bumper sticker.
Saturday morning, while I was making homemade Berry Blast Oatmeal with soymilk and honey, I heard, “UH OH.”
I looked out on the patio, where the boys were, and noticed dirt raining down everywhere from a huge brown thing whirling in the air. As the dust settled, I saw John holding an empty cardboard box, looking guilty as he stood next to Sam (in his exersaucer), covered in dirt.
“I’m sorry Mom. I was just trying to show Sam how pretty it looks when the particles of dust float in the sunlight.”
It was 7 a.m. and it seemed I had already lived two lifetimes since going to bed.
Never you mind, self: IGBOK!
It occurred to me that I may need to modify the acronym a bit because really? Really? Is everything just gonna magically be OK? Dirt on that sweet half-bald head (and shoulders and ears and down in his onesie is OK? All of this –even before coffee – is OK?
Maybe IMBOK is more accurate. (M = might).
No, let’s not make things complicated, self. Black and white. Just avoid the gray areas.
IIGBOK. It IS Gonna Be OK.
Just put the baby in the dadblame bathtub.
Yesterday. At the park. A little girl is pointing at John-John's painted toenails and saying, "Look Mommy, he's a boy and he has paint. Why is he a boy Mommy? Why does he have paint?"
But then the mom just sits there in her billowy running shorts and says, "I don't know."
Not reasonable. NOT OK.
And John is starting to whine and say "Stop it! Stop pointing at me! It's not good manners to point!"
And my BP is 600/400. (Sam is asleep in the front carrier on my chest.)
But I know enough to know when it is NOT GBOK to discuss this with a preschooler and/or her mother. So, we take off. Me in my Sketchers Shape Ups and John on his scooter. And he is going so fast that I cut through the grass to catch up with him. As I stepped through a patch of clover, I felt something pop under my left shape-up. Looked down and there's a turquoise plastic Easter egg, which has exploded and birthed a small piece of candy, fully enclosed in a wrapper with a ladybug on it. I can tell it's one of those small soft mints that I love. So, since John has not seen any of this, I did it. I ate the candy. I told myself IGBOK and I popped that mint in my mouth and chewed fast and hard.
And then I had a moment of total panic that it was illicit drugs. I remembered the last time I was at this same park and saw a woman, clearly tripping on acid or high on something, going up and down the slides with the preschoolers looking like why had she not ever thought of doing this before now.
Had she also found some ladybug candy in the grass?
I tried to put it out of my mind, but then I started thinking about how I am nursing a baby for crying out loud and the drugs were gonna get into my milk and poison Sam.
Stop it. IGBOK! Remember? IGBOK.
And then I got that diarrhea's-coming feeling. We high-tail it home. I spent an hour in the bathroom.
Later that night, I remember that our next door neighbor's cousin had a b/d party in that exact park and that they had an Easter egg hunt as the activity. I start an email to my neighbor's sister-in-law. But how to word it? Do I confess that I ate candy off the ground at a public place? Finally I pound out something like I FOUND AN EGG AND A PIECE OF CANDY IN THE PARk TODAY ... DID YOU STUFF THE EGGS FOR MAYA'S PARTY WITH LADYBUG WRAPPER CANDY? NOT BECAUSE I ATE ONE ... I'M JUST WONDERING.
She didn't write back for like HOURS. I had more diarrhea.
Finally, the next morning, she writes back that yes indeedy it was ladybug soft mints. Phew.
See! It was OK after all.
I am DESPAIRING about my impending return to work. It’s bittersweet really. I have found that staying home inspires me to brazen perfectionism, whereas working and parenting simultaneously tempers that tendency just a bit.
So far, I am lucky: Sam will be staying with our beloved neighbor one day, my sweet mom one week, and the very-tolerant Husband for the rest of the time til August. So, IGBOK.
But still I despair.
At the same time, I realize that staying home is not my lot. Lately I have found myself doing things like keeping John home from school just to have someone to talk to. And on the days when it’s just me and Sam (and there are no errands to run), I obsess everywhere. I embark on adventurous cooking expeditions with quinoa. I try new mixtures for homemade baby wipe solutions. I weed the garden during naptime as if my life depended on it. I overanalyze the monologues in my workout videos.
Plus, I have my dream job for this time in my life (and, I just got a promotion).
So, I know that IGBOK. But for the first time in my life, I see both sides of the stay-home-or-work argument so clearly.
When John was just a little shaver, I remember when I went back to work part-time, and a family friend said, “Well, it’s hard. It’s hard if you work. AND, it’s hard if you stay home. Parenting is hard, no matter how you do it.”
And of course, her next line was, “IGBOK.”