Due to Extenuating Circumstances

Adventures in Unplanned Parenthood

Archive for the tag “#humor”

Good Morning, Welcome to the Philippines!

I know. You thought you were safe. You were at home, in bed, in the country you usually fall asleep in, and you hadn’t heard from this blog in months. It seemed the happiness might not ever end.

Then the heart is ripped out of your Monday morning as it becomes clear I pulled the Full MacArthur and have, despite no indication of invitation whatsoever, indeed returned…and you’re the Filipinos, dear readers.


The nicest thing to be said about The Full MacArthur is that military uniforms look dashing. It’s been a loooong six months, readers. I don’t do much dashing these days. I sort of waddle after my son, half-halfheartedly saying, “no, wait, stop, whatever,” while he breaks the land speed record in his age group in Running Towards People We’ve Not Met and Asking Them for Cheerios. Despite my lack of military training and acumen, (not to mention I have inner thighs melded together like two warm loaves in a bread machine), I am Gen. MacArthur. You’ll see.

My two year old son has a lot of incredible skills now. I really, really wish I could understand his brain’s prioritization method. For example, he now picks out his own T-shirt, insists on wearing socks and his favorite tennis shoes, and his major hobbies include scrubbing his baby toothbrush all over his lips and eating non-fluoride toothpaste as he washes his hands with my expensive body lotion. He’s a stylin’ little man with clean teeth and pampered skin. He enjoys doing all of this every day.

Yet he screams the howls of the damned when we insist on changing his diaper after he’s pooped. It’s so strange. He’s not attached to the urine, and he will wear another diaper. It seems to be the turd itself he’s grown fond of. I’m half afraid I could tell him I just want to put the turd in a nicer looking diaper and he’d let me do that. You can see how my skill set has improved; never once, even as a joke, have I offered him a turd-replacement program because, god help me, I am learning.

The thing is, Eduardo treats these like battle maneuvers! He’s willing to lull me into a false complacency because it seems like my tiny baby is now so big. He can do so many things, he’s practically a man. Then he unleashes the dogs of war over his bowel movements and I am so, so lost.

He really can do so many things now! He plays on the deck, he sits in the living room, he runs back to his room, he even sits up at the dinner table when we eat. Sidenote: the table is 75% covered in stuff we’ve brought in but not dealt with yet, so we eat on a corner of it like those sad people you see on Hoarders. Anyway. He goes all of these places now, has toys and activities he associates with each place, always learning new things about what we do in each location. Each location offers fun things: here we watch TV! Here we eat yummy hot dogs! Here we play with Oscar! Here we insist you nap in bed even though we know you lay down in front of the door and sleep there!

Every place has good stuff, is my point. But Eddie doesn’t care about that stuff. TV, cars, kitty cat, that stuff is for one year old babies. He’s two and a half now. All he seems to do is find crazier ways to be defiantly naughty while hurting himself, or, at the very least, hurting someone else. Eddie is the son of General MacArthur, you see? Eddie’s eye-to-brain filter must sound like the inside of a military forward operating base:

Soldier, situation report.

Sir, I have eyes on three possible weak spots. The enemy could climb to the top of the couch and jump off the back. It’s eight unprotected feet onto the wooden landing. He could crawl under this table and foment insurrection by dumping all of the cat’s food into the water. I like our chances of being able to crash the toy bulldozer into the screen of the TV, and I suggest we send a scout to find out if someone could fall and kill themselves trying to climb on the leather ottoman to see out the front window.

Understood, that’s a negative on that ottoman, repeat ottoman is a no-go. Rear unit reporting you can go outside and push the deck chair to the railing so you can fall onto the shed. Join up with them and proceed to the yard to discuss scaling the fence that leads to the busy street.

Sir, I already know I can try to push the deck gate open so tumbling down the wooden stairs onto the concrete would be a piece of cake. SNAFU though–getting to the deck requires the door and I only remember how to use a door knob bout half the time. I want to proceed towards the back hall. Intelligence suggests opening the toilet bowl lid and seeing how much trouble could be stirred up by scooping up toilet water with the bath toys then drinking it while we slide down the stairs on the bathmat.

Roger that, MacArthur. 5:30 is chow in the mess hall, and we do mean mess, soldier. Do your very worst. Over and out.

My final clue that MacArthur and I are sharing brain space is that he knew the power of a good, strategic retreat. Gotta say, that’s been damn useful. We can’t fight every battle every time. Eddie’s very worst offenses (hurting our pet) can’t be treated like the stupid stuff (throwing food at dinner). It’s just the stupid stuff happens soooooooooooooooo maaaaaaaaaany times a day. He knows he’s doing it, too, so then it becomes a question of limit testing. But I gotta say, I’m holding the line on the poop offensive. Because it is. It is rankly offensive, especially in 100 degree heat.

