Due to Extenuating Circumstances

Adventures in Unplanned Parenthood

Archive for the tag “#Mac”

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.


Reasons My Baby is Crying

One year old edition:

  1. He is not allowed to stick his head in the living room trash can
  2. I won’t let him eat splinters the cat has scratched off of the baskets that were supposed to be a tasteful and low-budget place to put away toys in the living room
  3. He waved a plastic spoon at the cat, the cat tried to catch it in his claws, and it scared him. Which then scared the cat. I now have a crying baby and an actual, substantive scaredy cat in my living room.
  4. The baby isn’t allowed to throw Cheerios at me while I’m trying to feed him food that contains anything other than Cheerios
  5. The Cheerios are damp because he drooled on them
  6. The Cheerios are missing because he threw them on the ground
  7. We’re out of Cheerios
  8. Mommy left him alone to put on pants that can be seen outside the house so she can BUY MORE FUCKING CHEERIOS WHAT, DID YOUR BIRTH PARENTS BUY YOU STOCK IN GENERAL MILLS?
  9. Daddy can be heard on the stairs but not seen.
  10. Daddy can be seen in the kitchen but isn’t talking directly to him.
  11. Daddy is looking at him and talking to him but he wants the cat.
  12. He’s not allowed to eat paper towels
  13. He’s not allowed to suck on the ends of computer charging cords
  14. He is only allowed one episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood a day, and that’s 7/8 more of an episode than Mommy can handle without doing something more stimulating, like sticking her hand in a Veg-O-Matic
  15. He wonders why his train stops rolling when it hits something
  16. He stood up using the bottom of the couch for support then got scared of heights
  17. He smelled his own fart and got angry
  18. He saw a picture of himself on my phone then got sad when the screen went blank
  19. “Rock Out Elmo” fell over and it looks like he’s having a seizure
    • OK, I’ll give him that one
  20. I came in from shoveling snow and directly went to put my cold hands in his pajamas to change his diaper.
    • OK, I give him that one, too.

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.


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.


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.


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.


Mac and I had a fantastic idea for updating our tiny living room and making things safer for Baby. We would move bookshelves, anchor them into the wall, then put the new TV entertainment center between them. This would solve one problem we have had with keeping everything safe– the baby wouldn’t be able to crawl around the sides or back. We would then put all of the components behind glass so he can’t stick his chubby little fingers into all of the slots/inputs/outputs/shotputs. This was entirely Mac’s territory and he did his job well. Except for one, tiny detail.

The original idea was to get glass doors that had knobs in the center, so we could capture them together with a childproofing lock like so:


But Mac got one with doors that slide on a track. No problem! Mac got dowels to put in the track and I painted them to be invisible. The baby would never even know it could be opened.

Those of you with children are already wondering how Mac and I manage to dress ourselves in the morning given our obvious mental deficiencies.

Over the course of the afternoon we get the whole center built and installed. Mac gets the thing put together, puts all of the cords in, plugs it in, I’m dusting away and artfully arranging books to cover cords. This thing is a masterpiece. It looks fantastic. I get the dowels. Mac goes outside to move some hoses before we get winter weather. I head downstairs and into the garage with a screwdriver we didn’t need. In the time it takes me to put away a SINGLE item in our garage, I hear sliding above my head. Let us take a quick peek into my thought process at that moment:

Huh! I hear sliding. There’s nothing up there that moves that much. Besides, the baby can’t even properly crawl yet, he just butt scoots…but there it is again. And back again? What do we own that slides back and forth ohmygodrunupthestairsnownownow GAAAAAAAH!

There is my son sitting directly in front of the entertainment center, happily sliding the glass door back and forth, back and forth. He can reach all the knobs, all the ports, all the cords. His fat little fingerprints are running the length of the glass door where he has tested how many different ways he can make the cool glass door glide to and fro. But not prints from both hands. No, just the prints from his right. Why only his right?

Because his left hand is for holding the trophy.


In under 60 seconds our son scooted to the entertainment center, disabled the “childproofing” then played with his new toy. I don’t even try to solve it. I pick up that stupid dowel, walk right out to our front porch and tell Mac the damn hoses can sit and spin.

“Go to the hardware store NOW. We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

Oscar: Wild

As you may have noticed, the Extenuating Circumstances often end on a lighthearted note concerning Oscar, our much beloved cat. I adopted Oscar in a fit of total, total insanity.

