Aspen Princess: Anatomy of a meltdown
The Aspen Princess
I honestly don’t even know where to begin.
Do I start with how I was robbed on the street in Miami and my purse was stolen with my laptop in it so I am now typing this column on my old computer, the one with a little plastic nub where the letter “R” key fell off so I get a blister on the tip of my finger?
Or a compelling opener might be an excerpt from a dinner conversation at the Naples Beach Hotel where everyone in my crazy extended family was comparing what dosage Zoloft they’re on.
Do I write about what it was like to travel with a toddler who was getting over the flu, and how, even though he was cleared to travel by his pediatrician, puked all over me, himself, his car seat, and his grandparents the night before we left? Or how I got, like, four minutes of sleep before my 5 a.m. wake-up call because I was up all night worrying, wondering if I should travel with him?
Maybe I could explain how, even on a good day, traveling with a 400-pound diaper bag o’ tricks — that bottomless pit of diapers, wipes, sippy cups, food pouches, teething wafers, books, toys, snacks and whatever other crap modern life has done to make our lives so much more — pushed me to the brink? Or I could talk about when he’d drop something on the floor of the plane for the 500th time and I had to become a contortionist just so I could reach the one thing that would keep us both sane all while feeling like I was going to bust an organ.
I also could write about the award-winning tantrum the babe had the night of our arrival when he threw his head back so violently while sitting in my lap that the back of his noggin left a nice welt on my cheekbone.
That’s when I lost it.
Yes, after 15 months of baby bliss I had my first official, bona fide meltdown. Talk about a slap in the face — my sweet little angel had basically cold-cocked me.
I could write about what it’s like to drive in a car in a new city with my parents, who absolutely refuse to trust GPS unless it’s the one in their own car, as if their GPS was an old friend they could rely on and any other GPS was not to be trusted.
I explained to them, for the 50th time, that our iPhones can do the same thing as the GPS in their beloved Mazda CX-5. Soon everyone in the car had their iPhones programmed with the address so each time there was a direction we’d hear it multiple times, like an echo. “In half a mile, merge left onto Interstate 75 East … In half a mile … In half a mile …”
Still, my mother insisted the GPS was wrong. “She’s confused,” she’d chime in from the back seat. “She doesn’t understand.” I have no idea why she thought she knew better, considering she’d never been to Naples in her entire life.
I tried to explain that “she” is actually a computer and in fact does know exactly where we’re going and how to get there and how long it will take. But Lindarose wasn’t buying it. Every time the GPS dictated a direction she’d say, “OK, honey,” in this really patronizing tone dripping in sarcasm as if the GPS was a little old lady suffering from dementia and we were all just humoring her.
It didn’t help matters when we rushed out to buy diapers and I plugged in the wrong street address on the way back and we ended up on Mahogany Lane (which is in the only trailer park in all of Naples) instead of Mahogany Run Lane, which is in the fancy-pants golf resort where we were staying.
I could write about what it’s like to travel with my parents, who are not only retired from working, but also anything that takes any work in general, like all the rigmarole involved with caring for a toddler. That meant I was the one loading and unloading the baby and the 500 pounds of other crap that this tiny little person somehow requires. It seemed like I was always red-faced and sweating, my clothes wrinkled and disheveled, on the brink of pulling my frizzy humidity hair out and leaving it in heaps on the pavement like dryer lint screaming, “Help me!”
I could talk about how it’s taken me this long to realize that I don’t need high heels or nice outfits because I am so catatonic by the time I finally get my little monster to bed that I no longer care if I have drool and crusted baby food all over my shirt sleeves and would rather stick a needle in my eye than put on uncomfortable shoes or a shirt that requires a bra.
I could write about the Airbnb my brother and I rented in Miami that was supposed to be all hip and eclectic, when in reality it was a dump in a neighborhood where we were robbed on the street in broad daylight.
Or I could write about how one of my favorite things about being a mother is sharing my baby with my family. How despite it all, it’s one the most joyful experience of my life. I could talk about how my brother is the most loving uncle my baby boy could ever ask for. Or how my cousin Leslee showered the babe with an ocean love that came pouring out of her oversized heart.
I also might mention how the baby was oblivious to it all, happy to play in the sand and kick his feet in the sea and to grace us all with the song of his laughter.
The Princess is getting a serious blister on her “R” finger. Email your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Certainly there is no replacing the voice Paul Andersen brought to the Times’ op-ed pages. For the next year, though, we’re going to use the Monday spot to bring some of the voices of our newsroom to these pages.