I saw a young mother with a new baby in the frame store, and stopped to admire both.
"I've been so nostalgic lately for a baby in the house!" I told the mom. "Mine seem like they're all grown up already!"
The mom, sensing my longing, said, "Would you like to hold her?" I was beaming as I took the baby in my arms.
"You know, they say you're done having kids when you can hold someone else's baby, and give her back happily," I remarked. "I've never quite felt that part, the giving-back-happily part. That's why I've always wished I could have another. And I would, if I'd started sooner."
"I'm sure you still have time. I mean, you don't look THAT old!" the new mom said, jokingly. We both chuckled. I then flashed on a scene from the previous week when my daughter was at day camp, and remembered that yes, I am that old.
I was waiting for my son's new bed to be delivered, and a friend had offered to pick up my girl at 4 p.m. from the bus drop-off point, a grocery store parking lot. At 4:20 I realized they still were not back. I started thinking -- historically a bad move made worse with menopause looming -- and suddenly thought, Oh no! I told my friend that the husband would be home! That means she thinks I'm picking up Sophie! And that means I just left my eight-year-old daughter alone in a supermarket parking lot!
I grabbed my car key and raced out the door, barefoot, trying as I drove not to imagine my girl standing there, alone and scared, wondering where her mommy is. I picked up my cell phone and cursed myself for not grabbing my reading glasses, and remembered that I forgot to charge my hands-free device. I envisioned getting stopped with cell phone to ear, driving barefoot with no glasses, no ID, and no purse, and oh, by the way, I left my young daughter unattended in a parking lot. The police would need a flow chart to sort it out.
I pulled over and dialed my friend's cell phone, which she always answers. No answer. I left an incoherent message about fading memory and menopause and oh yes, do you have the girls? A few moments later the phone made a strange beeping noise. I threw it, thinking maybe it was going to explode because that's how my day was going, and when it came to rest on the passenger seat, I saw some words on the screen. And I thought, Hey! I have texting? Who knew?
What I didn't have, however, were my reading glasses. Knowing that it had to be from my friend, as the chances of my first-ever text coming mere moments after leaving her a frantic message were remote even in my life, I began the game. I held the phone out the window, lifted it up against the sky, put it directly underneath the overhead light. No luck; my arms simply weren't long enough. I finally positioned it on the dashboard in just the right spot and contorted myself into a position that allowed me to read the two key words: "have girls."
I breathed a sigh of relief, did a U-turn, and went home. When my friend pulled in the driveway, I was standing there crying.
"What's the matter with you?" she asked. "I told you I would get the girls. My Bluetooth wasn't working so I texted you." It all made perfect sense, now.
And as I thought about the whole event, I don't know what disturbed me more - forgetting my child, forgetting whether or not I actually forgot my child, not knowing how to use simple technology, or not being able to see the simple technology that I didn't know how to use. Throw a hot flash in the mix and life would be complete.
I was recalling this as I stood in the frame shop holding the tiny baby, so fragile, so innocent, so dependent on her mother for every one of life's needs, and suddenly I felt a strange new sensation.
"Ooh, look at the time"! I said happily. "Here's your baby! Bye-bye!"
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