So, as things progress this summer in our battle to reclaim the house, I hope to let you know how much ground my son let’s me pretend I’ve made.  Until then, this is Douglas MacArthur, signing off. Good day to you, Filipinos!


2011, 2016: Magic


August 12th, 6:30 pm: Mac and I stood at the altar in a ballroom decorated by a dear friend. My best friend AJ and our family friend Greg were the co-officiants in our secular wedding. Robin was my maid of honor, Mac’s dad stood up with him. We had written our own vows to each other. Mac was feeling real pressure since the wedding guests were about 75% Imes or Imes-adjacent people and he thought there may be a quiz afterwards. I’m not sure why a raucous, erudite, never-ending wave of the Clan Imes would be overwhelming for someone who identifies his family as having about 9 people. Nine Canadian people, which when you factor in their general politeness and concern for etiquette averages out to 3.7 Americans, but you won’t notice them because that’s an imposition.

My gown was an elaborately tucked ivory sweetheart neckline. I was allergic to my bouquet. Our song was Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love.” My aunts helped cut the cake. Our moms had great dresses. Our dads and Robin gave terrific toasts.

On the whole, magic.


My folks took El Niño (a favorite nickname for baby) last night. Mac and I had dinner and made a determined effort to not talk about our kid, and we did beautifully. After we picked him up the next day, our 5th anniversary was going to be watching tons and tons of sports and hanging out with Baby. We love the Olympics. Here’s the play-by-play:


Hey, kiddo! See the Olympics? What’s that smell?

Change diaper.

Did we feed him?

I dunno.

Me either.

Watch Olympics.

Did we ever feed him?

I dunno.




Baby wanted to wave Canadian flag for soccer. Wave, Baby, Wave! He wants to wear a plastic bag on his head while he does it. Great hat, baby! Oh. Except not. No, plastic bags are not toys. TANTRUM. Baby threw Mac’s glasses in anger. “No throwing eyeglasses” is a VERY big rule in the Imes Borden household of late. Baby got a one minute time out, which he understands. Which is great. Except it exposes a haunting gap in Imes Borden parenting knowledge: We have no idea who taught him “time out.” We’re guessing he’s watching the older kids at daycare? In his age group I think they usually re-direct. My parents discovered he knows time out, but they didn’t teach him, either. If he’s had a Time Out Setting all along, that most certainly should have been divulged by the maternity nurses.

So. He’s being forced to stand by the vacuum cleaner at the end of the hall, a 60-second time out. He cried. Mac and I had to strategically retreat to the kitchen to not let Baby know this is at least 10 times harder on me than him, and his little wails are cute, and last time I had to leave because I was going to laugh at him, he’s so damned adorable in time out.

Then he comes out, where we immediately revert to “Time served, clean slate, let’s have fun again!” OLYMPICS! Good plan. Right up until Mac needs to go downstairs and use the facilities for a bit. So here I am, I have to keep Baby occupied, it’s not safe to leave him in the living room alone or he’ll mess up paused Olympics even if I have the remote. Mac says that’s not possible. Oh, but it is. It is. IT IS. HOW? If I knew how I wouldn’t let him do it and I don’t care if you can’t see how because he’s GODDAMN HARRY POTTER I DON’T KNOW HOW HE JUST DOES…now I also need the bathroom. This is how we get to the weirdest part of my day.

“HEY! You’ve been so good, why don’t you come in and help mommy go potty?”

I am not making this up.

He loves it when I tell him he’s being such a good boy, that yes, he can come in and help me go potty. (Let’s talk about how weird that thought is to ME another time). This is a non-stop thrill ride as far as my son is concerned. Listen to his little brain:

This is the part where mommy closes the door! Look how special I am, I’m on THIS SIDE of the door! Then, mommy does a weird thing about pulling her pants down, and sits, and her squishy tummy fat is all bunched up. I’ll poke my finger into her belly button! Everybody likes belly pokes! Mommy’s had so many surgical implements pass through that belly button it has a knot of scar tissue behind it the size of a golf ball; she will love it so much if I poke extra hard, to let her know I remember! It’s also cool to poke all the other scars. Mommy would never thank me ironically for that! What ar– Mommy there’s liquid coming into the bowl you’re sitting on and 


This is an actual quote. The first time my son heard urine his eyes grew enormous and in a reverential whisper he said “whoa.” He knows when that stops mommy does whatever the weird paper thing is, and always wants to close the lid before flushing, so in his mind, “Really I’m a much better helper if I close it while she’s still on it! I’ll hit mommy in the back with the lid! I am saving Mommy so much time!”

And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for…the Mystery Handle of Amazement. It sends things to another dimension. You can SEE Baby’s mind burning rubber it’s going so fast: Mommy we could put so many things in here! Everything we never wanna see again like a ton of Kleenex, a stuffed owl, my crayons, shoes, and everything I’m supposed to eat I don’t like which is now every food on the planet except plain, starchy pasta! What about the cat? Mommy would love it so much if I gave the cat a bath in here!”