There was a week about three years ago where SEVEN of my friends on Facebook messaged me to tell me they were going public with the news of their pregnancies. I dutifully answered each message with a “thanks for the heads up, I appreciate it, we’re fine, congrats, blah blah blah.” The truth was more like “thanks for the heads up, I appreciate the warning so I can comment on one picture of you glowing with your newborn, I need to block you so I don’t end up in a pool of tears every single time one of your posts crosses my feed, we’re not fine but we act like we are because we’re the real-life equivalent of the Harry Potter Dementors if we’re honest, I need to block you so my neurosis doesn’t get me hospitalized or fired. Congrats. Now hand me some tissues and a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Half Baked.”

The night of the seventh message, I calmly collected my materials, calmly drove to class, calmly delivered material on the role Michael Collins played in the Irish bid for Independence, then calmly walked to my car and had a complete nervous breakdown. I would have driven to the hospital or my house but I couldn’t remember where either one was located. My car drove itself to Pet Smart, which was a neat trick because at the time I drove a car so shitty that lemons were offended by the comparison.

The fact remains that I went to Pet Smart and picked out a small, cute orange cat. He was perfect. Then he ran away from me. So I picked up an old soggy thing that was shedding like it was his damn job. But he purred a little and was too lazy to run, so I adopted him instead.

That’s a lie. I forgot I had no money so my husband gave his credit card number over the phone. Mac had adopted and paid for a cat and didn’t even know it.

This is a testimony to the strength of my marriage. I brought this home:


and all Mac asked was “should I buy a litter box? Thus began life with Oscar the Grouch, famous for being found in a trash can.

As you are now well aware, in the wee hours of December 2014 we did add the baby to our family. We didn’t consult Oscar, it just happened. I have to give Oscar credit. He tolerates the new obnoxious kitten better than I had feared. The new kitten tries to eat his fur, grab his face, squeeze his tail, poke his eyes, and run sticky fat fingers over his belly. Oscar treats the kitten like an adorable little peasant that is amusing for a time. Oscar also walks away rather than retaliating, most of the time. One swipe at the baby’s face concerned me but it turned out Oscar chose to not use his claws. That’s pretty good restraint for a cat that had mom and dad to himself for three years.

Oscar and baby were both brought in to complete a puzzle that was missing some pieces. I like to think Oscar knows that. I like to think Oscar gets that we need the baby, just like we needed him, to avoid meltdowns in my car at 9:00 at night. But mostly, I think of Oscar as a testament to the strength of a family that isn’t born together, it’s brought together. The Borden household is a place where we find our family, and then put that family on a credit card. But that’s a tale for the next installment.

The Curious Incident of the Blog in the Nighttime

I often find myself staring at this screen, typing into the DtEC blog editing tool, late at night. On some level that doesn’t surprise me because I have always, always been a night owl. Whether I want it or not my brain likes to energize itself after dark. Consequently, getting up early is hell. I can *do* it when required in order to project a facade of adultness, but I really suck at it. What’s funny is that location, schedule, enjoyment of activity or even money make no difference. I spent a summer being paid to work in a theatre, live in the mountains and do nothing but act and live the good life. And I STILL hated dragging my ass out of bed for an 8 AM start. Lest you think this is a product of a permissive or neglectful upbringing, let me set the record straight.

My mom is very, very big into sleeping at night and being a productive member of society from 8 AM onward. Morning is morning. I rather thought my dad had the right idea; be a cop, work crappy hours, then sleep in the basement with tinfoil over the windows. Of course I can see now working third shift and raising kids at the same time probably sucked, not the least of which was that we turned his basement window well into a soccer goal and I was a shit goalie. The man didn’t sleep more than four hours at a time from 1984-1987. Still, working at night and sleeping in the day just looks right to me. It’s no different than clothes or music. Everyone has their taste and everyone secretly hates everyone else’s taste.

My husband, bless him, embraces my night owlish lifestyle. He also aids and abets me in hiding it from my mom. If I nap, sleep late, get out of bed at 4 for a piddling reason like a housefire, my mother can be counted on to utter The Prophecy. The Prophecy is always delivered in a tone of warning and fear, with a dash of menace:

“Sarah, you’re getting your days and nights switched around!”

The Prophecy never varies in word choice or tone. It is delivered with an intensity hitherto reserved for sentences like “no, this IS the last plane out of Saigon.”

