The Best Literary Writing About Mothers and Motherhood
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Going Out Of Town by Sarah M. Wells

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Dear Kindergarten Teacher,

I am going out of town this week. My husband and Henry are coming with me because Henry is still nursing and can’t be away from me for more than twelve hours or else my milk will dry up and then he’ll be forced to drink water all the time because he won’t take a bottle.

We’re staying in a hotel with a monstrous bed, one with heaven stuffed between the sheets and twenty pillows to support every limb, enough bed for the two of us to twist around in and then sleep like no one else is there. The TV screen is flat, large, and mounted on the wall at precisely the right distance from the bed. None of that matters, because Henry goes to sleep at 8:00 p.m. My husband will try to convince Henry that the metallic white crib on wheels is just like the solid oak crib at home. He will wait in the dark until Henry falls asleep, because we’ve trained him to sleep in a pitch-black room with a fan on. Meanwhile, I’ll be in a cocktail dress at an evening reception laughing, eating bacon-wrapped scallops and drinking a complimentary drink in a triangle-shaped glass, all the time worrying about my husband in the dark, my baby in the prison crib.

But I am sure we’ll have a good time, sure of it because every glass I drink is half-full, even the triangle shaped ones.

Anyway, we are leaving on Wednesday, and Wednesday is Lydia’s snack day. I’m sorry I can’t make green eggs and ham for Dr. Seuss Week. Instead, here’s a couple boxes of fruit snacks. My mom will be picking Lydia up after gymnastics, and Lydia won’t be at school the rest of the week.

Dear Miss L and Miss K,
This Wednesday, my son will be picked up by my mom. I’ll be sure to let her know that he needs to be picked up next to the church between 11:30 and 11:40 a.m., and if she’s at all late (even two minutes, like I was last week), she’ll need to park the car and go inside to sign him out. She’ll also have the manila sign with his name on it so that you know she’s there to pick him up and isn’t some stranger trying to steal him.

Dear Pet Sitter,
Thank you for watching Beans. He’s a good boy, except for when he digs in the yard and chews the baby’s toys, diapers, throw pillows, stuffed animals, dirty underwear, and plastic letters on the fridge. Please lock him in the crate when you leave. We need you to come once Wednesday and three times a day through Saturday, and then twice Sunday, so that’s twelve, plus 24 times three, plus 16… why don’t you call me with a price and I’ll leave a check on the counter.

Dear Post Office,
Please hold our mail until Monday.

Dear Newspaper,
Please stop the paper until Monday.

Dear Mom and Dad,
Thanks for staying with the kids! Elvis needs to be dropped off at school between 8:45 and 9 a.m. He needs to be picked up between 11:30 and 11:40 a.m. at the side door. They charge extra if you pick him up late, but if you are late, just go on in the side door. You’ll have to ring the bell.
If Beans gets on your nerves, send him outside or put him in the crate. If you leave anything within his reach, he’s likely to chew on it, so watch out for food/clothes/blankets/pillows/toys/coats.
Here is a medical release form in case the kids get sick, break their arms wrestling in the living room, break their wrists falling off of the mattress we keep telling them not to jump on, or break their legs falling down the stairs we keep telling them not to play on. If anything unspeakable happens to us, everything you need (Social Security numbers, birth certificates) is in the filing cabinet.
The sink in the upstairs bathroom doesn’t drain so I wouldn’t use it if I were you. The trash can between the fridge and the oven is for recycling; the other one has a handy lock on it. Beans will get into the trash if it isn’t shut, so beware.

Please don’t lock the back door when you go; the pet sitter doesn’t have a key to get in. Don’t tell the burglars.


 

Sarah WellsSarah M. Wells is the author of Pruning Burning Bushes (2012) and of a chapbook, Acquiesce (2009). Essays and poems by Wells have appeared in Ascent, Literary Mama, New Ohio Review, Nimrod, Poetry East, Puerto del Sol, River Teeth, and elsewhere. Her essay in Ascent was listed as a notable essay in Best American Essays 2012. Wells is the Administrative Director of the Ashland University MFA Program and Managing Editor for theAshland Poetry Press and River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative. www.sarahmwells.com. 

 

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