After that, the last Big Treat of the night was trying to watch the Olympics, which can be summed up thusly: Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps make a lot of money for NBC, and we are viciously, irrevocably old and out of shape.


Did we put the baby to bed?

I dunno.



If the door is closed, God opens a window. That you can’t reach.

Attention! Due to extenuating circumstances, the following MUST be kept closed to minimize the damage that can be done to, or done by, our toddler:

  1. Our bedroom door. Immediately as baby enters there are three shelves within his reach. Two of them are decorative corner units (warning! Sap alert!) Mac installed to my sight line for when I can’t sit up. They hold some of the things I find beautiful or special that remind me of traveling. Among other things it has a Russian lacquered bowl, a matrushka my nephew is quite fond of (don’t know why this particular thing, but I’m happy to share) and a couple of jewelery boxes. There’s also very pointy wooden Buddha from Thailand, a family picture from 15 years ago and the first dollar I ever earned as a published author. My son loves the little bowl, but it’s only a matter of time before he pokes out somebody’s eye with Pointy Thai Buddha and that’s not a level of metaphysical introspection I have time for.
  2. His bedroom. Eddie has learned pens and markers leave behind pretty, pretty colors. My husband keeps his work clothing in Eddie’s closet right now as Eddie’s sartorial needs are limited to “big spaghetti sauce stain but it’s technically clean vs. stainless, too small but everybody loves baby tummies.” Eddie wants to watch highlighters (we own 876, see also: professor) make pretty colors on Daddy’s dress shirts. The shirts for which Mac meticulously shops in higher-end, professional wear boutiques that tailor every piece as needed for him. The higher quality the fabric, the better they hold highlighter.
  3. Under the sink. Sure, we have the childproof magnetic locks and all that, but you have to figure in baby’s need to open the left cabinet. Why? It holds the cat treats. It is a guarantee Oscar will come rushing. I look under the sink, I see under a sink with some sponges I should give up already, and the feather duster next to cat supplies.gar kisses Eddie looks under the sink… and sees an opportunity to wield untold power over the cat. It’s all he ever wanted. Eddie screams “Gar! Gar! Whoa…Gar!” (Our new word is “whoa” and it gets used 89 times a day, plus whatever he says at daycare). My son follows his bliss. And then face plants himself into the soft, furry underbelly of the bliss.
  4. The bathroom. He saw the toilet flush once and got so stoked the water was vanishing he stuck his hand in there to feel it swirling away. This wasn’t a test flush, by the way. This was a fully operational toilet scenario, folks.
  5. The dishwasher. To be fair, Daddy loves it when Baby helps by getting out spoons and giving them to Daddy. So, the more engaged Baby is, the more Daddy will love this to the point of freaking the hell out, right? Baby is thinking “When did it become “wrong” to crawl up onto the door so I could find out how the green powder in the little rectangle-shaped dispenser tastes?”
  6. The stairway gate. The slots of the gate. Throwing toy, after toy, after toy, a green bean, the diaper he just wiggled out of (oh yeah, true story) and more toys..we’re learning so much about the sound of plastic on wood, wood on wood, crayon on wood, and, in its most colorful iteration, Daddy on baby metal fork at 2 am.
  7. The liquor cabinet so he can’t root around in there before bedtime.
    1. I should also make sure Baby doesn’t do that
  8. The entertainment system because good dowels gave their lives so that others might be safe. Never Forget.

Nice to meet you, Erma.

I like eating applesauce in the middle of the night.

When I need a snack at night, unsweetened applesauce in the total package: easy to find in fridge, low calorie, good for nausea, thick enough to cushion pills, and I can eat it silently in bed, perusing the internet for funny pictures of cats while next to me Mac produces an astonishing amount of body heat for someone who is neither awake nor the Human Torch.

Eat it silently.



