Due to Extenuating Circumstances

Adventures in Unplanned Parenthood

Archive for the month “November, 2015”

The wisdom to know the difference

Unless you live under an especially nonporous and far-flung rock, you know the quote about “the wisdom to know the difference.” This Thanksgiving weekend, I am deciding to embrace all of the things I cannot change.

  • My husband. If I could change what I don’t understand about Mac, someone else could change what I do understand, and love, and often secretly marvel at. I’d rather that not be the case.
  • The garage. It’s never going to be clean. It’s a black hole of old boxes with mysterious markings like “Donnie’s flatware.” It’s in handwriting I don’t recognize, and we don’t know anyone named Donnie. We also have bits of electrical equipment I don’t know how to use, a breadmaker from 2001, a giftwrap plastic holder that doesn’t close properly, giftwrap covered in finely ground sawdust, a sit-up exercising frame I should be using, a powersaw I should not, and an enormous bag of red solo cups. Who the hell is leaving flatware, cups and exercise equipment in my garage? I blame Donnie Wahlberg.
  • My students. I can teach, guide, ask, cajole, wheedle, bark, instruct and demonstrate. Not change.
  • My abdomen. My abdomen is a rogue nation in my world. The head negotiated with it, the heart pleaded with it, the gallbladder attacked it. Eventually the hand signed forms to remove large chunks of it and the legs gave up enabling it all the time. My mouth has imposed sanctions. My nerves are shot because of it. A coalition of the willing (eyes and feet) got it to as many specialists as it took, and still takes, to keep it in line with the global philosophy. They have all failed to make peace with it. So my ears are listening to every other body part and deciding some things will never be fixed.. We have extended a peacekeeping force to do what can be done.
  • Cat hair. We vacuum every day and dust three times a week. I don’t know where it comes from. We only have one cat. I wonder if he fleeces other cats and secretly brings it in while we’re at work. Every week I have enough hair to construct a whole new cat if I want. I’m thinking of going into the pillow business.
  • My friends’ friends. I never cared until Facebook. I’d better stop caring so much or I’m going to cyberthrottle someone I couldn’t pick out of a lineup in real life.
  • The plight of every suffering person.
  • The situation of every impoverished person.
  • The pain of every person who can’t tell Coke is better than Pepsi
  • The dried cereal stuck to my child. He can’t quit dropping the cereal puffs out of his mouth. They’re stuck EVERYWHERE. On the back of the highchair, on his butt, on the living room rug. I find them stuck in his hair, on bibs that got gluten-glued to diapers in his diaperbag, in the meshy part of his pack’n’prison. They’re mashed into the cat’s tail, on the welcome mat by the back door, in the mouth of the stuffed lion on his activity center, the back of Mac’s sweater and clogging up my tub’s drain. I have an incredible plan concerning cost-effective pothole repair with a Gerber sponsorship.These things are delicious cement just waiting to be activated by a hungry baby.
  • Donald Trump. He’s a natural disaster much like a tornado or a hurricane. You can’t stop it on your own, your best bet is to band together and help everyone in the aftermath.
  • Diapers
  • Dammit. Mac called me on my bullshit.
    • See the first sentence.

Featured Artist Series: Lacey Hannan

This holiday season, I wanted to give all of you a gift for staying with us on the adventure thus far. Over the next month DtEC will have videos of holiday favorites performed by my very talented actress friends, with a few minor story edits as done by yours truly. I hope you enjoy our festive offerings as much as we enjoyed making them for you.

First up, Hollywood actress and model Lacey Hannan performs a new holiday classic, “‘Twas Thanksgiving Day.”

‘Twas Thanksgiving Day

Written by Sarah Imes Borden and performed by Lacey Hannan

 

Tis Thanksgiving morning and all through the house, everyone’s stirring, even my spouse

The turkey’s still frozen, my gravy won’t thicken, the Butterball Hotline just told me “serve chicken”

 

My brother in law has burnt both the hams, my kids ate the marshmallows meant for the yams

My sister in sweatpants and I in my jeans, have now come to blows over who’ll make the beans

 

My husband has ruined three knives and a pan, his job was to open the cranberry can

I’m basting potatoes and mashing a bird, at this rate we’ll eat on December the third

 

 

When out at the kids table arose such a clatter, Ibsprang from the kitchen to see what’s the matter

Turns out my son’s soda made a big mess– I’m so damn tired I couldn’t care less

 

Then what to my glazed over eyes should appear? Oh thank you God, my mother is here!

