Writer's Note: this is an older blog, but enjoyable. I'm posting it to jump start my blog. Look for more current updates soon!
The TV ads are right - having a baby changes everything. But I think you'd have to be an idiot or Britney Spears to not realize that having a child changes everything. And I have some examples.
This morning my cell phone wouldn't work. None of the buttons responded, except the end call button. I pushed and punched and cussed, but there was still no response. I thought perhaps it was being stubborn because it needed to be charged - my phone gets really tired there at the end of its battery cycle and simply refuses to respond sometime. By lunchtime, however, and after my Chamber of Commerce luncheon it had charged for most of the morning and still wouldn't respond. Concerned, I whipped into my friendly neighborhood cell phone/computer/pre-pay your Cricket phone store for emergency help.
"Oh Ray," I wailed upon entering. He was behind the counter and grinned. I bought my phone in his little strip-mall store, where he takes old phones and fixes them good as new, then sells them for a fraction of the price. I bought my phone, which has a iTunes and sounds phenomenal, for about a third of what it costs at the actual AT&T store. Ray has quite the following.
I looked around and blinked. "You rearranged the store."
He shrugged, "I'm always changing it up." He leaned across the glass display case, where only a few phones lay beneath hot lights, waiting for new owners. "What's up?"
"Oh Ray," I moaned again, "my phone! My phone won't respond! It needs CPR! It needs mouth to mouth." I winked. "It needs your touch!"
He shook his head. I explained my dilemma. He took my phone and opened it, poking around inside it like a grown man playing that Operation game from my youth. I watched anxiously, of course biting my nails, and fully expected to hear a great honk and my phone to light up red.
Ray returned. "It's got something in it," he said. He laid out the flat metal guts on my phone on the display case, and I cringed. I had suspected as much. "See this? This brown stuff? It's dried liquid - I'd say Coke or something."
He said he could "liquid clean" it, but he couldn't guarantee it would work, and it would cost $25. I made a face and he lowered the price, and said he wouldn't charge me if his method didn't work.
After about 20 minutes of Ray spraying and brushing and drying and doing god knows what else, and of me sitting in a quite comfy yellow chair, staring absently off into space, I heard the unmistakable jingle of that plays when my phone turns on. I snapped up. Ray grinned.
"It works?" I asked.
He shrugged. "So far."
I snatched the phone from him and checked for text messages. He said, "What, did you spill something on it, or drop it in something?"
"Nope, I would have told you," I said, sliding the phone into my coat pocket. "I have a two-year old."
Ray's assistant shook her head and sighed. "Enough said. I have one, too. God only knows what that stuff was."
Thrilled and ready to call everyone I know now that my phone worked again, I wheeled out of the parking lot - introducing another toddler-induced malaise of my life: The Toy That Plays Music But I Can't Find In The Vicinity of The Back Seat of My Car.
(Coming soon to a theater near you. Check your local listings.)
"DAMMIT!" I yelled, whipping into my office parking lot while "Do, A Deer, A Female Deer" played jauntily from some undisclosed location in my car.
I have been listening to this freaking thing for nearly a week because I'm too lazy/distracted most of the time to really search for it, instead risking my life and the life of others as I make a half-assed swipe of the back seat with one hand while driving. I've yet to find it using this method.
I jerked open the driver's side back door and glared inside. "Show yourself," I hissed.
"You okay, ma'am?" Called a male voice behind me. We technically park in the Burger King parking lot, next door to our office, to save space for customers. The little old man hobbled closer, peering at me, then past me into my back seat, which is actually clean at the moment. (I made a hasty swipe of my car last weekend in preparation for a date, when I wasn't sure I would drive or not.)
"It's the toy," I explained, leaning in and not really caring that I was pretty much literally showing my ass at the moment to him. Being old, he didn't much care, either. "This toy that starts playing music every time I turn a curve."
Not finding it and not caring to have my ass in his face any longer, I straightened. "But really, I'm fine, thank you, sir."
His face was grave. "Are you sure. I used to be a detective with the sheriff's department. I could help you find it."
I managed to keep my face straight. "Yessir, I'm sure. It'll be okay."
