December 26, 2018
I was overdrawn on my account in part because there is no mail delivery in my town. All 4,000 residents of Kings Beach, California, have to get a P.O. box if they want to receive mail. I didn’t know this when I moved here two weeks ago, from another rural town where I also needed a P.O. box (so, yes, I suppose I should have known). The check I should have received and deposited by now was returned to my client, who is out of the office until January 3rd. It’s not a complete emergency, my husband should get paid today or tomorrow and in the meantime me and the kids just won’t leave the house.
7:00am, my six-year-old came upstairs. “I’ve been up for a while, but I snuck the iPad to watch YouTube,” he told me. “That’s fine,” I said.
“Can I watch more YouTube?”
He disappeared again. By 8:30am, I had finally finished The Work. It didn’t actually take me three hours, but that’s how long I’d been working on it. I checked email just to make sure I hadn’t missed anything; only two things I needed to reply to urgently.
Six-year-old came back and started playing with his new Hot Wheels track and giving me the replay for every jump, which I had to look up and acknowledge or he’d start doing the “Mom, mom, mom” thing. Then he got on the computer and started asking me to buy him stuff. “We don’t have any money right now, we spent it all on Christmas, so no.” “It’s only $11.99” he said of the computer game he wants. “I have negative dollars in my bank account, so seriously no.” I’ve been in a phase where I resent my parents for not telling me more about how money really works when I was young.
Foiled at the computer, he asked if he could squirt chocolate sauce directly into his mouth. I told him he had to wait until I could do it for him. Both kids were still wearing the red Christmas-themed PJs they’d put on the day before yesterday. They were dressed like Santa’s elves.
Another reason I’m often short on cash is because I started a small business earlier this year and I always pay everyone on time or early. So if you work for or with me and are dependent either on me paying you or me being able to do some sort of work for you, don’t worry, the only way I’d let you down is if I died. Which is not entirely out of the realm of possibility.
By about 10:00, I decided I really needed to take the trash out to the Bear Box, which is a huge luxury because the last two places we lived in did not have bear boxes and we had to wake up at the crack of dawn to get the trash out in time because if you leave trash unprotected out in front of your house, a bear will come and make a huge mess of it. Half the time we’d miss the trash guys and wind up with a mountain of garbage in the garage that we would eventually take to the dump. The trash bag was too full so it ripped coming out of the trash can. I walked away and decided I’d just deal with it later. Then I remembered about the chocolate sauce. “Archie! Come get chocolate sauce in your mouth,” I yelled. I squirted about a teaspoon in there and he agreed with me that chocolate sauce by itself is sort of gross and cough syrup-y.
I got the Christmas-themed trash bag that my very organized mother packed wrapped presents in and shipped to us last week (FedEx and UPS deliver here, just not the USPS). I got one piece of trash in the bag before the almost-three-year-old told me he needed to pee. He can’t do it on his own yet. I put a Mickey-themed padded seat on the toilet, and he sat to pee and I wondered for the 1000th time why we ever started encouraging men to pee standing up. I hugged him while he was peeing because he was just so innocent and cute sitting there with his chubby little thighs. He hugged me back and patted the top of my head and then giggled, “don’t eat my wee man, mom!”
I tried to get him to wear underwear but he demanded a “nappy” (my husband is from Scotland). I gave in because I didn’t have the energy to argue, and at least that way I wouldn’t be cleaning pee or poop off the floor. As I was putting the nappy on him, the six-year-old, without turning his attention from the iPad, handed me his half-eaten apple, announcing, “I’m done with this.”
I had left my phone at a friend’s house a couple days earlier and hadn’t been able to go get it, so when I got back upstairs I took a look at social media on my laptop. An unattributed quote from my book about motherhood in the U.S. was up to 160,000 likes, including Reese Witherspoon and who knows what other famous people.
Which was annoying, but probably social media likes don’t translate to book sales anyway, and even if they did, it would need to be more like a million before I’d see a check, so I tried to let it go, and returned to the Christmas-themed trash bag.
The six-year-old complained, “I thought we were gonna hang out!” By which he meant, “join worlds in MineCraft.” It’s on the list of things he wrote out for me to do today. But it was written next to “give mom lots of hugs” so I couldn’t really complain.
A friend offered to take him bowling tonight, which put me in a bind: he wanted to go and I wanted him to go, too, but there was the money thing. I had just gotten a payment in, but it was in the account I’d lost the debit card for. I’ve requested a replacement card twice and it’s never shown up, because of the damn rural mail problem. My personal account was overdrawn by $480 and the account I couldn’t access had $500 in it. Should I transfer it, and get $20 out to send with the kid bowling?
My day hung in the balance of my husband’s boss paying him back for business expenses he’d fronted. The boss seems nice enough, but he’s a rich kid who does not understand why people might not want to front the costs of his business from their personal bank accounts, and who also doesn’t get why having to wait to be reimbursed for those expenses would ever be a big deal. My husband kept not texting me back about the likelihood of that money coming in.
A couple hours later we figured out a way for him to withdraw cash on the way home, so that by the time my son’s friend’s mom dropped him off we could give her money.
Around noon I realized that I’d forgotten to feed the dogs, who were lying patiently next to their bowls. Actually it was the younger one who told me, “Mom, I think the dogs need some food.” He likes to help, adding tiny toddler handfuls of kibble to their bowls.
I had to break it to the six-year-old that I didn’t have my phone so we couldn’t join worlds. I made up for it with more YouTube and chocolate cake and hugs. Just before it was time to leave for bowling, the two-year-old fell asleep on the couch with no pants. I tried to gracefully take him from the couch to the car but accidentally hit his head with my purse and woke him up, so he cried for the first ten minutes of the trip.
On the way, I remembered a “life hack”: for some reason 7-11 ATMs will totally let you withdraw cash when your bank account is overdrawn (related: drive-through bank ATMs will usually let you deposit checks that you’ve already mobile deposited, which is technically fraud but I like to think of it as a “loan”). So we stopped at the 7-11 in Incline Village, a town so loaded with billionaires it’s sorta hard to believe they even have a 7-11, and I withdrew $40. Then I took the older kid to his pal’s French lesson. I had to leave the little one in the car, which is a tricky situation in a snowy town because I needed to leave it running, with the heat on, which meant I couldn’t lock it, and also I didn’t want to roll the windows down too much because he was still naked from the waist down. So, as I was trying to find this place and not fall on the ice or let the six-year-old fall, I was worried that either some perv would drive off in my car with my half-naked toddler in the back, or some uptight rich lady would call child protective services on me. Neither happened, we just drove home fast so I could squeeze in an hour’s worth of work while the little one ate chocolate cake and the dog licked his butt.