Here We Go Again, Tiny
Settle in. This one may take a while…
This isn’t a post so much about parenting as it is about chaos, and how even in the midst of it, there are constants.
If you’ve been following along at home, you know that in my last post I was knee deep in preparations for a baby shower I was hosting Thursday evening for a good friend of mine. I met my parents in Russellville and handed over my daughter on Wednesday, planning to go to Little Rock myself to get her on Friday and, conveniently, make a trip to Stein Mart.
Don’t get jealous just yet.
After my insanity passed and I got over the need to paint something and my crazy need to carry my daughter’s princess pillow around, I realized I had some real freedom for the first time in ages. Picture it: no child, husband traveling, a clean house, friends coming over, my music blaring from the computer speakers in the kitchen as I assembled my Key Lime pie.
Then, a horrible grinding noise…again a few minutes later…it was 2:40 on Thursday afternoon and our air conditioner had stopped working. I called the HVAC company we use, and they sent Dave to our door in just under two hours. Unfortunately, Dave’s news was not good. Apparently there is no resuscitating a compressor that has (to use Dave’s words) “grounded out.”
Now some back story: when we moved into this house three years ago, it was January and we had to replace the heat exchange the first week. For the uninitiated, this is the furnace equivalent of the AC compressor. Basically, it’s expensive. Since then, we’ve dealt with a bat infestation, replaced one-third of the roof, ripped out most of the upstairs, and from April to June we suffered through many very leaky weeks while we searched for a company that would remove the asbestos shingles that tiled the other two-thirds of our roof.
Returning to last Thursday, a quick call to the guest of honor and we had made arrangements to relocate the party to her sister’s house and we all had a lovely evening scaring the pants off the pregnant girl, while I tried not to think about how hot my house was getting every minute, but how glad I was that I hadn’t tried to paint anything.
Friday morning, I was trading calls with the HVAC company, trading calls with my husband in Las Vegas, and trying to decide how to deal with this latest house crisis, when I finally got around to calling to check on my daughter. A mere 160 miles away, my dad told me that she had been fine until that morning. In a quiet moment, he had gone to investigate and discovered her staring at a picture of her father and me. He asked her what she was doing and she just started to cry. As he was telling me this, I could feel my heart start to speed up. He handed her the phone and her little girl voice said, “Mama? I miss you,” and she started crying again.
This was not the fake cry. This was the “I need my mama” cry. And really, at that moment, I could have joined her, easily. Hell House be darned. I threw some clothes in a bag, tossed the panting Needy Dog in the backseat and hit the road.
I was so anxious about seeing my daughter, I called at least three times. Was she okay? Yes. Had she stopped crying yet? Sort of. And after I hung up from each call, I wondered if she would be resentful or just relieved. She hasn’t been away from me for more than one night since she was self-aware enough to notice my absence. I called from Conway and talked to her. “I’m almost there,” I told her. “I’ll be there for lunch.”
I had our dog with me when I rang my parents’ doorbell. Peeking down the hall, my daughter saw me, saw the dog, and ran full-tilt to the door, where she checked her stride, adjusted her trajectory and lunged for the dog. Then she ran back into the kitchen calling for my dad to tell him the dog is here! The dog is here! Oh, and Mama’s here, too.
We camped in Little Rock for nearly a week, me with two pairs of white pants, one pair of khaki shorts and about four white T’s. I don’t know why this matters so much, except I got really sick of them. And contemplating paying for a new air conditioner sort of put me off Stein Mart.
Some more back story: we’re all going to my husband’s family home for a big wedding, August 2. Meanwhile, my husband is trying to manage a company in the same state, from Arkansas and other foreign points. We’ve known for weeks that my husband would have to turn around and leave for his Other Office in a matter of days after returning from Vegas. The plan had been that he would take the Needy Dog and drive there, while our daughter and I would fly there, the following week, for the wedding.
My husband came home to Fort Smith on Saturday, spent four very uncomfortable days in our 90-plus degree house, while we hashed out what to do about the air conditioner, but then simply couldn’t wait any longer to leave on his trip. Wednesday morning, after he had planned to come to Little Rock for at least a few hours with us, he realized there was just no way that plan would work.
So, we met at a McDonald’s in Russellville. As he hugged our daughter goodbye, she stabbed him in the eye with a French fry. He took the dog. We headed back to Little Rock. And on the way, the HVAC company called to tell me our new air conditioner might actually be installed the next day. I was at the point where relief that you’ve made an important decision and fatigue from the worry have formed an undertow.
Final back story: On our way home from our Christmas trip, we stopped at an Arby’s between Here and There, and were served by a surly youth who, I confess, I wanted to clobber.
That evening, my husband called to tell me that he had just been served two beef ‘n cheddar sandwiches by someone I knew.
“Who?” I asked.
“Tiny,” he said.
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