I played hookie today so I could take Junior to story time at the library. My mom has been hinting that she’d like to take him one of the days she baby sits, so I had to beat her to the punch.
I had to.
Call it sad. Call it queer. I really don’t care. When you get home from work one day and see that your mother has changed your son from the “Mom” shirt he was wearing into a plain, navy tee for no apparent reason other than she wants your baby to be her baby, you must be the first to bring him to story time.
The impetus for all this neck-and-neck (besides the wardrobe switch)? Last night. Junior and I were watching the election countdown and he was standing by the couch, letting go with his hands and beaming as he balanced. I said, “Come here!” and, like something out of a Hallmark made-for-TV movie, he did. My little gremlin took four steps—four very even steps—and fell into my arms.
Do I even need to tell you that I scooped him up and covered him with mom slobber? I was in Working Mother’s Heaven. I have been begging him and pleading with him not to take his first steps while I’m at work and there he went—stepping right into my open arms.
Chuck was at a late meeting; I had to call someone and share the news.
“Mom? Junior walked to me. He took his first steps.”
(There was a time when I used to call my mom and she’d have to call me back because she was vacuuming the dog; how I wish that had happened here.)
“He walked?” my mother asked. “Did he do that for you?”
“What do you mean, ‘for me’ ?”
“Nothing. He’s only been standing for me. Just standing. Yesterday when I was there with him—and Chuck—he let go and stood there—three small steps—stood there—didn’t come to me—just small steps—and standing—there—and—barely saw it—small—standing—”
“You must be so happy you saw it. Since you’re out of the house.”
Screech. Out of the house? What the fuck kind of esoteric comment is that? What does she think I have been doing out.of.the.house? Peddling pixie dust? Inviting people to the circus? Writing love letters to Richard Simmons? I have been working to help my family keep our house and eat and enjoy amenities like clothing and shampoo.
When I got off the phone my head exploded. It was really gross. Poor Chuck had to order me a new one. Luckily it came just in time for story time. And luckily the library let me borrow the new and improved “Grammying for Dummies: How not to stomp on your daughter's heart.”
When I recorded the cheery and exclamation-riddled “first step” entry in Junior’s baby book I had a good laugh (I’d had some wine at that point). And I thought, Oh, Junior. Your baby book is so emotionally gilded it makes my fillings hurt.