Cautionary Tale

Saturday morning Carol (I can’t keep up with the tally of mentions, woman, are you satisfied?) came over so that Jon could walk her through a design application. Jon is THAT person, the one you turn to for any and all technical questions, and has helped members of my family and his family and neighbors and plumbers with questions on why come their computer done broke? For all the time he has spent walking my father through The Microsoft Blue Screen of Death we should have wiggled our way back into my father’s will. I was thrown out for that comment I made about Clinton and how I would have lied about it, too.

Leta had taken a terrible first nap, and by terrible I mean not long enough to mask her inner raging beast. This happens a lot, and what I have to do is keep to our schedule and make sure she goes down for her second nap at the PRECISE time so that we can correct the balance of the universe, because if she takes a bad second nap… do you remember that movie The Day After? Where the world has been obliterated?

Jon knows not to question me when I go into Project Prevention of Leta Fallout Disaster Mode, a finely tuned ballet of sorts where I distract the living shit out of that kid and bring her delicately to the crescendo of her second nap where the violins and cellos tremble in unison and hum her softly into a deep, soul-cleansing sleep that will leave her refreshed and bearable to be around. Sometimes the only way to do this is to leave the house, and since Jon was teaching Carol about the various advantages to a trackpad that actually RESPONDS to the touch, I had to go on this adventure alone.


So I packed up the kid and headed to my mailbox because I couldn’t think of anything else to do. We’d done all our grocery shopping and Costco-ing earlier in the week (Just a note here: for those dead souls out there who refer to Costco as “The Costco,” may a house fall out of the sky onto your head and your legs shrivel up underneath it.) My mailbox happens to be in an area surrounded by other shops including a Starbucks, and you know what they sell at Starbucks? SUGAR. So the mailbox seemed like a good idea. Sugar + mail + distracted kid = One Motherfucking Badass of a Mother.

An here’s where my ego begins to unravel.

The first mistake I made was to park the car in front of the mailbox place, because the mailbox place is all the way over to one side and not at all close to any of the other shops. But that didn’t matter at the time. I was going to get MAIL, that I could hold in my hands, and it felt like Christmas and the rush was a little blinding. And because I didn’t think we would be gone for a very long time I just held Leta on my hip. Stupid Motherfucking Dumbass of a Mother.

The lovely woman behind this website sent Leta two pair of Robeez shoes to help keep her socks on. One pair has frogs on them and I opened the package right there at the mailbox place and put the shoes on her feet immediately. ENTER MISTAKE TWO, stage left. Leta screamed the entire time I manipulated her feet into the shoes as if I were severing her feet from her body. Not because it hurt, but because SHE IS STUBBORN and didn’t want to move her feet the way I needed her to move her feet and CURSE YOU, ARMSTRONG GENES.

We headed back to the car to drop of the packaging so that I wouldn’t have to carry it around, and that’s when I should have come back to my senses. Why didn’t I just get back in the car and drive over to the Starbucks? BECAUSE THAT WOULD WASTE GAS AND JUST SCREAMS LAZINESS, RIGHT? But that’s not why I didn’t get back into the car. I didn’t get back into the car because I calculated the amount of energy it would take to just carry her over to the Starbucks versus the energy it would take to put her into her carseat again, strap her in, start the car, drive over, and GET HER BACK OUT, and my math told me that if I had to do and undo that carseat buckle one more damn time I might say horrible words in front of my innocent daughter. I did it for her.

So we began the walk, and it was a walk and a half, not unlike how Moses led his people through the desert, onward and onward, not unlike the Mormon Pioneers trekking across the plains. We walked and walked, or shall I say I walked and walked, and Leta bobbed up and down on my hip, and all of a sudden I remembered, SHIT! Eli’s birthday is on Monday and we don’t have a present for him yet. And the Old Heather flew down from the sky and sat on my shoulder and whispered, “That’s okay, you’ve got the rest of the weekend to go and get something. Relax.” But the new Heather, the Mother Heather, the daughter of The Avon World Sales Leader Heather who is coming into her birthright, this new Heather ROARED from the inside of my body and made my head spin around three times.

The Mother Heather reasoned, “WE ARE HERE. TOY STORE RIGHT THERE. PRESENT MUST BE BOUGHT NOW.” And I couldn’t stop myself. I COULDN’T FUCKING PROCRASTINATE. I had to get Eli’s present right then because it MADE SENSE. OH GOD, what have I become? And as I walked into the toystore and found an age-appropriate, non-flammable present the Old Heather took her devil wings and forked tail and flew off my shoulder muttering “You bitch,” under her breath.

So with Leta on my right hip and a large present hanging in a bag from my left hand I walked over to the Starbucks FINALLY. And the end was in sight, it really was, I could see the light, but that’s when Leta started to squawk. Loudly. In public. And the motherly instinct kicked in once again and I reached for my keys and SHOVED them into her mouth and she couldn’t have been more delighted. And so we were standing there in the middle of Starbucks, Leta with half of a Nissan remote-control door-opener hanging out of her mouth, the present now half-hanging out of the bag, and I couldn’t reach my wallet in my back pocket. Why don’t mothers come with four hands? TELL ME WHY.

So I sat Leta on the countertop to reach for my wallet and at that moment she dropped the keys and even though it was her fault that the keys were no longer in her mouth — IT WASN’T MY FAULT — she began to scream. And right then the present fell out of the bag. And I fumbled to get the wallet out of my pocket, and the moment I brought it in front of me Leta SNATCHED it and grabbed the cash hanging out of the side and stuck it into her mouth.

Dirty, dingy, germ-infested money, in my baby’s mouth. At least she was no longer screaming.

It was in that moment, that horrible, chaotic, sweat-on-my-upper-lip moment, that I looked at the 16-yr-old barista with pleading eyes and said, “No, seriously, I never thought I would become this woman.”