Right after Ellis was born, Dave and I had a fight. I wanted to buy a nightlight and Dave insisted that we didn’t need to. He had one, somewhere tucked away. He just had to find it. I was sick of banging my thigh on the bed in the middle of the night and figured our budget could handle the $10 it would require to save my post-partum thigh from late-night bruisings. But he insisted we shouldn’t spend money frivolously when we had a child. We were parents now. We needed to save.
So, I waited. Not because I was a good wife, or patient, but because I kept forgetting to buy a nightlight every time I went to the store. Finally, one evening, Dave disappeared into the basement and appeared 20 minutes later, triumphantly bearing a small plastic circle. “I’ve had this thing forever,” he said, which in Midwesternease is high praise.
I plugged it in. And that night, when I got up for the 2am feeding, I almost had a seizure. The plastic orb was blinking like the neon lights in a horror movie.
“The hell!” I said and yanked the nightlight out and threw it into the trash.
The next morning, I went to Target, bought a nightlight (only $ 6.99) and learned to stop jacking my thigh on the bed. I chalked that crazy moment up to sleep-deprivation and I wouldn’t have even remembered the argument, except that this week, at my mother-in-law’s, I got up in the middle of the night to use the restroom.
I snuck down the hall, groping furniture, and caressing the wall, too afraid to turn on the lights because I didn’t have pants on. When I opened the bathroom door, the room was lit with a flickering orange strob light. The same broken nightlight.
“Oh hell no,” I mumbled turning on the lights.
Maybe I don’t understand because I lived most of my formative years in Texas and my mom never washed plastic bags or reused disposable forks. Maybe it’s because I don’t hold onto things. I don’t see in a piece of plastic a heritage and home, something worth holding on to. Or maybe it’s because I give up too early. It could be a character flaw or a cultural thing. I don’t really know.
But I think the bottom line is, no matter how many pans of tater tot hot dish I make, I’m just a Midwestern poseur.