So you can understand how adopting the baby was the first time in my whole life my mother ever gave permission to sleep and work these weird hours. She even said to me “you sleep when the baby sleeps.” Holy cow! My mom just gave me carte blanche! I can be up til 3! I can nap at 6 pm! This is going to be the only time in my life I don’t harbor a secret disquietude my schedule shames my entire family!

This should have been a relief. Hell, it should have been a cakewalk. In my stunning naiveté I thought the baby would sleep. This is a LIE. It’s a lie sold to the American consumer by cradle companies and mobile manufacturers. I blame Hollywood. All these ads of little swaddled bundles, with eyes closed and adorable nostrils gently fluttering. Bullshit. Utter bullshit. I lived in the same room as Baby for 3 weeks and I can tell you he never did anything that resembled substantive sleep.

What did he do? He waited until Mac and I had a loose schedule so we could attempt to even think about sleeping. Then the baby would close his eyes and snuggle into his little sleepsack, looking adorable. He’d make a tiny cooing sound. A few minutes later, a squeak. “Oh!” we’d say. “He’s so precious!” we’d say. Then little bubbles. And another coo. I’d close my eyes. All is well.

Wait– was that the baby? Did he squirm? Was that the sleepsack? Then a slight shift of Baby’s head and I’d immediately run over to the crib, desperately trying to remember the 5 Warning Signs of SIDS, Proper Swaddling 101, the number to 911 (answer: 911) and wishing the Bat Signal was a real thing.

I’d finally feel reassured Baby was OK, these were all normal sounds, and then phbbt. Well now, what the hell was that? A burp? A fart? Is he gassy? Does he need drops? Can we even give him drops? Robin’s a nurse, I should text her about those drops. Crap, my phone is where Mac is trying to sleep.


Now I’m definitely not going to sleep. Yes, technically I should be, since Baby is sleeping, but what was the phbbbbbbt? Is he hungry? Angry? Snotty? I give up. I have to go look again. And there I am, trying hard to find the source of this stupid noise, when it occurs to me AJ said moms can hear their babies even when the babies aren’t really making any noise at all. Oh GREAT. The ink isn’t even dry on the adoption papers and I’ll be carted off to a rubber room because I hear phantom phbbbbbbts at…midnight? 3 pm? The year 2017? Time and space have no meaning now. I have been awake since the dawn of man.

Which is why it gives me such infinite, sublime pleasure to have my mother babysit for us overnight. Sure, it means eating my dinner at the temperature God intended and the possibility of sex with my husband (don’t be daft. This is a family blog. We don’t actually have sex, we talk about it then fall asleep while trying to grade assignments handed in last fall that we never got to). And of course, the baby is a little prince most of the time for his beloved grandma. But there is a palpable satisfaction to showing up the next day knowing that no matter how fussy, how colicky, how cranky our bundle of joy was ALL NIGHT LONG, I always have the option of saying

“well sorry, Mom. Just sleep when he sleeps.”

I am raising a Somebody

I have noticed two odd behaviors that I never considered before I became a parent. One, why do I always address my child in the interrogatory? “Good morning? Did we sleep? Did we? Oh, look at you, are you a gorgeous baby or WHAT?!” Why am I asking him so many questions? It’s not like he’s going to answer. It’s not even like the questions need an answer. If I walk in on my child before noon, and he has been lying prone in his crib with closed eyes, then I should know that it’s morning and he has been asleep.If I own a watch and can identify a sleeping human there is no need for the Guantanamo treatment.

There are also questions that I do in a sing-song voice, and I always promised I wouldn’t do the Baby Voice. I hate the Baby Voice. It’s condescending and annoying. Plus, how can I expect him to talk and behave like a normal human when I speak to him in a key only my dog can hear? But there it is. I hear myself do it every day. “Are you happy to see me?” becomes


This goes on all day. “Are you hungry? Do you want some yogurt? Oooh! How about some applesauce in your yogurt?” If I ask a really long question I need a vocal warm up so I don’t blow my chords on the high C. I have so many fucking questions. The really strange questions, though, are the ones I refuse to acknowledge pertain to my particular baby. This is the second behavior I have noticed and I have absolutely zero explanation for it. These are the questions about my baby that are ostensibly not about my baby. These are always Somebody questions.

“Do I hear somebody crying?” The answer is always yes. If I didn’t hear the crying I would have left him to quietly chew on the cat’s tail while I grade 23 sophomore essays. That takes a long time to grade, when you factor in how to explain a sophomore in college shouldn’t be writing a sentence that contains no discernible verb.

