I’m a very responsible person. The only time in my life I have been grossly unprepared was when I went into labor.
That fateful day, a coworker was nice enough to drive me to the hospital after my water broke at work (ever tried to run really fast down a hallway while squeezing your legs together and balancing 45 pounds of Humpty-Dumpty-ness?—I looked like a bouncing egg on a toothpick).
First, we stopped at my house so I could get some supplies. When I emerged from the house holding a hand towel (I didn’t want to get her seat wet) and my purse, she gave me a funny look.
“Don’t you want to bring anything else?”
I know now that I was in complete denial that I was having a baby. I had read all the pregnancy magazines for fuck’s sake. I knew I was supposed to bring an organic cotton bathrobe, CDs that played soothing nature sounds, board games, a llama, and my masseuse (aren’t those magazines ridiculous?—I mean, you’re going to expel a child not have a damn facial).
But silly me, I brought a hand towel and credit cards.
And it sucked. Enduring 24 hours of labor without my Mr. Snuggles bunny slippers was the price I paid for not being prepared.
I learned my lesson.
Do you hear that? That’s Junior’s “other” personality laughing at me.
In a matter of days, Junior has blossomed from an angelic, easygoing cherub into the spawn of Satan. Gone is the mound of pliable, grinning mush. This new high maintenance child screams bloody murder if you try to sit and play—how dare you!—instead of holding his hands and walking him around the house. And praise the saints if you try to guide him in a direction he doesn’t want to go. More tears and tantrum—which then dissipate in a matter of milliseconds if he gets his way. It’s downright eerie.
He’s Holly Hobbie meets Chucky meets Frankenstein meets Lassie. Chuck and I think he may be bipolar.
Which is what I was telling a coworker today.
“He turned schizo over the weekend,” I blubbered. “We just weren’t prepared. He’s unstable.”
I waited for her to tell me what I could do to remedy the situation but instead she laughed in my face and told me there are going to be a lot of things about parenting that I’m not going to be prepared for.
She was right. I can have all my ducks in a perfectly straight, organized row, but that doesn’t mean he’s not going to throw me massive curve balls every two days (if this is pedestrian to you then congratulations, you’re, like, 100 times more parentally enlightened than I).
All afternoon I kept thinking about that little yellow hand towel. Maybe, deep down, I knew the uncertainty that lay ahead and maybe that towel was a metaphor. Maybe I knew that no matter how much I prepared, I’d never be…prepared.
Or maybe—most probably—it was just a fuzzy ole hand towel.