Meredith Carroll: Meredith Pro Tem
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado
Since my daughter was born my appreciation for dairy farmers and, chiefly, their cattle, has deepened considerably. But more than that, becoming a mom has given my inner Martha Stewart the opportunity to blossom like a pink peony bush planted in the dewy grass on the lawn of a house on the Cape on a balmy morning in early summer.
Okay. To be fair, a little Martha was probably lurking inside of me for quite some time before the baby was born. But my very own Everyday Living certainly peaked ” and hasn’t shown signs that it will budge an inch ” the day I found out I was to reproduce.
Earlier this year my mom sent me the framed Disney prints ” Tinker Bell, Mary Poppins, Snow White et al. ” that hung in my room when I was a little girl so that I could hang them in my little girl’s room. First I decided to paint the frames the same color as inside the baby’s closet (which is a different, yet complimentary, color to the one on her bedroom walls). Then it was on to step two.
“Where should I hang them,” I asked my mom, an interior decorator and Renaissance woman. I faxed her a sketch of the room drawn to scale so she could offer insight into where the prints’ sentimentality and sweetness would be most appreciated by a newborn baby.
“I can’t tell without being in the room,” she said. “Wait until I come out there. We’ll hang them then.”
I panicked. And whined. “But I want the room to be all set before she’s born.”
“The baby probably won’t care that there’s nothing on the walls when she gets home from the hospital. However, if her empty walls do, in fact, affect her, I will gladly pay her therapy bills until which time she realizes that she inherited her crazy from you.”
“That’s not funny,” I cried. “Everything has to be perfect when she gets here. I’ll know the difference if it’s not!”
She sighed and hung up the phone.
I bought a scrapbook about five months before giving birth and promptly started making notes and collecting. Everything. Like the date I first felt her kick and what foods I craved at that moment. I saved every sonogram picture that was taken over nine months (about 60 of them with varying clarity). I also had my husband take dozens of pictures of me pregnant so I could pick one perfect image to go in the scrapbook ” one that said “doting mother-to-be” and “don’t hate me because I’m beautiful” concurrently. The only other catch was also having the photo make me look obviously pregnant and yet stunningly slim at the same time. (My husband wisely said each shot made me look anorexic. Which is clearly why I married him.)
My dad was assigned the task of saving The New York Times from the day the baby born so the front page could go in the scrapbook. After all, the baby just might want to know that the weekend she was born was also the same time as the opening ceremony of the Olympics as well as when John Edwards admitted to an extramarital affair (as long as we don’t have to explain anything about the latter to her until she’s 40). Nothing was off limits, really, if it benefited the scrapbook. Except for the Clearblue Easy stick that revealed the pregnancy in the first place. Some things just aren’t meant to be that sacred.
On Sunday we took the baby to pick out her first pumpkin. She wore her cutest (and only) pumpkin hat and my husband was once again under strict orders to take the perfect picture. It was essential that he capture the twinkle in her eye while at the same time ensuring there were plenty of pumpkins in the background so that the essence of the Halloween season would be tangible.
The only problem was that my daughter was unwilling to stay awake for her “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” moment. Now I know how Martha Stewart ” the original and ultimate wedding magnate ” must have felt when her daughter tied the knot in a grey flannel suit in a judge’s chambers and her reception afterwards included all of five people. Who knew a two-and-a-half-month-old baby could also be so spiteful.
Then earlier this week I decided to get a molding of the baby’s hand and footprints as a birthday present to my husband to memorialize her tinyness. The molding instructions suggested it would be easiest to do when the baby was sleeping.
However, the stink eye the baby gave me during each of my five attempts to mush her hand and foot into the soft, non-toxic substance told me there was no easiest time to mush her hand and foot into anything.
Someday, though, hopefully she’ll understand the method to my madness. If not, at least my mom has offered to pay for the therapist. Maybe Martha’s daughter can recommend a good one.
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Though many are fatigued from the pandemic, rules for health and safety must be followed even more closely as winter approaches.