A Mother’s Confession: A SONG WITH FOOTNOTES

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hola comrades!
welcome to my latest Patreon Thing! this is Thing #10 (the Bowie “strung out” tribute was #9) and yes, things are just getting weirder and more awesome. good evening. it’s february 25th, 2016.

everything will become clear once you listen/read.

short story: jason and i challenged each other to write 11 songs last week in seattle, i wrote one, and the 
next day, jason recorded it in his houseboat. (he also played accordion and…some other stuff. just listen.)

fact, and every writer will back me up, short things are harder to write than long things.

motherhood leaves me little time to edit, so the song is almost 11 minutes. i make no apologies.

LISTENING/READING RECOMMENDATIONS:

listen FIRST, then read!

 the footnotes are an integral part of the song. this is a GESAMTKUNSTWERK, folks, even though it only has a few chords, you got me?

i highly recommend printing this out, or – if you must, even though i cringe when neil does it – taking your iPad/phone into the bath (but please, airplane mode, people!) and reading while the song plays. i also recommend a glass of wine (or a nice chamomile tea) with your bath, a hanky, and some lavender epsom salts (excellent for overall body relaxation).

if you are a parent and would like to add your own confession in the comments, i would feel less lonely. everybody else would, too.

i look forward to coming back here tomorrow and reading.

i can’t say it enough, the patreon is making my recent fuck-it-all-and-make-it-and-put-it-out approach to music possible. if you want to support more thing-making, please join (for as little patronage as $1/thing) the beautiful and growing patreon community at https://www.patreon.com/amandapalmer.

 

“A MOTHER’S CONFESSION” (the lyrics)


our son is four months old1 his name is anthony or ash for short2
and he’s too small to do things by himself3
we were in L.A. over christmas in a rental and we jury-rigged4 a place
to change his diapers on a shelf5

i was peeing in the bathroom and had left him for a second6
cause i thought he couldn’t move and he was safe7
as i came out i saw him falling in slow motion to the floor8
it was probably the worst moment9 of my life

and then i accidentally stole a thing of chapstick10 from the safeway11
i didn’t see it ’til i got out to the car12
i would have usually returned it13 but i was overwhelmed14
and late15 to take the baby to my cousins16 which was far away17

in my defense i’d bought like $8718 worth of groceries
and the chapstick was a $1.9919
i know it wasn’t the right thing to use20
to use my newborn21 child as an excuse
but it felt like a real reason at the time22

and as i pulled out of the parking lot i cried23
and as i pulled onto the highway i said “right….
at least the baby didn’t die…right?
at least the baby didn’t die….”24

and then we went to sarasota25
to see neil’s cousin helen
for her birthday she just turned ninety-nine26
we were also there for sidney
who was ninety-four two days before
but he was sick27 so mostly it was ash and helen time28

she survived the warsaw ghetto29
and she always30 says “i love you”
when she sees you ’cause she knows you never know
she’d worked for months while i was pregnant
on a gorgeous handmade blanket31
her almost-hundred-year-old hands crocheting every row

i’d been emailing her pictures32 of the baby and the blanket
every day since she had sent it in the mail
but they were of one that someone else had knitted33 34
she was really nice about it
then i went and shoplifted a pair of stupid sunglasses
from goodwill35 (they were on my head36
i’d tried them on and left them there)
but that’s not really bad compared to
when we left the baby in the car37.

at least he wasn’t in there very long.
…and not directly in the sun.
and thank god no-one walking by happened to notice what we’d done.
i’m even scared to put these lyrics in a song.

but
everything is relative38 and everyone’s related39
i can’t do that much right now
but take care of this baby40
i figure everything’s technically all right
if at least this baby doesn’t die.

(i’d also like his dad alive. so honey….careful when you drive41 42).

and then i took a plane43 to washington alone44
so we could visit jason webley who’s his godfather45
he’s playing the accordion46
i couldn’t wait to see him and share tales of my disasters
over dinners in his houseboat when i saw i’d lost my passport47

so i got a rush appointment at the place where you replace them48
and i drove the baby in and on the way i got a speeding ticket49

when the cop came to the window i was shaking and i said i’m sorry50
but you couldn’t hear me that’s how loud the sound of screaming was
cause he was hungry and i think that i was speeding
’cause i panic when i hear him cry51
my god what kind of a mother am i52

and as i pulled out of the breakdown lane i cried
and as i pulled out on the highway i said “right.
at least the baby didn’t die. right?
at least the baby didn’t die.”

while i was waiting for my passport i was hungry so
i twittered for good coffee in the neighborhood53
and there i saw a woman who was sitting at the bar
and it was noon and she was drinking54
and she called across the diner at me “how old is your baby?”
and she smiled at us nursing
and she said she had a daughter who was grown
and then she paused
and said she also had a son55

and when i’d paid and was about to leave
i picked him up and crossed the room and touched her sleeve
i said “hey this baby wanted to say hi.”56
and she held him tight and she started to cry.57

and i’m sorry that this story’s gotten long
and that everybody’s crying in this song.58

and as i got back in the car i turned the radio and heater on
and sat there with the baby in the back.59
and they were talking about syria and climate change and ISIS
and the candidates’ positions on iraq60
i feel so useless in this universe
i know i could be doing worse
i’m trying hard to stay at peace61 inside
i know it’s hard to be a parent
but my flaws are so gigantic62
…i wonder if i should have had a child.63

and as i pulled out of the parking lot i cried
and as i pulled out on the highway i said