gerund or present participle: foreshadowing
be a warning or indication of (a future event).
          Two nights ago I came to the kitchen, then got my Peter Rabbit bowl, then filled it with applesauce, then grabbed my glass of water, then padded back to the bedroom, then set down the applesauce, then put the water on a coaster on my bedside table, then climbed into bed to sit up and peruse funny pictures of cats. Then jumped up with a robust squeal as my left butt cheek tipped a child’s plastic bowl filled with cold applesauce. Right now, I’d like to use this platform for some sage wisdom:
When setting things down it is of vital import to remember where one did this if one wishes to collect said item with hands, not arse.
          As you can imagine, Mac’s eyes opened PDQ when I squawked. I’m dripping applesauce onto the carpet on my side of the bed, where we keep a power strip on the floor. Two nights ago the power strip was hooked up to FIVE things, only two of them less than a hundred dollars to replace. I was frantically scooping up applesauce with my hands, trying to see how much of it got near or on the strip, and since the strip is how my bedside lamp operates I’m scared to turn the damn thing on. I replace my disgusting, squishy nightgown. Mac gives up sleep as a lost cause and heads to his bathroom, stopping to put my nightgown in the washer. I collect bowl, spoon, sodden Kleenex and such to get everything rinsed since we’ve already spent two months at the Maginot Line as far as kitchen ants are concerned.
          Mac returns, shuts off his light, and I come back in with some wet paper towels (carefully kept away from electrical sources, thankyouverymuch) and a flashlight. Satisfied our bedroom is no longer a target for Ant Lebensraum, I sit back on the bed.
          We have cream-colored sheets.
Guess what looks like a wrinkled shadow against cream-colored sheets?
I hadn’t seen the pile of applesauce puddled dead center of my butt imprint.
          Oh, yeah. Same sauce, second verse. A little bit louder, and a metric shit ton worse. There are now TWO disgusting nighties (silky fabric for optimal conduction of frigidity, TWO soggy areas of bedside floor to clean, TWO times I have woken up my husband, an essentially good man, for absolutely no reason than my own terrible choice of late night snack. But wait! There’s more.
          Our mattress pad has a heating element, like sleeping on a giant heating pad. I have no clue if the sauce got in there, and if it did, how do we clean it? I just said moisture and heat sources are mortal enemies. We can’t get clean sheets (stored in closet of Baby’s room), I’m still hungry, I haven’t taken the needed pain pill, my snack is lodged in crevices polite society doesn’t discuss plus Mac goes to work in three hours and his wife is having a breakdown over pulverized fruit.
          Mac smiled gently and told me to get a towel. I miserably put a towel over the whole damn thing and reply, “At least I’ve got a blog entry. Can’t let this be for nothing.” Then Mac tells me, as the CPAP goes back on, “Erma Bombeck would be proud.”
All right then.

Oh, my god.

Dear Readers, for maximum enjoyment of this piece, please visit the article at the website. There are embedded videos you may not be able to see via email or on certain phones. —SIB www.duetoextenuatingcircumstances.com


There’s not a good way to ease into this, so let’s jump right in.

My son is a God. Now, I mean that exactly as the words are intended to convey: that the small person over which we have custody is a deity. This isn’t “Mommy’s Little Prince” or “He’s such a drama queen!”

My son is the Norse god of thunder, Thor.

What are the signs? For starters, up until now we’ve been using the standard toy assortment every little kid in America seems to own: things with wheels, things that makes noise, and things that aren’t really toys but it kept him quiet so now they’re toys. His favorites come and go. Last week that ‘take it or leave it” attitude came to a shit-screeching halt when Baby discovered The Hammer. Say it with me now:

The hammer.

I can tell you’re not even trying. The Hammer. No, you’re still not giving The Hammer its proper due. Say it with reverence now, The Hammer.

Keep working on it. In case you were wondering, this is The Hammer.


Did you think you that’s what Mjolnir would really look like? Me neither, but maybe the people at Marvel have a crappy props department. If you’re doubting for a second this isn’t a Norse magical artifact, well pal, go screw yourself. I have HURT myself trying to separate my boy from this stupid hammer. This is what Mjolnir really looks like. I even went back to the movie and checked: if your entire life revolves around acting insane to the other people on earth, howling mightily and carrying on until your precious hammer is by your side…yep. You’re Thor. Full name, by the way, Thor, God of Thunder, Son of Odin, Lord of Asgard Imes Borden. And the hammer by your side is Mjolnir, all right.

Speaking of the movie though, my Thor has picked up an astonishingly annoying behavior, which is to throw food on ground because it’s good, because it’s bad, because it’s nap time, because it’s Thursday… just, watch. This is my entire life right now.

To top that off, we have now mastered the art of walking, which means the next great challenge is to smash into places mommy and daddy don’t want Thor to be. I’m sure it does look rather harsh to see a hallway of nothing but closed doors to places that couldn’t possibly be dangerous, like an unattended bathroom or the closet where we keep all of the disinfectants and OTC medication. But Baby’s answer is to test every door, because one of these days this will happen:


Who’ll be weak and powerless against doors then, Mommy?

At this point, I’m torn between just letting him have The Hammer because in spite of imminent danger it’s easier than taking away the beloved Fisher-Price style Mjolnir…or perhaps letting young Mr. Odinson Imes Borden learn that with power comes great responsibility. I could do that by showing him a carefully edited version of the first Thor movie. A pretty good argument could be made that Chris Hemsworth Thor has educational value when watched with mommy.

Actually, if we want a really good educational question to ponder, Mr. Thor Odinson Imes Borden…why can mommy lift Your Hammer?

I should definitely look into what the movies have to say about that. After your bedtime, your highness. That’s enough door smashing for today, dear.

