I can’t do it. I can’t do this whole parenting thing. Thus far, I’ve been trying to take my pregnancy in stride and not worry too much about the future. No one is truly ready to be a parent, after all, but they figure it out and so will I. But this week, I broke down crying at the mall ... and then again at my cell phone provider. And if that’s not a big, flashing sign from the universe that I’m not mature enough to handle the responsibilities of adulthood, I don’t know what is.
A little backstory: I’ve had a bad cold for a few days now. Coughing, aching, head pounding … you know, general seasonal ickiness. Pregnancy makes these symptoms twice as fun, because — although my provider gave me a decent list of cold medications I’m allowed to take — all the really good stuff is off-limits. On top of this, my phone died on Sunday. I know that’s a major first-world problem, but c’mon … our phones are so critical these days. My life is on that thing. Photos, phone numbers, appointments, important emails. It’s like doing all your day-to-day tasks with one hand behind your back.
On Tuesday afternoon, I decided I’d had enough. I scraped myself off the couch and drove to the mall so the experts at a certain well-known company could fix my phone. Have you ever been to one of these tech stores? I think it’s what hell must be like. The lights are too bright, the music is too loud, there are too many people crammed in too small a space. After two agonizing hours of sitting and waiting and sneezing in a rock-hard, cast-off IKEA chair, I finally got one-on-one time with a technician at the help desk … who promptly declared my phone DOA. Here’s where the pregnancy rage began welling up inside me.
“I am sick. I am pregnant. And you’re telling me not one of the forty employees in this store could have told me that two hours ago?! Charlotte smash!” And then I went on a Godzilla-like rampage, coughing phlegm on everyone in the store while stomping all the shiny gadgets I could get my feet on.
In my head, it was a glorious riot of destruction. In real life, I thanked the man for his time through clenched teeth and — tears beginning to well in my eyes — walked out with my broken phone clutched to my chest.
For one glittering, hopeful moment, I thought maybe my cell phone provider would be better. There was a line out the door, but a nice manager pulled me aside (pregnancy for the win) and took my name and told me to have a seat.
“How long is it going to be?’ I asked him, gratefully hefting myself onto a cushioned bench along the wall.
“About 45 minutes,” he responded casually. And suddenly they were back. The hot, angry, exhausted tears I fought back at the tech store made a very real appearance. The manager squirmed visibly at this womanly display of emotion.
“Please,” I said, my voice cracking, “I just waited two hours at the unnamed-shiny-tech store. I’m pregnant, I don’t feel well, I just need someone to check my account and tell me how much a new phone would be. Please.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am.” And he just walked away. So, I did the only thing that made sense at the time. I sat there and I cried. In public. Because I was tired and sore and upset and completely at the mercy of the underpaid retail workers who were conspicuously avoiding my gaze. I waited the 45 minutes. I listened with one ear while the incredibly uncomfortable employee explained why a new phone would cost twice as much as I’d predicted. I shuffled to my car, broken phone still in-hand, utterly defeated and incapable of argument. And do you know what was going through my head? I don’t even have a kid yet. I tried to imagine the whole afternoon playing out again, but with a screaming infant in my arms.
And that’s when the quiet, frustrated tears turned into a real ugly, mascara-ruining, river-of-snot cry (in my car, I do have some dignity left). This kid can’t ever come out. I’m just going to be pregnant forever. Because I’m fairly certain that, had a child been involved, I would have happily sold it to a friendly looking stranger in the mall. Or, more likely, I never would have made it to the mall in the first place. I would be at home, exhausted, sobbing with a broken phone in one hand and an inconsolable newborn in the other.
Someone asked me a few weeks ago if I was scared of the physical pain that awaits me in childbirth. And I told her with confidence that I’m not. I’m tough. I’m resilient. I’ll deal with it when the time comes. But I’m scared beyond all reason of moments like Tuesday. I’m terrified that parenting will be endless parade of Tuesdays, eighteen-plus years on the brink of an emotional breakdown. Forget this whole clown thing, folks, that’s the really scary stuff.