“Did somebody poop his pants? Let’s check!” Come on, now. If there’s any question at all who pooped his pants and I’m not located in the center of a daycare or, for accuracy’s sake, a facility for the elderly, then there is something very wrong with somebody and I am that somebody.

“Did somebody fall over again? Oopsies!” Well, yes, Sarah. At any given moment it’s even betting that one of the world’s myriad narcoleptics, vertigo sufferers, Lindsay Lohan, what have you, has taken a tumble. If you’re staring at your baby and he’s no longer in the upright and locked position just PICK HIM UP.

“Is somebody cranky?” Yes, and it’s Mac. Next?

“Is somebody ready for a nap?” See above.

“Is somebody trying to drive mommy insane?” Lady, the list is endless.

“Is somebody succeeding?”

Yep. It’s Mommy.

Breaking Mad

Attention! Due to extenuating circumstances, the following separation anxiety protocol will be followed: if the baby sees you, you must not leave his sight. For those visiting the Borden household, job resignation forms will be available upon request. Once here, should you need the bathroom before baby turns 5, you will provide (at your own cost) a full-sized cardboard cutout of yourself such as one sees of film stars or Star Trek cast members. Showering takes you away from baby too long, be advised there is a babywipe and Axe body spray regimen in effect. Options to be tongue-bathed by the cat will be considered on a case by case basis. Bring photos of your own family unless they wish to join you here with baby. Remind them to budget for cardboard cutouts.

Hey! Six months is a pretty great age. The weird, colicky “cry for no reason” hobby has faded away. Painful teething is still part-time work. His little personality is shining through. Every time he hears music, he turns to see where it’s coming from. He can tell when I’m going to pick him up because he can hear the velcro on my abdominal brace so he kicks and squeals with delight. The only issue, and I hesitate to complain here, is that after years of a completely child-free existence I now cannot leave this particular child for more than a fraction of a second. The universe is making up for those childless years by making certain I must be permanently attached to Baby. The “Separation Anxiety” Phase is a unique time in the development of a child, in which every moment the baby and parent are apart there is tremendous frustration, uncertainty, apprehension and unease. All that, plus whatever the hell is going on in the baby’s mind.

I can’t stand to leave him! It’s not that I love him so intensely it borders on the pathological (although a case could be made for that) it’s the anticipation he will WAIL. And wail and waaaaaail. This developed in the space of a day. Morning, I go to make him a bottle and some carrots–no problem. Afternoon I go to the bathroom and WAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLLL. And it’s not even the worst with me! When Mac comes in the baby can’t stand it if Mac briefly moves out of his line of sight. Mac hasn’t left the room and Baby wails merely anticipating the impending possibility of separation.

Meanwhile, when I’m alone with Baby during the day I sound like a third-rate rap star. I’m always talking about myself in the third person when I leave the room, hoping the kid will eventually understand I don’t literally disappear when I go to make the bed. “Mommy is going to the bedroom! Mommy is just making the bed! Mommy is speaking in the third person and verbally tweeting the useless details of her day to an audience who genuinely couldn’t care less!”

After three weeks of this I’m toying with positively insane ideas to combat this separation anxiety. I try to figure out exactly what he’s missing and replicate that. The sound of my voice doesn’t do it, so if I need to go somewhere in the house and I can’t take him with me (at this point I absolutely can’t carry him as I’m recovering from surgery) I put the TV on so he can see other people. I put him in his swing so it feels like he’s being cradled. I even leave a Tshirt I sleep in near him so it will smell like I’m still there. I don’t know why I thought that would work, and it didn’t, but I was desperate. Anything to escape the terrified screeching when momentarily out of Baby’s presence.

It has been a few months now, and we’re still barely out of the baby wipe/Axe phase. I have been relegated to the second tier Anxiety status; he’s mildly concerned if I’m the only person around he knows. Mac, on the other hand, is still First Tier, Code Red, The World is Ending status. God help me if Mac comes and goes several times in a day. Baby just starts to believe the dream is real: Daddy is HOME! Then it’s shattered as Daddy disappears to do trivial things like go back to work, eat, sleep, attend his brother’s funeral. Anything, really, is less pressing than Baby.

Funny thing, the Separation Anxiety phase. It’s loud and demanding and intense and insane. I think we’ll both miss it when it’s gone.

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