Sydney Syndrome

Parents, especially you stay at home parents, today we’re going to be talking about a delicate subject that may be difficult for you to face. Just remember: lots of us are triggered by this, we are NOT alone, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. I am speaking, of course, of Sydney Syndrome. It’s a pervasive and psychologically damaging condition in which a parent has been forced to hear songs by the Australian group “The Wiggles” so many times that you begin to feel like you enjoy them, or maybe even asked to hear them.

Common things we hear when we talk about The Wiggles are phrases like “It was just supposed to kill ten minutes so I could take a shower!” or “The Australian accents fooled me, I thought they must be less potent than American brand children shows!” The worst cases bring out difficult to express pain and anguish, and so they are disguised as simple banter. Come on now, do you think other adults ask themselves if Lachey is pretty cute (answer: he is) or if Anthony is trying a little to hard to look under 50? (Answer: he is). The very worst cases are triggered by seeing yellow bows. Parents who have violent reactions to yellow bows should be led to a safe place, given an adult beverage, and then we recommend at least three hours of interactions with adults who won’t trigger you. Your best bet is to go drinking with friends who don’t have children. They have no idea what you mean by “The Big Red Car” or “Dorothy the Dinosaur” and you have no idea who “Florence and the Machine” are. It’s mutually beneficial and your friends without children will also remind you that it was really, really fun to think of yourself as the center of the universe for a few decades.

If you’re trapped in a situation where there is no choice, here are things you can do to lessen the stress of Wiggle-Watching:

  • Realize that in 2015 Emma and Lachey got engaged, and that was after two years of secret dating. Just think of all the kinky sex they’ve had on that set. Imagine how disgusting it could be to shag on the Wags the Dog costume, or in the back of the BRC.
  • Ask yourself if Anthony is “straight” or if he falls more “on a continuum of hetero to homosexuality” as the kids say these days.
  • Thank God above when you get an episode with Lou Diamond Phillips in it. Lou, I can’t think of ANY crime you could commit not involving a Pope-related sex toy that would result in punishment like this, but….whatever you did, thanks. You’re bringing some much needed sex appeal to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” in my living room at 3:00 in the afternoon.
  • Simon, for the love of GOD, man…the third one is ALWAYS the one where you didn’t say “Simon Says.” Mix it up, sweetie. Even the five year olds with their shoes on the wrong feet and tater tots in their pockets have caught on.
  • How much of a cash cow is Emma, really? Think about it. They gave her her own little spin off, each lasting three minutes where she does a cute dance. They sell her bows. They sell her tutu. She is the lead singer in about half their songs. I hope she has a percentage of this because she’s going to be the next Oprah. Lachey’s fine for now, but I’d look for her to be moving up to your Chris Hemsworths, your Alex O’Loughlins, your Sam Worthingtons. Give it another 3 years before she wants to “try other things, not get typecast,” on the West End by 2019, first summer blockbuster the year after that, In Esquire’s “100 Hottest Leading Ladies” (but about #89) that fall, and surprise engagement to someone who had been totally off the radar but it was love at first sight by 2021. I hate to jump the gun, but I’ll call it right now, it’s James Franco.
  • Above all else, when you find yourself humming their songs at 7 at night and you’re the only one home, remember that you didn’t ask for this, the Wiggles are something that happened TO you. You don’t need to feel bad, and humming their songs is a natural sign you’ve taken to your captivity in the Wiggle House as well as any adult can.
  • Whatever else you do, remember that I, Sarah, am telling you as a grown up you can trust that it’s OK to live your life. You DON’T need to wait for Simon to say so. But if you do…pause it before that third one or you’re gonna be standing in your living room like a real asshat for the next day and a half until someone comes and turns off the TV.
  • We’re all in this together. Stay safe, and have a bow-tiful day.
    • Oh fuck you, Emma.

The Imes Women Get a Pedicure

Mac is away for a week doing Very Important Scholarly Things. My parents let me move in with them so I can get some very needed help with el Niño. Before I get to the good bit, a tangent:

My abdomen is disintegrating like one ply toilet paper in the Pacific. No joke, I’m running out of tricks to compensate. Real would be an accurate assessment of how the shit is getting. While mom and dad help it gives me more time and avenues to procure all of my medical records from every person who has seen me in the last 3-5 years. Applying to the Mayo Clinic is no longer done by referral. You have to choose the 50 pages that best sums up your issues, surgeries, consults, MRI, x-rays, everything.  The Clinic then decides whom to see.

