A big thank you to Mary for the invitation to write for PDXX. I’m happy to be here.
The mommy voice is a scary one. Because it is so universal and so personal at the same time, nothing any mom says can speak for the collective, but everyone can relate to everything one mom says.
I’ll start, then, by saying this:
I am sometimes terrible at this mother thing. I pack the wrong lunch, let them watch TV, miss dentist appointments, let my 4 year old son manipulate me into one more and one more book when it is already past bedtime, give my 19 month old daughter another cookie when she’s already had 3. Occasionally though, I do something right; my daughter laughs a belly laugh, my son tells me he loves me, and my sky opens up directly to heaven. Seriously, I swear it.
One thing I know for sure though, my kids have my number, and I thought I should start with that:
The other day, I got a phone call:
“Don’t worry Francesca, everything is fine.”
Our babysitter never calls me. Never. We have a deluge of lighthearted texts through out the day – she sends me pictures of our baby, I smile and say thanks a lot. But she never calls. So when I saw her name come up on the caller id, I was terrified.
“What happened?” I asked cautiously.
“Ok, I was taking the trash out (4 feet from the front door) but it was so cold that I left B inside. I turned, and she looked at me, smiled, said “bye-bye” and closed the door. I thought it would be OK, because it doesn’t lock. But then I heard a click. She had locked the door!”
Not knowing where in the story we were –inside, cuddling B to her chest as she told this story? At the fire department, wiping the scared tears from my baby’s cheek? Still outside, watching B from the window, playing peek-a-boo?
“Where are you?” I asked.
“I’m inside, everything’s fine. I asked your neighbor for a key, he didn’t have it. But he had a ladder. “
Our nanny is pregnant, and imagining her shimmying up a ladder to the second floor to see if the window might be cracked open in 20-degree weather seemed impossible to fathom.
“He climbed to the second floor. The window was open a little.”
Now, I’m thinking, wow that’s really nice of our neighbor. I need to get him a pie. And also, wow I should probably reinforce the windows on my children’s windows because it is apparently pretty easy to get in, and wow I can’t believe she remained so calm, I would have freaked out. Finally I thought of the thing that should have occurred to me the whole time. Probably first.
“What was B doing that whole time?”
“She was just sitting on the floor, playing with her blocks. I was worried about her, but I kept watching her. She was laughing. “
There are so many things about this story that are wonderful. I am blessed to have a nanny that remains calm, is resourceful, starts phone calls with “Everything is fine now” which seems like the right place to start when you are giving bad news about other people’s children. I am so lucky to have neighbors who care, who are willing and able to scale buildings and save my daughter. I’m bringing him that pie tonight, for sure.
But I never hid a key I never gave one to the neighbors. The truth is, I’m just trying to make it through the day and collapse eventually onto my unmade bed. I never talked to our nanny about what to do in an emergency – was this an emergency? I trust her, which goes a very long way, but still.
But here’s the most interesting: My daughter locked herself in the house. And I am pretty sure she did it on purpose and thought it was hysterical.
I could go two ways on this. I am pretty sure that if I really paid attention, if I planned and organized and forecasted, I could stop a lot of disasters where my kids are concerned. Not all of them, but many. So, this story could make me feel pretty inadequate. It could make me sort of mad that I wasn’t there. That I’m not there more.
But the truth is, it is just unbelievably funny. Everyone is fine. Imagining little B, sitting smack in the middle of the carpet, stacking blocks in a warm house while the adults in her life spun around, freezing, trying to save her, just about sums up her little maniacal personality. Funny is fine. I’ll go with that.