With casseroles full of already-sliced meat, and homemade sage stuffing I can’t wait to eat.

 

Her car contains every feast food you can buy, salads and cheesecakes and fresh pumpkin pie!

Savory sauces and sweet little blintzes, when she smells my food she just barely winces

 

We spring to the table, ignoring the messes, forgetting to put on our ties and nice dresses

We slam back turducken and drink all the wine, for such a disaster it ended up fine

 

As mom washed up dishes without a word, I cried about roasting the still-frozen bird

I heard her laugh loudly as she drove out of sight…“Nobody gets their First Thanksgiving right!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Paper Chase

We were told after we had custody of baby for EXACTLY six months his adoption file was going to be submitted to the Lancaster County courts, our lawyers would have us sign a lot of papers, the judge would do gavel-related things and the baby would be ours for all eternity.

na·ive·té
ˌnīˌēv(ə)ˈtā,nīˈēv(ə)ˌtā/
noun
  1. lack of experience, wisdom, or judgment.

We thought six months meant six months, 180 days, half a year, all those things you tend to believe when someone says a concrete amount of time that equals 24 hours multiplied 180 times. This, of course, was stupid. The same way that we thought 12 bibs was a reasonable number of bibs, this is the level of delusion I’m describing. Here is what 6 months means in the adoption world:

Obtain baby. Unbelievably difficult but necessary step.

Select family lawyer. One with a law degree is best.

Wait until the baby has been in your physical custody for 4,320 hours.

Go to your lawyer.

Prepare the paperwork. Learn that there has been a dispute over what Iowa paperwork and Nebraska paperwork need to include. Wonder why this was never addressed the entire time you have been twiddling your thumbs waiting for the day the paperwork could be handled.

Meet again to have papers reviewed and signed. Notice minor errors in the paperwork that are mildly concerning, like the fact there is no legal record of how the birth mother spells her name. It’s three different ways on three separate documents. Have a panic attack wondering if someone can be un-adopted if the birthmom shows up and it turns out adding a “y” to her name makes her a totally different legal entity with rights over your beloved son.

Take a sedative.

Go back to paperwork and notice that you have all be signing copies showing today’s date as 2012. Wait for everyone to get updated copies.

Wait for a second round of updated copies while everyone tries to remember if the baby needs to be Imes Borden or Borden, middle name Imes. Realize you don’t HAVE to remember, he’s YOUR FUCKING KID AND YOU ALREADY NAMED HIM SO JUST DO IT RIGHT AND WHY HAVEN’T WE BEEN HAVING THIS DISCUSSION BEFORE NOW

Take another sedative.

Be told, for the first time, that after the paperwork is filed (already one month late) the state must hold it between 4 and 12 weeks.

Realize that the tickets you just got to visit the baby’s grandparents in Canada are now $2,300 (CAD) bookmarks. Because baby cannot get a passport without a birth certificate, and he cannot get that without the adoption papers, and those just got pushed back at least another month.

Remove sedatives from bottle and repackage them into Pez dispenser for convenience.

Wait.

Wait.

Wait.

Realize the court date will run into the school year, wonder how we’ll schedule it all.

Pez dispenser.

Ask mother to find outfit for baby to wear to court. Consider the virtues of bowties, tiny seersucker suits and similar.

Get notice to appear in court. Invite family to be there.

Get everyone to court. See another family with a toddler they are about to adopt. Realize we’re about to do something profound and special. Give them the “us, too” nod that only the others of our vast and wonderful tribe get to share.

Explain to squirming nephew what adoption is. Realize the entire concept of “the baby grew in another lady’s tummy but she gave him to us to love forever because he’s our family”, while beautiful and awe-inspiring, sounds a little suspect when you say it out loud.

Go in front of the judge. Remember almost none of it because IT’S HAPPENING.

Tear up when she asks why we want to adopt him. Mac answers “because we love him.” I answer “because he’s our son.”

Put away the Pez dispenser.

Live happily ever after as the Imes Bordens.

Or whatever name they put on his papers.

 

 

 

 

An experiment at DtEC

Hi all,

I’d like your help, dear readers, in an experiment. I’d love to see where we can go if the comments section gets input from a variety of people. So, I’m introducing a little survey. Three easy sections to make DtEC the blog you can’t wait to read. Leave your ideas, thoughts and suggestions on how to style my hair in the comment section on the website at http://www.duetoextenuatingcircumstances.com

Thank you!

