The Difference Between A Badass And A Jackass?

Here lies a "badass"

Here lies a “badass”

The revolving door spit me straight into The Loft’s sweater section, where patrons like me were offered 50% all new arrivals.  I touched the top row of acrylic cardigans displayed on a table, my hand stopping on the last one (black) while the pain passed and I checked the time.

9:07 AM

I was using the stop watch function on my iPhone, which required me to do math.  “Fifteen minutes,” I said aloud, to a saleswoman who approached me to tell me about the sale I already knew all about, thanks to the seven-foot signage.

Spotting the lounge wear, I bee-lined for the back wall.  My vision was something comfortable but stylish, with the added obstacle that the waist had to be stretchy, since I might have an incision.  I found a striped blue and white outfit meeting my criteria.  Extra bonus: it was vaguely nautical, which seemed cheery because it reminded me of Gilligan’s Island.

I massaged a few more sweaters in the outerwear section and then paid for my new outfit.  The revolving door spit me back onto the sidewalk.

9:23 AM

I had another one sharp enough to take away my congested breath.  When it was over, I shuffled down the sidewalk into my office building, one hand fishing for my access card, the other timing contractions on my phone.

Everyone was expecting me to be out the following week, but no one knew I was actually in early labor as I sat at my desk finalizing discovery requests for a case in New York superior court and preparing to turn my entire caseload over to my colleagues.

My stomach tightened and released all morning long.  The smug smile on my face that no one could see said it all: I’m a mother f*cking bad ass doing my job while having contractions.

By 2:00 PM, the yellow post-it note where I was recording the timing showed my contractions were seven minutes apart.  I shut my door and called the doctor.  I was told to call back when the contractions were two minutes apart.

Still enthralled with my own badassery, I attended a firm party held in honor of the receptionist’s 56th birthday.  “When do you think you’re going to have this baby?” my boss asked, chocolate frosting gathered at the corner of his mouth.

“Probably tonight,” I said, straight-faced.

The horror flashed on his face instantly.  “You probably shouldn’t be here then,” he, the father of three mumbled, cake crumbs raining on his tie.

He didn’t know that I had to be there.  I had something to prove.  I wanted to look back on this last day of work before my second child was born and see myself giving it my all.  I needed to be there alternately gripping the desk while the pain subsided and shuttling my files to and fro.  I still thought the whole enterprise of being a mother was about being this particular kind of badass—the kind that works through labor pains to prove that she’s tough, no—tougher, no—toughest.

I know better now.  I know better than to endanger myself trying to prove something.  I know better than to chance having my water break in the employee kitchen next to the dude from accounting.  I know better than to buy nautical-themed lounge wear.   I know I don’t really have to prove anything.

And I know the difference between a badass and a jackass.


37 thoughts on “The Difference Between A Badass And A Jackass?

  1. I was Christmas shopping on Christmas Eve while I was in labor, along with my mom who is a nurse so I felt OK, and it was early labor. Squido was born Xmas morning! Great post!

  2. I was out shopping with Scott and Milo when I was in labor with Violet. The cashier at Target asked me when I was due and I said, “Probably by suppertime. I’m in labor now.” Poor teen about passed out — she had that look on her face like, “Do I need to boil water and find a shoestring???” Violet was born at 5:35 p.m. I think it was probably carrying Milo through the Home Depot (he was sitting on my belly) that got her moving on out.

    Was I dumb? I don’t know — is it any worse than the women that go to the hospital five times before they’re really in labor? I think anyone can look at anything they’ve ever done and think it was dumb in one way or another.

    And I agree with Alisa — you kick ass no matter what.

  3. I think dumbass is harsh. It’s weird the pressure we put on ourselves to be everything and wear all the hats all the time. I feel like if I had been working instead of dealing with being pregnant and unemployed when I had my daughter, I would have tried the same thing, for the same reasons. Great post, in any case.

  4. I won’t comment on dumb ass or bad ass. But I will say that the lesson you learn about the person you are vs the person you think you need to be in the context of motherhood is a really amazing one, and one that I don’t think you learn all at once. And I’d think you’re amazing whether you’d gone to the office that day or not.

    And nautical? Really? Are there any pictures of this?

  5. I picture you clad in leather with brass knuckles…that’s how badass you are.
    But yeah, you’re right, no one needs to be THAT badass. 😉

  6. I can relate to this so much. Not the being in labor part at the office, obviously, but the burning desire to feel like a complete badass at work, and doing something that might be objectively a little bit ridiculous. Regardless, you are such a badass.

  7. Being a mother is a singular pleasure that I am sure you enjoy. But I have to agree, you have nothing to prove worth risking your safety or the life of your child.

  8. I only know one ‘badass’ woman. She had all three of her children sans any pain meds, she homeschools, she farms(including the slaughtering of her own animals), and she went to school to become an RN. Some days I hate her a little bit. That’s a level expectation that just makes me tired.

    We learn the hard way that we don’t have to be a particular kind of badass to be a mom, we just have to be. Mothers are badass no matter what they do!

  9. This is such a great story for so many reasons! I think it’s a perfect example of both the pride we feel as mothers and the pressure we put on ourselves. I really like Michelle’s comment about the journey of motherhood and how much we learn about ourselves, not just our children. Moms are just badass! 🙂

  10. Er, sounds pretty darn badass to me. If I’m in that mode where I’m trying to prove something, I try to think about whether I’m trying to prove something to others or to myself. If it’s to myself, I can at least find healthy (hopefully) ways to do it.

  11. Ha! This cracked me up! I loved your writing style and I loved the whole theme of being a badass and the tougher or toughest, part. I always get asked this with fellow moms when they talk about labor and how long it lasted and whether or not to get epidural and whether you worked up until your last day. Dude surviving labor and contractions no matter where you are is badass enough 🙂 Good story.

  12. I was terrified that my water would break in court. TERRIFIED. I couldn’t have gone through contractions while at work. Luckily, I started mine in the evening both times. You are a badass. Stupid, but a badass, nonetheless. 🙂

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