I have been an actress for 21 years . I have auditioned to be:

  • a girl who holds a Campbell soup sign
  • an American girl willing to let a team of English people cover her in shaving cream
  • a home development expert that focuses on choosing the right carpet
  • and while living in London I auditioned to be the video game voice of an American Army officer, where I was told, I’m not making this up, that I had done OK but there’s a certain type of American accent for this and it was a solid effort but my accent wasn’t American enough. He did tell me he thought with a dialect coach I could get the exact hang of it–my American accent could be perfect.
  • The point is, I have auditioned for so many stupid things in so many stupid ways I RESENT auditioning for medical care.
    • end of rant tangent. Thank you.

Mom was going to help me get Baby into the carseat, we’d collapse the stroller, and go to the nail salon.

Here is what happened:

Using baby gear somebody else has bought is so, so confusing. I don’t think companies make more than one of every gate, highchair or stroller on the planet. Each piece of baby gear is lovingly crafted by hand, to be just that much different from every other on the planet.

I had to get the baby gate down. How does this gate go down? You simply lift the thing, marked with the red, but why is the black thing marked on in pen, which means, so I lift here? No. Do I push here? No. Do I lift towards the


Well. Excellent. My next guess was going to be the chainsaw in the garage. Get stroller, get stomach brace on, lift baby into stroller, must buckle him because we need to go down stairs into garage. But the straps are– why doesn’t this one come out? If I put that one there, then I’m left with a diagonal strap that does nothing…oh. Under his butt? Sure, I mean, I just need to get him to the car and UGH. Hurts to push. Maybe pulling is better. Pull down the AAHHRRGG– baby hanging perilously off one end of the stroller. I guess that’s what the other diagonal thingie should have prevented?

My mom comes to the car. Mom can’t lift due to a recent neck injury, I can’t put the baby away from my torso if I’m holding him, neither of us is great on buckling. Still. It’s not like we’re morons or anything.

We’re morons.

I pick him up out of the AGAHSHSAHAHHH. Oh dear God. I undo the mystery buckle. I pick him up again, without the stroller hanging off his ass. Successfully. My abs are already burning worse than that torch you carried for your junior high crush. Then I have to get him to mom, and she can twist him into the seat, so that takes a couple of tries. Now mom gets out and I get in to buckle, but…would SOMEBODY PLEASE MAKE BUCKLES YOU DON’T HAVE TO SET THE BABY ON TOP OF?? It was another five minutes of maneuvering and squishing his fat little appendages under canvas straps, loosening, buckling, tightening.

We now need to collapse the stroller. Mom doesn’t know how. She bought it secondhand and they may have shown her how to collapse it but she can’t remember at all. I figure it has a button on it that says “push” and red thingies; those must be key to the process. They are. They are key to obstructing all progress. I push, pull, turn, hit with my hands, my legs, my knees, I’m beginning to wonder if you’re supposed to offer it some lewd favor in return for cooperation…?

You could achieve world peace if weapons were labelled this way. I keep pressing, pulling, trying to bend things, feel for joints or weak spots or… anything. Anything that seems like it will alter the configuration of the stroller. And the basket down below fell off. Thanks for that, you snarky little piece of shit baby gear. I can lift you, whole, and just stick you in the back of my mother’s extended hatchba– oh, no. No, I can’t. I can hear mom saying “it won’t fit! It won’t fit!” and I’m thinking “it will if I take that chainsaw I see in the corner to it, so help me, God” but at last, painfully, I admit defeat. This stroller is like the physics question of baby gear: can we truly ever understand or alter its nature? Can your essence be manipulated for our purposes or will even the great minds of our time fall short gazing into the infinite complexities of your composition?

We gave up. We left the stroller in the garage and drove to the salon, where everybody loved him. Which is only fair, he’s quite lovable.

But mom and I have dark plans for that stroller. Down the rabbit hole, comic book villain, we WILL collapse you or die trying, ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk? types of thoughts. I want to keep that chainsaw handy.

(Another) Open Letter to Donald Trump

Mr. Trump,

I am writing to you today specifically to address one of the cornerstones of your campaign, the idea that there will be a giant wall that separates the US from Mexico. You started off by saying construction would $4,000,000,000 dollars, and from there have moved up to sixteen billion, but it won’t matter how much it costs because Mexico will pay for it.

It’s rude and racist to say you know what an entire country will do when you’re basing that on an exceedingly small sample size. So I’ll tell you this: here’s what would happen if you approached one very particular Mexican person (in this case a person who is now Mexican American because he was born here and adopted). If you told my son there needed to be a giant wall he doesn’t want but it’s his responsibility to make one anyway, this is what you’d get:

  1. He’d throw all of your construction equipment to the ground and then DEMAND you, personally, come over and pick it up. It wouldn’t matter that he has 30 other things to make a wall with right now, he wants THAT bulldozer and so you’ll need to fly over on Air Force One, pick up THAT bulldozer, and wait.
  2. Because now he knows the game works. So forget trying to negotiate with China, because your wall-building team is just going to dump bulldozers in the Rio Grande all damn day, until you pick them up, wipe them off, and put them at his disposal again. Don’t bother rehearsing your State of the Union speech, because your entire speech will be undermined by the headline
  3. Wall Builder Will Not Begin Construction Until Demands Are Met
  4. Oh, I know, Mr. Trump, you always fly your left hand over your shoulder and lean forward on the podium then say “whatever. I can handle them.” Then you go back to spewing your thinly veiled hatred of Muslims. But you don’t understand: not figuratively, LITERALLY the wall is not being worked on because you didn’t get your builder Cheerios, applesauce, and three bites of whatever mommy is eating, off her fork. You can put it in front of him and repeat “it’s the same food! It’s the same food! It’s the same food!”until you sound like a deranged parrot from the bowels of hell but it won’t matter. NO WALL FOR YOU because the three bites weren’t from Mommy’s fork.
  5. Good news, Mr. President! Your sample size of one Mexican person is in the mood to build a wall today. An esoteric, sort of postmodern wall with different plastic components, some boxes, a wrapped tampon that fell out of the closet which is super weird since nobody in the house has needed those since Oct. 2011, but whatever. It’s a barrier. To parents. This wall will be a nightmare of trying to walk over his wall without stepping on something sharp, losing your balance, and crashing onto the floor.
  6. Your sample size of one Mexican didn’t want to work on the wall today, Donald. Well, shit. Cancel that whole “I can fix ISIL” meeting. Now what do you do? You can be a normal person and pick up the wall because nobody needs this thing, it doesn’t do a damn thing, and the only people who want it are the same people who have the intellectual capacity to think an empty box from Rice Krispie cereal is an effective barrier to people not coming into your space. But the builder, also at your level of mental development, will cry because you destroyed all the hard work he put into it.
  7. And, finally, I fervently hope, someday…you’ll realize the entire wall was a stupid idea. It wasn’t a good jobs scheme, it wasn’t good diplomacy, it was racist, it was an illusion of security and not worth it…in short you’ll learn your wall was child’s play, Mr. Trump.
  8. So get yourself some Cheerios, play with a bulldozer and make some vroom sounds. Our sample size of one Mexican seemed pretty content and nobody’s mad at him. Although I am a bit peeved–I stepped on a sharp piece of a CAT front loader and it’s bleeding like a son of a bitch.
  9. Oh look! Tampon.


With the voting climate as it is right now, it seemed like a good time to bring forth some good old-fashioned flag-waving, true blue sacrifice for our country. I probably shouldn’t be telling all of you this. If I looked through the paperwork we signed I’m sure the government told me to keep this private, national security, lives at stake, something something no, we don’t get what’s up with Trump’s hair either, but seriously this is a secret. But, as a proud mama, I have to brag just a little. My son is going to be hired by our Army as a WMD: a Whippersnapper of Mass Distraction.

He’ll be put in key diplomatic strategy meetings, and then he’ll do what he does right now, 24/7. He’ll pull himself up on furniture then scream because he can’t get down. He’ll be sitting and watching the Wiggles and if one of them is wearing a costume he doesn’t like he’ll scream for hours. Doesn’t like the pants Daddy put him in? Scream. Daddy runs to the bathroom? Scream! Mommy took his empty Cheerios bowl? Double scream, because now mommy is a jerkface AND there’s no Cheerios. Mommy comes back with more Cheerios? This is a time for earth-shattering, top-level screaming because if Mommy had a clue she would have saved the inevitable heartbreak and brought the box to the bowl, not the other way around.

He gets himself turned around in his crib and screams. We put him on his back, tucked in, just like he likes but then we leave again; screaming. He rolls over and back again–Doppler effect screaming! Would you care to guess what happens when he wants yogurt but with CINNAMON, dammit, not FRUIT? Well, ordinarily fruit is delicious and he would like it. But now right now, get cinnamon because BABY ANGRY. Feel the need to SCREAM. YOU WON’T LIKE ME WHEN I’M SCREAMY. Sometimes I hear my baby but I see this:



I’d ask my friends if this is normal, but none of them with kids can hear anymore. I have a friend with three boys that gave up and decided to use baby sign language. Not for her kids, they talk just fine. She and her husband use it because their hearing is never coming back. Mac and I seek television programs we’ll enjoy that aren’t in English because then the subtitles roll merrily along and all we need to do is keep the “I’m mad because I’m mad” screams from escalating to “I might actually have a problem here” screams.

I reckon Baby could be deployed to lots of countries that value silence and decorum. See, in Brazil, I’d bet ten minutes of wiggling and dancing while you scream isn’t inappropriate, it’s part of the health plan to keep people sane and good-natured. But let’s pull this out at a meeting calling for high and strict levels of decorum. Your Russians, your Japanese, your Liechtensteiners (who are solemn because nobody ever remembers to spell their country correctly), imagine taking in this adorable child, who is renowned for his cuteness and lovability,  and letting him scream every time one of the diplomats wants to make a point. We can cut summits down to two hours, and half of that is drinking coffee and waiting for staff to put on The Wiggles again so the weapon can be diffused and sent to his nap with Norman the blue elephant and his favorite blankie.