  • Do you find the column easy to read and navigate? If not, how would you change it?
  • What’s your favorite type of content in this blog? What are the things you enjoy the most or like to share with your friends?
  • 3.  Finally, what kids shows have songs or characters you CANNOT STAND? For me, it’s the Paw Patrol theme. All I hear is                           PAW patrol! Paw patrol! Something something PUPPIES, PAW patrol! At LEAST we’re not, the fucking Bub-ble GUPPIES!

Proof? YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE PROOF.

Attention! Due to extenuating circumstances, the following protocol is in place; nothing the baby can get to is safe, either for the baby or the object in question. The following things are now regarded  as extremely perilous: pennies, pens, TV trays, hair bands, anything sharp, anything metal, anything plastic, anything with a plastic bag/wrap/overlay, anything on the floor that can be swallowed, anything removed from the floor that can fall on to the floor, anything that’s not floor related but still adheres to essential gravitational physics, anything used for housecleaning, a dirty house, an old house, a new house, my house, your house, home school, pre-school, night school, eating, not eating, and the cat.

It’s impossible to childproof a house. It is literally, using that word correctly and deliberately, NOT POSSIBLE. How do I know this? Because we have done nothing this past weekend but try to make this house a safer environment for the baby and I can assure you I now live in the least safe house in America. There are people squatting in abandoned scythe factories and asbestos warehouses that are in a better position to guarantee my child’s safety.

First we started with the outlet covers. We got the fancy ones that slide over the unused sockets. The baby regards these as a triple pleasure. He gets to slide things (motion!), try to stick his finger in the opening (entertaining!) and listen to me shout “NO! NOT A TOY.” (attention!). That’s nothing compared to the baby gate. Mac screwed one into the wall, then made a special opening at the side so the cat can go downstairs to his litter box. This gate has it all. It has mystery (“what’s down there?”), comedy (watch mommy try to work the finicky lever!) and pathos (“why, oh why won’t daddy take me past the gate?”). It’s like dinner theatre for the under 1 crowd.

Gate

This is nothing compared to securing the cabinets. I have turned cabinet security into more than a DIY project. In all modesty, I can say I blew right through DIY and home maintenance cliché straight into post modern art. I tried to attach one plastic security spring onto my bathroom cabinet door. It was obvious the previous homeowners also had kids, I could see the remaining screw marks and plastic barrier meant to keep the spring secure until your finger pushes it down. It took me 20 minutes to install one plastic latch. It lines up with the barrier, but I can’t get it to latch. It just sticks out, completely useless, hitting the barrier over and over. If it does go under the latch, it’s so low it doesn’t catch. Behold, the phases of my useless childproof latch.

locks

So Mac got the fancier magnetic locks. This shall be saved for another time I need to write about pulling out my own hair and slowly eating it while I rock back and forth, singing nursery rhymes to myself.

In the meantime, I am on full Floor Patrol Alert. I encounter a lot of cat hair on my beat. As the baby butt scoots along, he often finds these fluffy wads wafting by, and will stick out a moist hand to capture a few little tufts to snack on. Cotton candy will never look right to me again after picking up wet strands of cat hair my son has tried to let melt on his tongue. I thought this meant he was hungry for fingerfoods, so I got him fancy “melt in your mouth” puffs. I was afraid the generics wouldn’t be melty enough so I went for name brand, recognizable Advertised Brand of puffs. The bad news is that the baby couldn’t care less. I showed him over and over how fun the puffs could be if he would let those melt in his mouth instead of the cat hair. The good news is, I now have a delicious and portable melt-in-my-mouth snack anytime I want to treat myself. I’m partial to the blueberry ones.

In the meantime, we have more than enough to be getting on with as far as floor cleanup. I never realized how many things fall on the floor everyday. Gravity is stronger in the Borden household than it was this time last year. Naturally, the things most likely to roll and fall (coins, those funny lipbutters in the egg shape that are trendy, grapes, breath mints) are exactly the size and shape of a baby’s windpipe. Mother Nature could have done all humankind a solid and made our windpipes a hexagon, or octagon, anything with some damn corners. But no. The human windpipe is fragile, round, easy to put things into and absolutely necessary for survival. Thanks, bitch.

So, we’ll take awhile longer to make la casa de Borden safer for its smallest occupant. Until we iron out the wrinkles the baby will be followed as much as possible and I’ll keep screaming “NO! NOT A TOY!” I have to swallow first though, these puffs make me thirsty.

