I haven't got a name for my fumbling, bumbling alter ego—the one who once tossed trash from the car into the garage bins, along with her car keys—but I'm thinking that she needs one.
She has accomplished far too much to continue nameless. She places the Slip 'n' Slide on fire ant piles. She crushes dreams and squashes desires like no one's business. She sets up her daughter for wardrobe malfunctions. She makes questionable word choices. She
shops horrifically. And after yesterday's debacle, it is clear that it is high time that she had a name.
Yesterday, fatigue sneaked up on me. I felt like I used to feel during those four-in-the-morning nursings when Connor was wide awake and Ready to Get This Day Started! and I struggled to keep my spinning, twirling, so-desperate-for-sleep eyes open.
I consider brewing a cup of coffee, but the thought of slipping into the syrupy goodness of a nap trumped that cup of get-up-and-go.
And, wouldn't you know? Luck was on my side: Natalie announced that she was tired. "Is it nappytime?" she asked, hopeful.
Hotdiggitydog. It is.
I set the alarm on my phone to wake us at 2:30, so we would have time to wake and freshen up before we fetch Connor from school at three o'clock. And then, we two girls snuggle in for a long autumn nap.
At some point, I drift reluctantly from sleep. Hmm. It's been a while. It's probably about time to wake up. The responsible me suggests that I check the time: "I'd hate to be late picking up Connor from school," she says, wagging her finger at me. The exhausted me says, "Dude. You set an alarm. Sleep."
And because the tired mind is a persuasive mind, I nestle back into my heap of covers and fall asleep to the tst-tst-tst sound of Natalie sucking her wee little thumb. I wake next to the sound of my phone thump-thump-thumping a guitar riff. I'm cuddling my cheek against Natalie's bare foot. And I know—I just know (with quite a bit of dread)— who is on the line.
"Hello?" My voice has that undeniable "Yeah. I've been sleeping. What of it?" sound to it.
"Mrs. Linney? This is the elementary school. Connor is here with me and—"
I glance at the clock. 3:17. 3:17! Technology failed me all day yesterday, so it stands to reason that the alarm that I had set would take a pass, too.
"Oh, goodness!" (For the record, that is not the word that I wanted to use. At all.) And, of course, in my dreamy nappytime delirium, I feel the need to explain—no, confess: "I fell asleep."
Honesty might be a lonely word, and honesty might be the best policy, but blah-bitty-blah-blah-blah. I really could have kept that little tidbit about falling asleep to myself.
"I'll be right there," I say. Now I'm awake.
I scoop Natalie from the bed. "We have to pick up Connor," I explain.
"Huh? Connor?" She's confused. She puts her thumb back in her mouth and falls asleep on my shoulder.
I race toward the garage and race just as quickly back to the bedroom, when I chuck off my slippers and step into my shoes. Then, it's back toward the garage.
"See you soon, Trouser. We have to go."
Again with the unnecessary statements. Trouser looks up at me from the sunny spot on the kitchen floor. She's all drowsy-eyed and rumply of fur. If she had thought bubbles, this one would read, "Really? You couldn't just slip out quietly?"
The route out of our neighborhood seems painstakingly indirect, and, of course, the longest. freight train. ever. slithers leisurely across the very tracks that I need to cross to reach Connor's school.
We jounce over the tracks as soon as the gates rise up. I skip the part where I say, "Ge-de-ge-de-gump," like I do when we drive over bumpy train tracks. I zip closer and closer to the school, but then slow to a torturous crawl in the 20 mph school zone.
Parking is no trouble at this hour. I have my choice of spots along the curb right in front of the school. (Yay, me.)
And then, I do what can only be described as the parenting equivalent of the Walk of Shame.
Connor has his face pressed to the glass wall of the office. A teacher walks out of the office and just stands there in the lobby, looking at me as I struggle to heave open the ridiculously heavy doors, which, I'm convinced, are filled with lead. The secretaries, both of them, look up. And the teacher sitting with Connor? She just looks at me. She doesn't say a word. She doesn't return my weak smile. She just looks.