My Fresh Hell
Life in Scribbletown.

Shocking Confessions of a Bad Mom

2005-04-20
I just knew when I saw the dead, mangled possum in the yard that I was staring a bad omen in the (slightly chewed) face. We came upon the thing last week during a leisurely after dinner stroll around the estate. My husband claims it wasn’t there just a few hours earlier when he took Red out to get some wind in her fur. How it got there is a mystery. It was so far back on the property that for it to have crawled to its death after being hit by a passing vehicle would have been quite a march. Maybe a hawk dropped it? Who knows. But, soon after, Red had two near death experiences. If she was a cat, she’d be down to seven lives.

Near-Death Experience #1: Red likes to eat things off the floor. Usually what she finds are bits of Kashi puffed cereal that she's dropped on the floor because babies like to pretend their hands are windshield wipers and when you put food on their tray, swish-swish, it’s gone. Sometimes, because I am not a tidy person and do not have time to clean my house, what she finds is fuzz and lint and hairs and things that just build up in the corners of rooms and stick to the rug. You know: Filth that otherwise can’t be seen by the naked eye unless you turn all the lights on. Well, Red is so much closer to the floor than the rest of us and while she’s not practicing her walking technique (Woo, Red can walk! Help, Red can walk!), she on her hands and knees picking shit out of the carpet and putting it in her mouth. “Gross, baby!” as Dusty would say.

So, after Dusty’s put to bed, Red begins to cough and choke a bit, like a cat who’s getting ready to hurl up a big wad of grass. If you’ve ever had a cat, you know the lovely sound I’m talking about. On and on it goes but I see nothing and feel nothing when I probe her mouth (an action she VERY MUCH DOES NOT ENJOY). Whatever it is, it’s too far down her esophagus to retrieve but it’s driving her nuts. She can still breathe, so the book (you know: the “book”) says not to mess with her. How can you nonchalantly sit around watching television while a baby is coughing and choking and wheezing? I do not know. I could not. And, there was really nothing I could do except envision the way my night would change when I had to take her to the ER.

Red goes on like this for some time and occasionally coughs up a bit of milk, a speck of paper from some book she’s been gnawing on (not “the book” though) and after awhile I think, “Just swallow it, whatever it is, and let’s wait for it to come out the other end.” But no. An hour passes. She seems to have stopped. I lay her down to change her diaper and she smiles at me and I see something moving around in her mouth, like she’s chewing a wad of gum. I lunge for it and extricate the object.

It was a thumbnail-sized Colorform with green eggs and ham on it. Yee gods. A tiny piece of plastic decal that had gotten squirreled away in some cranny that Red has discovered. Oh, what a good mom I am not to have found this tiny death object in all my attempts at removing all of Dusty’s things that are not for babies (which is about 90% of everything she owns now).

Near-Death Experience #2: The same damn night, after this near disaster, Red and I finally go to sleep (we’re sorta family-bed kinda people except in this bed, it’s only us two. It makes life a little easier). Red’s side is blocked by a dresser, a port-a-crib (that she ought to be able to sleep in but doesn’t--we won't go there right now) and a couple of pillows to seal in the cracks.

Red likes to awaken every hour or so each night, just for the hell of it. Sometimes she fusses, sometimes she cries, sometimes she just slams up against me looking for the milk bar. So, I wake up at some point because she’s fussing. I look over……….

………and see two small feet sticking straight up in the air between the bed and the port-a-crib. Oh, I get the Good Mother award for that one! Poor Red had just shimmied herself sideways, removed the pillow and took a dive. If this had been a cartoon, it would have been funny. But it wasn’t. I rescued her, got her back to sleep and did not shut my eyes the rest of the night.

The next day we shoved the bed into the corner of the room – something we’ve been meaning to do for awhile now but haven’t because then the bed would block one of the two air vents in the room. Now Red sleeps in a corner hemmed in by walls. I hope that’s good enough because now she likes to STAND in her sleep. This baby’s whacked. When O When will I be able to place her in her crib? Never, apparently.

Then there was the Chicken Pox Party. Dusty got invited to another damn birthday party. Only, suddenly their baby has chicken pox. And you can’t get the vaccination until you’re 18 months old. So, I double-checked with Dusty’s doctor that, yes indeed, she’d gotten her shot a zillion years ago. She was safe but Red would have to stay home. The super-paranoid nurse I talked to recommended that Dusty remove her clothes and take a bath immediately when she got home even though the pox baby would be kept upstairs away from the partiers. "Just to be on the safe side," she said. Lord, ya know? I don't think so.

La, la, la, so I didn’t have to go! Red and I spent a lovely day alone while Dusty got her fill of strawberry cake and candy all while clinging to Daddy.

So, if you happen to see a dead possum in your yard? Lock your doors, vacuum your floors and don’t go to sleep. Something bad’s liable to almost happen.

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Beach Countdown: Three weeks from today, the Family Freshhell will be enjoying our oceanfront rental home in Sandbridge, Virginia. Wanna join us? BYOB!

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3:55 p.m. ::
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