Object Permanence is a Bitch

For several months I was amused by Baby’s lack of understanding that things don’t disappear forever when they leave our sight. True, you can debate the esoteric nature of the concept; philosophers among us would argue we can’t prove they do, we do, or anything does. What I do know is if Mac disappears into the realm of nonexistence every time he goes downstairs, then I’d really like to know what unseen universal force is leaving copies of Whisky Advocate around and flushing the toilet 4 times an hour.

Back to the baby. At first it was funny that the baby thought everything disappears. Ha ha! Look at the baby, he’s such a noob! Then we went through our alarming Separation Anxiety phase, which is still in effect but only with Mac. Now, with the revelation of the entertainment center, a new and dangerous phase is upon us: Object Permanence.

Baby clearly demonstrated it for the first time when he went back to see why he couldn’t make the pretty doors slide now that they are padlocked (yes, actually padlocked) shut. He knew there should be only a dowel, but it’s gone (I keep it in the garage as a powerful reminder that underestimating my offspring could one day cost lives. My life if he ruins our only functioning TV, his life if he tries to open the liquor cabinet and pour out daddy’s scotch). Just a few minutes after the dowel fiasco, I saw him try to stick a finger in a socket. Wackiness ensued:

Put the childproof cover on it. He still wants the socket. Pull the drapes over it. Still wants the socket. Move an end table in front of it. Tries to climb through the end table to reach the socket. Bring him a toy. Tries to stick toy through end table, under curtains and into socket.

What is your deal with this socket, son? As Mac and I race to cover all of the other sockets, it hits me. He remembered where the socket was. And just like that, I can no longer count on making things “disappear”  by removing them. I hadn’t eliminated our pre-baby household death traps, only consolidated them. Oh my god, I have an entire house of things I disappeared so he wouldn’t play with them. The basement is a graveyard of stuff I didn’t want him to touch so I made it go away. I don’t mean a few Ming vases, I mean I disappeared HUNDREDS of things I couldn’t bother to childproof. I’m the goddamn Chilean dictator of household detritus.

For a hot minute it seemed that childproofing would be a pain, but at least we could count on him understanding that things exist even when we can’t see them. However, it turns out my child has SOPD, Selective Object Permanence Disorder. He remembers some things with perfect clarity. He knows where the sockets are, how to pull on the cords Mommy keeps trying to hide/secure, where the cat left tasty wads of hair that obviously need to be sucked on. What he doesn’t remember, and I try not to take this personally, is that Mac doesn’t disappear forever when he goes downstairs.

I’m not kidding. This isn’t something that mildly annoys our child. Every time, and I mean EVERY TIME Mac leaves the room or walks towards the stairs our child screams the scream of the damned. How can he have such specific separation anxiety? I can be HOLDING him and he still screams like he’s been abandoned to the wolves. That kid isn’t just mad dad is gone, he’s grieving that his beloved father is lost forever and ever. Who can blame him? Mommy moved tons of shiny and sharp things down there and they never came back.

So, concerned for the baby’s mental health (and our eardrums) Mac started running the Third Rate Rapper Sequence I spew all day. That nonstop update of each achievement, intent, thought, or action that parents deliver in the third person. “Daddy needs to answer a work email! Daddy is coming back in a second! Can you hear me? Daddy is walking down the stairs AND I STILL EXIST!!

Of course that doesn’t work, so now he takes the baby with him and the baby sits in the office/small appliance/exercise equipment graveyard we call the basement. Mac puts him in a playpen and then tries to get something done. This should work, because Mac has proven we can go downstairs and not cease to be. But the basement has a bathroom. How does the baby know the bathroom is the same as the basement? He doesn’t. Once you close the bathroom door then you’ve disappeared again. He screams again, mourning with all his tiny, broken heart. So Mac is delivering an even more personal TRRS with gems like “Daddy is RIGHT HERE! You’re not even ten feet away from me! Daddy HAS to keep the bathroom door closed or if the neighbors look through the screen door they can see right inside the house to where Daddy is pooping and that would make Daddy SAD.”

I know. I know the next step. We’ll only be able to prove we don’t disappear in the bathroom if he’s in there with us. But I can’t grasp why he remembers the socket still exists in the bathroom but we don’t. It’s a metaphysical, religious, philosophical conundrum. Perhaps the only way to ensure he remembers Mac exists is to try to childproof him. Then we KNOW the baby will never forget he’s there.

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