So on August 17th, I went to the zoo.
That is to say, I was invited to the zoo. For the first time. It was a huge deal.
You see I haven’t been to the zoo before because, well, what occasion would I have had to go? The night before I had gotten together with the women of my infant loss group, all of whom have now gone on to have another child after the one they lost (myself and one other gal were the last to ‘go’, with the other woman giving birth to her daughter 10 days after Cate was born - woohoo!) Another of the women I also work with. She mentioned at the end of the evening that a bunch of women from work were going to the zoo tomorrow and I should come! Meeting around 9:30, they’d be there ‘til noon or so.
Never before had I been invited to such a gathering - I didn’t belong. Or more justly put, I wasn’t a Mom with a living child. They were. It occurred to me that such gatherings probably happened all the time, but I was on the other side of the curtain, sheltered against them. I mean, I know people with kids get together and do stuff, use each other for babysitters on a moment’s notice, plan outings... I just wasn’t aware my co-workerswere doing it.
So very casually she invited me. So momentous was the invitation.
I didn’t even really get it myself until I drove past the entrance and started to tear up as I drove around the park, realizing I had no idea how this worked, where the entrance was, how parking worked, and that I - had - never - been - to - the - zoo before. I’ve driven by it hundreds of times! Seen umpteen pictures of friend’s kids there. It dawned on me that I feel like the zoo is old hat because I live so close and I hear about it so often. Only when I entered the grounds did I realize it was foreign.
I was barely holding it together as I walked up to buy our entrance tickets. It was a beautiful morning. I was going to meet friends at the zoo. I had a stroller. With a car seat. With a baby in it. Couldn’t everyone sense this was a glorious occasion? Couldn’t everyone tell I was no ordinary lady and this was no ordinary baby and this was no ordinary visit to the zoo? Couldn’t they feel the energy and emotion of it?! No one indicated they did. It was ho-hum and something-to-keep-the-kids-entertained and stress-about-keeping-kids-in-check all around me.
Not surprisingly, I went straight for the membership upon seeing it was $18 for an adult to enter. $18 every time I came here?! I’d be coming here a lot now, right? Six times in a year and the membership fee would pay off! Plus I could bring a friend for free. Financially a sound decision. (No mind that Cate won’t have any interest in the zoo for at least another year, if not two.)
Mostly though...there’s The Card. The Card means I’m a bonafide mother. I have a child to take to the zoo. See? I’m a member. That’s how much I go, that’s how much of a right I have to go, that’s how many social excursions I’ll have there, that’s how many memories will be made there. Membership worthy attendance.
Fifty feet past the entrance gate I called Brad in full-on tears. “Guess where I am?!?”, as if he could possibly guess. I hadn’t told him I’d been invited. The zoo wouldn’t enter his brain any more than would the Taj Mahal. He was in a meeting but he stayed on the phone due to the great emotion in my voice...I wish he’d been there to share This Moment. But then I think I’ll get to have Another Moment, the one where we go to the zoo as a family. A Family!!!!!
A great day by all accounts. Cate was oblivious, sleeping through the whole thing.
I don’t care. I’ll hold the glory for both of us.