He nodded. "Well, you take care, now."
I smiled, "Thank you, Detective." And the glow of pride on his face made me forget all about my toy trials and tribulations.
Until I get home. Because, you see, another way a child - and in my case specifically, a 2-year old - changes your life is that your stuff is no longer your stuff. You have no stuff. It's all their stuff. And their actual stuff is mainly, in my case, books, puzzles, and toy cars. Lots of toy cars. Toy cars everywhere. Big cars, little cars, cars that talk and cars that shudder to life in the middle of the night when you get up to pee that scare you half to death. Cars between the couch cushions, cars in your panty drawer, cars in the bathroom sink, cars in the lowest bins of the refrigerator (how does he do that? he's so sneaky - it's not like he can open the fridge door himself, someone has to be looming above him as he nestles them among the bottled Diet Coke and pickles).
And, in my case specifically, there is no more sleeping late. I didn't have to be at work until 10 this morning, and I had a bit of a late night last night and wanted, desperately, to sleep in. I might as well had wanted to castrate an elephant in my backyard - I had as much of a chance and would probably have better luck.
It begins with the thud of two little feet hitting the floor at, and this is an approximate time, 5:15 a.m. Little feet padding into my bedroom, shuffling to the custom-made stairs at the foot of my bed. Despite my super-Mom hearing even in my sleep and knowing what will happen, I sigh and roll over, my back to the heavy little body crawling up the length of my body.
Now, some people have sweet children who caress them and murmur to them to wake a parent. And sometimes my son is sweet. But usually its:
I generally try to ignore this.
"Mommy. Heeey, Mommy."
"Mommy, wha-wha you doing?" He does not stutter, normally, but he does when he says this one phrase.
"Sleeping. Go away."
Generally followed by either a gentle slap on my cheek or, if he's still behind me, he'll crawl over my head or place his cheek on mine, a chubby little hand slipping beneath my ear, cradling my face. "Mommy, waaake up!"
"How 'bout no?"
"How 'bout yes! Hey Mommy, I need chocolate milk in my sippy."
"So go fix it."
"Mommy, I can't do that. You know better than that." This is his newest phrase. Apparently everything I do is wrong, and I know better.
"God, so learn. Mommy is asleep. It's too early for Mommies, Draper."
"Mommy, put you glasses on." I wear contacts, glasses at night. He knows that the first sign of my getting up and out of bed is putting on my glasses, cause I'm blind as a bat. Glasses shoved at my nose. "Mommy, glasses. Put them on, please. Get up. I need chocolate milk in my sippy."
"Mommy. I need Jelly Bellies."
Thank you, Dad and Vanda, for the coin-operated Jelly Belly gumball-type novelty machine for Christmas. Thank you.
"No, you don't."
"Mommy. I need cracker fish." Goldfish Crackers.
"So go get them."
"Okay. I be right back." He slides off the bed backward, like a penguin slipping off an iceburg into the sea. Shuffling steps to the door, then, "Mommy?"
"God, what, Draper?" I know, I sound impatient, and I am. It is 5:20 in the morning, and I have this conversation pretty much every morning at 5:20, give or take a new phrase or obsession he has.
"Mommy, you want something? I bring something for you."
And that, ladies and gentlemen, makes it all worth it.
"No, baby, but thank you. Be careful with the stool, and don't get into the silverware drawer. You know better."
"I know, Mommy." The bedroom door will close, then open again almost immediately. "Mommy?"
"Mommy, you turn on Noggin, kay, I be right back and watch with you."
I crack open an eye and squint at the oversized numbers of the alarm clock. "It is."
"I be right back."
Without opening my eyes, I will reach out and grab the remote, turn on the TV. It is almost always already tuned to his favorite station. I replace the remote, roll over, and wait until his soft warm body settles beneath the sheet beside me to drift back to sleep.
For me, having a child unexpectedly absolutely changed everything about my life. And, looking back, I wonder what in the world I did with all that spare time. I wonder how I spent my money, if not on toy cars and Jelly Bellies and tiny shoes and Golden Books. I wonder if I'd miss it if I didn't have him. And I wonder how I could ever live without him.