FYI, this is not actually a post about grammar. Honest. I mean, it starts out that way. But be patient.
If someone asks you, “How are you?” how do you respond? Do you say, “I’m good”? Or are you the sort of person who flaunts your grammatical superiority by saying, “I’m well”?
This is a linguistic pothole that drives me quietly mad. I understand the logic behind it; it has to do with the implied “feeling” or “doing” at the end of the original query, and that we must use adverbs to modify verbs, and that if we claim to be good that we are making a quality statement about ourselves that is mayhaps a tad egotistical. (Unless you’re a saint. If you’re a saint, you are allowed to say that you are good without worrying too much about coming across as narcissistic.)
Personally, I’m a big believer in coding — that is to say, we speak/write different ways in different situations, so what is grammatically correct in a technical document is not necessarily the way we have to speak when passing a friend in the hallway. When I say, “I’m well,” I cringe inside — I mean, who talks like that? Unfortunately, the answer is that English teachers talk like that, so I also cringe when I say, “I’m good” — fearing that the other person will think less of me for using the colloquialism. (And when I ask how they are, and they pointedly say “well”? Yargh!) Anyway, I’ve taken to avoiding the situation entirely by making the implicit explicit, and saying, “I’m doing well.” Nothing to complain about there.
Except here’s the thing. What if you’re not “good”? What if you’re better than good — what if you’re feeling great? Terrific? Amazing? Did you notice how I included the word feeling in that sentence but then used adjectives instead of adverbs? No one would EVER say, “I’m doing greatly” or “I’m feeling terrifically.” It would just… no. Not okay.
So look down your nose at me or think I have a big head if you must, but if I’m having a great day, I very well may say, “I’m great!” (And frankly, unless I’m being really cautious, I’m liable to say, “I’m good,” too. You’ll just have to deal with it. Grammar nazi. :))
All of this is an extremely circuitous way to bring me to my point.
I’ve gotten to a stage in my pregnancy where people aren’t nervous about assuming that I’m actually pregnant (probably assisted by the fact that I’m wearing fewer bulky layers, so my bump is more obvious). As a result, I’ve been fielding a new batch of congratulations and a great many queries after my general well-being. And, because it is true, I’ve been answering, “I’m great!” a lot. I mean, I currently lack strength, stamina, flexibility, and a predictable digestive system, and I certainly had some yucky early symptoms. Overall, though, I’ve been blessed with a remarkably comfortable pregnancy. Maybe part of that has to do with how much it was wanted; sheer joy mas probably acted as a sort of numbing agent for the little unpleasantries.
So yeah! I’m great!
I’ve never been very conscious of my own stress. Part of my self-image includes emotional strength; it’s so ingrained in me at this point that I don’t think I could cry amongst friends or colleagues if I had to. In fact, throughout this entire pregnancy, I really haven’t cried (I’ve heard that tears are as much a symptom of pregnancy as is heartburn). Well, okay. There may have been a couple of brief breakdowns in the privacy of my own bathroom early on, but I’m not doing the “boo-hooing at the dog food commercial” thing.
I don’t tend to recognize that I’m stressed out until a physical manifestation erupts; since I carry it in my shoulders, I’ll develop shoulder/neck pain, or a headache. Sometimes I’ll get a cold sore. I’ve had problems with anxiety before, even taking medication for a period of time, and know that it slips up on me like a shark in summer blockbuster waters.
And lately, I’ve been hearing that good ole Jaws theme playing in the background. It’s popping out everywhere…. We had a meeting at work to talk about next year’s language arts curriculum, and my Negative Nancy side flew into high gear — with the principal sitting right behind me! I catch myself getting snippy about dumb things. I catch myself getting mopey about nothing at all. My appetite sucks. My inspiration to do anything sucks. I don’t want to read, watch TV, be online, go anywhere, stay at home, eat (anything but chocolate), sleep, or wake up. And sure, pregnancy hormones, blah blah blah — but there’s something else there, something more in my head than in my bloodstream.
It’s not as if there’s anything to be anxious about when expecting one’s first child, is there?
My house isn’t set up for a toddler. Heck, other than having a nursery more or less assembled (sans mattress, but there’s time, right?) my house isn’t set up for an infant. We need to completely change our housecleaning routine — completely. We need to completely change our entire way of living. Are we going to be able to finally turn into grown-ups? What is wrong with us that we haven’t done that yet? When and how are we going to get a second car that will work well with a car seat? What if the baby comes early? I haven’t cleaned out the back seat yet! It’s a landfill back there! And what are we going to name the darned thing? Why can’t anyone tell me, unilaterally, that one of these names is the right — or wrong — choice? Where’s my brass band fanfare to let me know that we’ve found the perfect moniker? Why doesn’t Ryan know the right answer? I have to make some major decisions about what the next year or so of my career look like, really soon. Speaking of which, what’s it going to be like to leave my kids and my classroom to someone else — even someone I know, trust, and like? I’m going to miss the end of some of my beloved seniors’ high school careers! Will my books be safe? What about my alm0st-finished masters degree? What about 18 or 20 or 25 years from now when my darling little boy takes up with some tacky person and decides to take a job and start a family in New Hampshire, or Japan, or on the Mars colony? What if all of my kids head for the hills as soon as they can? I AM GOING TO DIE ALONE.
Stupid worries, but worries nonetheless, as much as I’d like to pretend they aren’t sitting there in my mind weighing me down. And never mind all of the stress I’d be dealing with from work, baby or no baby — this year at my district would be enough to send anyone to the local bar or therapist’s couch.
Last night, for the second time throughout the entire pregnancy, I really wished I could just take a day off. Kermie was squirmy, and suddenly I felt the weight of all this — how I would never really be alone, or fully myself, again — not in the way I was before. And again, it’s stupid, because I want this like you wouldn’t believe. But it was momentarily rather heavy….
Why am I writing about this? Well, for one thing, I’m trying to keep a real journal of these nine months, and I need to not censor out the stuff that isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. I’m not looking for sympathy, pity, or solutions (although none of these are unwelcome) — I just wanted to be honest with myself, and with anyone who reads this, as I keep this account.
The second thing was that I tentatively connected some dots last night, thanks to the lovely Anonyvox. She started out writing about Restless Leg Syndrome, specifically twitchy-compulsive feelings in her feet. I immediately sympathized, because while this is something I’ve dealt with on a small scale in the past, I’ve really had issues with it in the last month or so — and my usual things that work (Nyquil, massive doses of Advil, large glasses of wine, etc.) haven’t been available to me. Then she went on, and started talking about anxiety disorders. I had never known that RLS/twitchy feet were associated with anxiety! Could it be that my feet are so much worse now, not only because I’m pregnant, but because my anxiety levels are higher than my conscious self wants to admit? It got me to thinking, and thinking got me to writing.
Actually, I’m pretty good.
But I’m also (sshhhh, don’t tell anyone) human. With restless feet.