Scientists state that shortly after giving birth, female polar bears will go out of their way to avoid male polar bears. The reason, they say, is that the females fear the males will attack their offspring and kill them. Well I know better. The real reason why female polar bears avoid male polar bears after giving birth is because the female will kill the male for royally screwing up her life.
Human females go through the same thing, I think, and here’s why I say that.
On Monday, I had a long frustrating morning. Sam had been up all night the past three nights in a row, and I was dead tired. Her recent growth spurt combined with her lactose overload problems meant I was nursing her non-stop and neither of us was getting any sleep. The problem wasn’t that she wanted to nurse so frequently, but that she wasn’t sleeping at all between feedings. The gas caused by the lactose overload simply made her too uncomfortable and the overload was getting worse because she was feeding so much and taking in that much extra lactose, making her even more gassy and miserable. After her third watery green poop Sunday night, I decided it was time to call the pediatrician and ask if I could give Sam some Lactaid. When I called the next morning, a nurse told me the pediatrician was out of the office at the moment. Could she call me back with the answer?
Sure, I said. If I’m not in, just leave a message on the answering machine.
Then I remembered our answering machine was dead.
You see, my husband the genius had set up a program on one of our computers to allow it to answer the phone. For some reason, the program had quit working last week and he couldn’t fix it. So for the last ten days or so, I’d been relying on caller ID to let me know who called and who I should call back. Michael, meanwhile, had started doing some serious comparison shopping to get the best possible deal on a new combination wireless phone and answering machine that also scrubs toilets in its spare time. I kid you not.
Well, if you’ve ever had to call the doctor’s office with a question, you know you don’t want to have to call back for the answer because that devolves into a never-ending game of phone tag. You call with your question. The doctor’s office calls back with the answer while you’re sitting on the toilet. If you don’t have an answering machine, they have no way to leave a message, so you have to call them back, only to discover that the person who has the answer to your question has just stepped out to go to the toilet himself and can he call you back? This leads to you waiting by the phone for two hours with a cranky preschooler yanking on your arm and asking, “Can we go to the playground NOW?” In an effort to keep your arm attached to your shoulder, you give in and head to the playground. Five minutes after you leave, the doctor’s office calls back. Again, no answering machine equals no message so you’ll just have to call them back when you get in. And so on, and so on, and so on.
So I’m standing there, looking at spending an entire day by the phone waiting for a simple answer to my question while Cassie goes into hysterics because we can’t go out to play. And no, I can’t just call back and leave my cell phone number because one of the places we were supposed to go is the YMCA and I’m not supposed to leave the cell phone on during yoga class. It kind of disrupts the mood, you know? Nor can I rely on my cell phone voice mail because we’re really cheap, see, so the voice mail only records that someone called, just like our caller ID at home.
Fortunately, we did have another answering machine, one that didn’t require a computer to work. All I needed to set it up was the right AC adapter and all my problems would be solved.
Naturally, I had no idea where the AC adapter was.
I called Michael to ask. He said it was in the top right drawer of his desk. I went to look. It wasn’t there. Having been properly trained by my mother to find things without having to ask 50 million questions, I went through all the drawers of Michael’s desk. Then I went through my desk, both office closets, a box of spare computer parts, and the desk downstairs in our foyer. No AC adapter to be found.
I had just wasted half an hour trying to find the adapter and I was starting to get a little aggravated. I needed to get out the door if I was going to make it to yoga class. I needed to go to that class, because it yoga reduces stress and at that moment I had enough stress coursing through me to give a bull elephant a fatal heart attack. I called Michael back to ask where the adapter might be, since it wasn’t in his desk. On the other end of the line, I heard a lot of head scratching.
Michael: “Um, did you check the left-hand drawer of my desk?”
Me: “Yes, I went through your entire desk and the rest of the office too. I didn’t see an adapter.”
Michael: “Hmmmm. I don’t know where it might be then.”
Cassie begins tugging on my arm: “Mommy, can we go to the Y now? I want to go to the Y.”
Me: “Michael, I need that adapter. Where is it?”
Michael: “It could be in the box of spare computer parts…”
Me: “I already checked. It’s not there.”
Cassie, still tugging on my arm: “Mommy, I want to go to the Y now!”
Me: “Michael, I really need that adapter.”
Michael: “Honey, I honestly don’t know where it is.”
Cassie begins yanking harder. I feel my arm slip out of the socket of my shoulder: “I want to go to the Y! I want to go to the Y!”
Me, looking at the clock and realizing there’s no way in hell I’ll make it to the Y in time for yoga class: “Look, I can’t spend all day sitting around the house waiting for a phone call. I’m going to head out to Super K-Mart and buy a new answering machine.”
Michael: “No, don’t do that. I’m still looking into getting a new answering machine with wireless phones. I just haven’t figured out which one we’re getting yet. I’ll probably order it next week.”
Cassie, who has now completely pulled my arm out of its socket and is beating me over the head with it: “I want to go the Y! I want to go the Y! I want to go the Y!”
Me: “Michael, getting an answering machine next week doesn’t help me now. I have to get out of the house!”
At this point, the baby wakes up and starts to wail. Cassie continues to pitch a fit because we still haven’t headed out the door. I’m at the end of my rope.
Michael: “Fine. I’ll come home and look for the adapter myself.”
I hear the note of exasperation in Michael’s voice and suddenly I see myself standing by the front door with a chainsaw in one hand and a lawn and garden bag in the other, just waiting for him to come home. I envision the slaughter that follows the moment he enters the house. Then I hear the phone call I make to my best friend Mary who has promised that on the day I finally snap she will help me stuff the body into the lawn and garden bag and then hide the whole mess in our backyard. Once we finish with Michael, we go back to her place and take care of her husband John. Then we pack up the kids and move out to Seattle where we use the insurance money to buy a nice big house and live happily ever after, sans husbands, for the rest of our lives. Maybe we even marry each other because we both know we’ll never put up with another man again as long as we live.
Yes folks, I was all ready to go through with this little fantasy when my inner polar bear raised its head and I thought better of it.
Me: “No honey, don’t come home. I’ll figure something out.”
What I figured out was that there was no way in hell I was going to let Michael come home so I could kill him. I mean, aside from the fact that I would have to mop the floors again to clean up the mess, I just couldn’t imagine how I would explain his death to the kids. “I’m sorry girls, but Mommy had to kill Daddy. He lost the adapter to the answering machine.” Just doesn’t cut it, does it?
So I said screw the answering machine and I went to the Y to work off some stress. I dropped Cassie and Sam off at the gym nursery and hit the cardio machines where I hammered away at the stair climber until I finally felt that I could go home and not commit a homicide. Michael was there when we got back. He had come home to make lunch and found the adapter for me too. The answering machine was working and the doctor didn’t call until two hours later when I was there to pick up the phone myself. Everything worked out just fine and I didn’t have to kill anybody. All thanks to the polar bear.