I don’t even accept this is a phase anymore. He’s just going to scream, often, randomly, at unbelievable decibel levels every day until the day Mac and I have both gone on to our great reward. That reward will be sound cancelling headphones and a thanks from the US government for asking what we could do for this country, and answering President Kennedy’s call with the loudest human being ever created.

Don’t worry! You can thank us for our patriotism, too. In writing, please.


A blanket apology to my elders

Every young person has done it at least once in his or her life: looked at someone who is getting older and thought “Haven’t you been communicating since your 3rd birthday? Just how hard is it to tell walk into the room and tell me you’re looking for TV remote?” Or your keys. Or flamethrower. I don’t know how you live your life.

But now, as karma is wont to do, I have been unquestionably castigated for my arrogant ways. My brain has been accelerated by about 20 years and I will never, ever laugh at somebody’s senior moment again so help me deity.

Regular readers (I love each and very one of you! You don’t know how important you are to me. On a scale of “I’d spit on you to put out a fire” and “I’d donate a kidney to you” you are so much closer to kidney than you’ll ever know). Anyway. You know I have some mobility issues that have increased considerably since Baby came home. My back and front finally formed a union and they have made sure everything goes on strike. A recent MRI showed enough significant damage to my lumbar region and a disc that I’m looking at one surgery this spring, if not two.If the one in back doesn’t solve the issue they’re going through the front to monkey around some more. As I’m sure you can imagine, this has made things like picking up a squirmy little bundle of cheeks and giggles more painful for me than I can really tolerate without help. I’m now on a prescription painkiller designed to be used for long term “management of moderate to severe pain.” So! Great news! My new specialist is trying to do right by me and relieve the pain that has been genuinely impeding every facet of my life. Now here’s the bad news.

One of this drug’s primary side effects is short term memory difficulty, particularly with words. Let me get rid of medical jargon and boil this down: I CANNOT FUCKING TALK. I’ll be in the middle of a story and I need a name, or the place, or the damned punchline but poof! It has vanished like a wisp of smoke.How does somebody who teaches and writes for a living forget the word “communication?” I looked right at Mac and told him I was having such terrible, uh, uh, AAAARRRRG. I made a motion where I pointed between the two of us really fast. He says “communicate?” YES DAMMIT. I’m having real troubling communicating with my doctor about this surgery. Lest you think I’m  cherry picking a single time, here is a list of ways this has happened to me in the last week:

  • I needed help feeding the baby. You know, with the’small shovel we put in his face.”
  • I’m currently trying my hand at writing fiction for fun. This had been enjoyable until I had to press “Ctrl F” to use the search function to remember my main character’s first name. It simply would not get from my brain onto the keyboard.
  • I was remembering the day a Jewish friend invited us for Shabbat dinner. She served delicious…delicious…Google “Noodle meal for Jewish people.”
  • My son couldn’t find his– damn. Damn. Mac, where is the car with a big mouth to lift dirt? Right. The bulldozer.
  • I forgot the name of a man my husband worked with for 8 years. “Head of the Department” came out as “the chief of professors.”

It’s mostly limited to words, but other great stuff happens too. I really need to take my pills. Oh good, here they are. Wait. Are they there because I knew I needed them now, or because I just took one on autopilot? Looking up “overdose of painkiller XXX” revealed we are super sure I don’t want to be guessing on that one. Pill box, stat. I wash clothes, put them in a basket and ask Mac to carry it upstairs. I forget to hang it up right away. Next day…good morning! I should do something that will be useful around here today. So I do the dishes, vacuum if my back will let me, and take the basket of our dirty stuff sitting in our room and promptly wash it. I bet I have underwear I have washed 3 times in a row. Mac has had to explain plots of TV shows we saw just last week.

Three days ago I needed some water to take one of pills. I needed water, then to get in bed, takes meds, and rest or I was going to be in very bad shape in the upcoming hours. This is a real picture, not staged, of how I handled that.



I don’t have a clue which glass of water I made first or why I went back into the kitchen then got another one. None. At all.

The funny thing is, I don’t think any of this is serious. Everybody in the Borden household is eating, we have tons of help with Baby, and I’m very aware of my med schedule to be there for him when he needs it. I’m not a Roy Lichtenstein incident. I’ve never said “Oh my God! I left the baby on the bus!” If you don’t know that painting you should. It’s wonderful.  Although we don’t ride a bus.

Do we?

So, in conclusion, I apologize to everyone I have ever mocked for not getting your brain in gear when it really should have been. I now know it’s a little wiring glitch, is all.

I owe you. I hope you don’t expect to be greeted by name.


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