So, I’m really not a maternal person. I used to think I was, but then I miscarried and Gail’s daughter, whom I adored, died six months later. Now, babies make me completely paranoid. I don’t even like to hold them, because they might choke on something and die in my care. If I’m invited to a baby shower, I don’t even look at the registry. I just buy glass bottles so your baby doesn’t get brain cancer from the plastic ones. I understand that you’ll probably return it, but whatever. I’m not contributing to the death of your kid and that’s just the same as giving a gift card. I hope that, one day, if I ever give a guy a second date and it eventually leads to marriage, he’ll be confident in my mothering ability and pressure me to breed, because I generally think I’d like to give that another go… when I’m like thirty… two. In the last few years, however, I’ve become convinced that I’m completely incapable of being a mom. It’s not even because I don’t like kids all that much. I’m sure it’s just other people’s kids I don’t like. Rather, I’m focusing on the trivial, background moments in life as a sign of something greater. For example…
I can’t keep a cactus alive.
That is not an exaggeration. I’ve killed several… and some ivy. For years, the weather would warm up and I’d think “Plants! Plants would look great on my patio!” So I’d spend $30 on the prettiest little full sun flowers Lowe’s had to offer and they would look great… for four days. Four days y’all! Inevitably, day five would hit and these pretty pink flowers would start to brown and wilt just slightly. I’d water them more, because the Southern sun was just too severe on the west side of my apartment complex. By day seven, they would be pitifully shriveled and I’d still be someone who worked two jobs and was in graduate school and I’d ultimately just say “Fuck it. It’s just a stupid plant.” A part of me, however, wouldn’t want to give in, so I’d just leave the flowers on the patio. I mean, I spent $30 on them! So, my pretty little patio with its white southern rockers and discount wind chimes was also adorned with dead plants. A year ago, I figured out the solution. I’m upstairs. You can barely see my patio plant life. That means you can’t tell that I just bought some fake flowers from The Dollar Tree and shoved them in some soil. You can’t do this with babies, y’all. You can’t just let them die and pretend they’re still alive and then replace them with dolls. People are going to notice.
I keep my dog alive… because he reminds me.
Okay. So the plants are hopeless, partly because I don’t notice I suck at plants until they’re half dead, partly because of my “it’s just a stupid plant” mentality, and partly because I could kill a fucking redwood. I’m just a really busy person. I don’t have time to keep anything alive unless it’s cute. My dog, however, is five years old with the same energetic spirit he had when he chewed up a pack of pens at 9 months, happily giving me his puppy dog grin with ink all over his mouth. Clearly, I can keep something alive and healthy, right? You see, Jude and I have this little… routine… it’s more like a skit really. I go to wash my hands and he barks and howls at me. It’s fucking adorable. It’s also because I forgot to give him water. In my defense, I’d probably remember if it weren’t for our little play. At this point, I’ve just accepted the fact that if he’s thirsty, he’ll tell me. He free eats as well, meaning I give him a huge bowl of food and he just eats it as he wishes over the next several days. Then he bugs the hell out of me when I have food to remind me that he’s out… or that he’s just spoiled and wants table scraps. It’s an imperfect system. He may even get into my bag looking for food (even if he has some) and chew open a pack of bullets or eat my headphones. Yes, we’d make a great sitcom about an inept dog owner who let her puppy eat a pack of pens… and possibly a bullet. I can’t even imagine that ER visit with a child.
I abused an electronic doll.
The graduating class of 2006 was the first to try out the new Baby Think It Over dolls. The edition before this required the user to jam a key in the doll’s back with enough force that it couldn’t be duct taped until it stopped crying… just like a real baby? I don’t know. I don’t have children. Anyway, the 2006 version required diaper changes and bottles placed to the lips. It sounded like a real baby that eats way too loudly and only breathes periodically. Our school didn’t have a fantastic budget for this program, however, so we got to take it home for just one day, while the neighboring town requires four. It pretty much taught me that babies are absolutely fucking adorable and everyone wants to hold them, so I’ll get tons of attention for having one, too. Fantabulous. The point of the project was not to just stay inside and chill out with no other responsibilities, however. You were supposed to take the baby out and multitask to care for it while old ladies in the grocery stores gave you dirty looks. Since I lived for shock value at 16, Gail and I had a ton of fun with this assignment. Then I got my grade. If you’ve read anything I’ve written, you should know about the time I wept over a 98.5%… like six months ago. When I got my 92% on the baby project, I was upset enough to ask why. “A low A?!?!?! Why did I get a LOW A?!?!?!” The teacher explained to me that while she’ll excuse one head drop (the baby had a wobbly head you had to hold up), she had to take off points for the second one… and the child abuse. Apparently, not only did I drop this child’s head twice, but in my attempt to quell the baby’s cries in the milk aisle, I tried to burp it too enthusiastically and the computer registered this as if I threw the poor thing up against a wall. While this project taught me that babies are the most fun a 16-year-old girl will ever have and child abuse isn’t that bad, I’m still a paranoid person. I accidentally abused a hypothetical child. What if it wasn’t while burping it? What if I blacked out? Oh, God, what if I have some kind of neurological issue that makes me hit babies?!?!
I killed my water baby.
Come to think of it, that wasn’t, in fact, the first time I abused a tiny pretend person. It could be neurological! Okay, I have to stop joking about that or I’m going to find myself crying uncontrollably in an MRI machine. The first time, I was four years old. Water baby was the most awesome toy on the planet after the umbrella we used to hold while jumping out of trees in an attempt to fly. I had a really unsupervised childhood, which might explain why I had free usage of dangerous kitchen equipment at fucking four. The best thing about Water Baby was that it felt like a real baby when you filled it up with warm water. I, however, couldn’t get the plug out of its back on my own (an admittedly ideal feature) and my mother wouldn’t just refill the baby every time it cooled down. Some mothering instincts she had, huh? So, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Please do not misunderstand this. No part of me was worried that my baby was feeling uncomfortable cold. I was just frustrated, because I wanted my doll warm. Purely selfish reasons. Ask any four-year-old how they make something warm quickly. The answer is obvious. Microwave it. Yes, yes, I did blow up my baby doll. Not only that, but I didn’t even realize until later when I asked my mother what happened to my Water Baby and she explained that it had a hole in it. I wasn’t even concerned. I just wanted a new one. Again, you can’t do this with real children. You don’t just get another one after microwaving the first.
Summary: If my baby can make it out of my hostile blender of a uterus, I may leave it out to die in the elements, forget to feed it, accidentally kick it in the head, and then pop it in the microwave. Anyone need a sitter?