I have a million things to do today. There are deadlines and dishes to wash and floors to sweep and laundry to do and a million other things that need my attention. But my daughter is having a rough day. She has 3 teeth that are all competing for her attention and trying their best to be the next to appear. They’ve been pestering her off and on for weeks. So instead of sorting through boxes, I’m tickling a belly. Instead of returning “important” phone calls, I’m turning a little girl upside down. Instead of washing dishes, I’m coloring beside her. Instead of sweeping floors, I’m bouncing her on my knee. And when she finally feels like she can settle down to nap, I’m dropping everything, closing the laptop, and whispering calm, loving words to her as she nurses to sleep. Now, I sit quietly beside her, reaching out a comforting hand as she stirs and fusses in and out of sleep. I don’t dare move because I know she’ll wake, and she needs this rest. Everything else can wait, because the first thing on every day’s To-do list is “Be a mom.” It never gets checked off, because it never ends, but there is nothing more rewarding or satisfying in the world. My child is resting now, because I am beside her, being a mom.
I’m going to deviate from the norm of this blog and tell a story of tonight’s thrilling adventure. I arrived home tonight, exhausted and still in my Wonder Woman costume from the day’s Halfway to Halloween festivities. Owl had slept all the way home (a good thing since she fought off the morning nap until 15 minutes before we arrived at our party). I carried the various boxes and bags into the kitchen while Owl waited patiently in her car seat. When I carried the final box up onto the porch, I discovered the door was locked. I could see the keys lying on the kitchen island, mocking me. I looked at the dog, who gave me the usual, “Sorry, no opposable thumbs” excuse and refused to open the door.
OK, so here I am, in a Wonder Woman costume, locked out of a house I keep battened down like it’s Fort Knox, with my daughter in the car and no phone. Owl is in a gorgeous butterfly faerie costume that was plenty warm for the car ride, but not really warm enough for the 60 degrees the temperature had dipped to since we’d left for home an hour before. Her jacket was in the kitchen with everything else I’d just brought in. I pulled the stroller off the porch, bundled Owl up in blankets, and headed to my sister’s house (about 1/4 mile away) to borrow her key. As long as my sister was home, this adventure would come to a quick denouement, and we’d be back on track to get changed into normal clothes and have dinner.
As I rounded the corner from my road, I could already see that my sister’s car was not in her driveway. Drat! Well, maybe she left my key (used earlier to come in and feed the dog) on the kitchen table, and I could just pop in and grab it. I needed to get in my sister’s back door, which is now blocked off by the fence for her recently-adopted rescue dog (one of the sweetest dogs ever born into this world, by the way). To get in, I had to climb up the side of her deck. In a skirt. Well, it WAS a Wonder Woman skirt, so I hiked it up, gave her neighbors a nice flash of white undies and climbed on up. I got in the back door and greeted the cats.
No key was apparent, and her cat was completely unhelpful in locating it, so I headed back to Owl who was sitting patiently in her stroller. Seriously, my kid has the patience of a saint. I had to precariously jump down off the deck, thinking all the while that I was going to break or sprain my ankle, and my sister would come home to find me lying in her back yard freezing and in pain with Owl happily singing in her stroller, all snuggled into her nice, warm blankets. As we headed out the driveway, I told her we were on to Plan B, just as soon as I came up with it… By the time we got back home, I had mapped out in my head all the windows on the first floor that I’d left open a few inches. I thought if I could push the screen out of one of those windows, I’d be able to open the window and climb in, probably flashing my own neighbors some white underpants on the way. Might as well spread the scandal around.
I tried the living room window first because the screens on newer windows are often really easy to just pop out. Not these windows. It was not going to budge. We went around the other side of the house, and I contemplated the bathroom window, which is high on the wall and is over the top of the shower surround. Way too far to drop if I could have gotten up that high and managed to get the screen out. I moved on to the front window looking out into the dog yard. In order to get there, I had to get past the dog fence. I couldn’t get the post clips off from the outside to be able to open the fence. Being incredibly stubborn and not wanting to have to deal with getting the post back in place afterward if I pulled it up, I opted to get a rickety old step ladder out of the garage so I could go over the fence.
I placed the step ladder next to the fence, and climbed up, checking my balance at each tiny movement as the ladder behaved more like Jello than a ladder. I sat down on the top step, swung my legs over the fence, and dropped, hoping my feet (or any other part of me) would not land in a dog mine. I had no more luck with the old screen on the front window, and after multiple attempts interspersed with peek-a-boo to keep Owl amused, I abandoned that option. Now I was inside the dog fence, and Owl was outside it with the ladder. I was able to pull the post clips off the fence to open it up so I could get out.
I decided to put Owl back in the car so she wouldn’t get cold while I continued to strategize and scheme. I made another attempt at getting in the door. Maybe I could jimmy it with another key or pop a window pane out without breaking it, or use the knife trick to unlock one of the windows (I determined that this would not work even if I did have a knife). There was no way in, short of breaking a window. It was time to try to track down my sister, hoping I wasn’t pulling her away from some important engagement. I went to my neighbor’s house to borrow the phone. I had barely hung up after leaving a voice mail, when my sister rode in on her white horse (OK, she was driving her SUV) and rescued us.
By the time we got into the house, I was freezing cold, even more exhausted, extremely thankful that my daughter had been on the same side of the door with me when this happened and that my sister lives close by and is a nice person, and feeling like a complete dolt. My daughter was comfortably warm except for one hand she refused to keep inside the blankets and probably wondering why her mother was scaling decks and fences for fun after a long day. The dog who had stubbornly refused to unlock the door and let us in was extremely excited to see us finally on the same side of the door as she was.
The moral of this story is threefold. Always have a superhero costume handy when faced with your own stupidity. Always keep a spare key where you can access it when you foolishly close the door without checking whether it’s locked first. And, finally, always share stories of your idiocy with others so they can have a good laugh at your expense.