“right.

at least the baby didn’t die.
at least the baby didn’t die.
EVERYBODY64:
at least the baby didn’t die!! right?!
at least the baby didn’t die!!
(i may not make it to the passport place on time!65)
at least the baby didn’t die.
(and they might suspend my license for a while!!66)
at least the baby didn’t die.
(and i might get caught for retroactive theft!!67)
at least the baby didn’t die.
(and i might get turned into the DSS!68)

but at least the baby didn’t die69.”

 


 FOOTNOTES:

1 he was actually just about to turn five months when i wrote this song. he was born on september 16th, and this song was written on february 11th. so. yeah. saying five months felt not right but saying “almost five months” wouldn’t fit and to be honest about it i feel like the song is better if the baby is smaller. i don’t know why i thought that. i think maybe it makes me feel less guilty.

2 his name is Anthony David Karl Gaiman. i’d always thought i’d name a boy after anthony, because of how much anthony meant to me in my life, but only if he was dead. and when i was pregnant, anthony was sick but not dead and not necessarily dying. and you don’t name a baby after a not-necessarily dying person. that’s just bad luck. so neil and i talked about the name for a while after we found out he was going to be a boy, and at first neil wanted to name him damon. i mean: damon gaiman. i thought it was hilarious and neil did too but all of neil’s older kids were like NOOOOOO so that idea was cut short by family veto. and then we talked about ash one day walking around walden pond…because it just floated through the air and sounded cool…and we kept on walking and trying out different forms of ash with every letter of the alphabet put in front (bash? kinda violent. cash? too country. dash? we liked dash, but art and francoise’s son was dash. gash? SO GOTH. lash? we talked about lash for a while. what a sexy name, right? sash? perfect if he goes into ballet…) then anthony died. so we named him anthony. or ash for short.

3 that’s not really fair. he can do a LOT of things by himself. he can eat his own toes, he can grab his toy cloth pig, he can boob-hunt, he can wiggle around, he can even kind of play piano…i just meant, obviously, that he can’t change his diaper by himself, or be coordinated enough to stop from falling off a thing once he starts to fall off.

4 jason and i had an argument about this. well not quite an argument but i’ve actually always wondered if it’s “jury-rigged” or “jerry-rigged”, because i hear people say both, and i’m so confused that i say both all the time. so while writing this song i finally googled it. it’s TECHNICALLY jury-rigged. grammarist.com says: “A little-used definition of jury is intended or designated for temporary use. It’s a nautical term of unknown origin, and in its early use it usually appeared in the phrase jury mast, referring to a temporary mast put up to replace one that has been lost. This is the source of the verb jury-rig, meaning to assemble for temporary use, and its derivative adjective jury-rigged. Jerry-rig is a variant spelling of jury-rig. One could call it incorrect because it entered the language several centuries after jury-rig and is obviously derived from a misspelling of the original, but it is widely used and is accepted by some dictionaries. It would be easier to dismiss jerry-rig as incorrect if we didn’t have the separate adjective jerry-built, which means built of bad materials. Jerry-built may or may not be etymologically related to jury-rig (its origins are mysterious), but all major dictionaries agree that jerry is the correct spelling in this case.” (http://grammarist.com/usage/jury-rig-jerry-rig-jerry-built/)…after i sent this link to jason (who was across the room, making dinner) he argued that even if the correct expression is jury-rigged, people say jerry-rigged, and so i should feel free to use either. but by the time i found out that one was actually correct, i felt like i could never go back, and now it will bother me every time i hear someone say “jerry-rigged”.

5 so to call it a SHELF is actually not accurate, it was more like a…random surface in this rental house. kind of like a built in table. the worst thing about the whole episode was the fact that the floor was made of hard tile. i tried to fit that into the song. it didn’t fit.

6 okay. not a second. i mean, peeing takes more than a second. that’s a turn of phrase.  the truth is more awful, i was also doing more than peeing. this is where the guilt starts to creep in. i was downstairs in the house, and upstairs were allan amato and olga nunes, who had asked me if they could come by and interview me for their documentary about art. and i’d said fine, and was juggling getting ready for shooting their thing and taking care of the baby, and was not only peeing but putting on eyeliner. so i was in there for more like…three minutes. maybe less. maybe more. the irony of all this is that you can watch the interview, which was filmed about 15 minutes after this all happened. i’m not sure if i look weird, but i felt weird. https://vimeo.com/152328042

7 he managed to push himself, for the first time, with his arms, to the edge of the table. i could hear him cry from the bathroom, which was about 15 feet away…

8 …and as soon as i heard him cry and was rushing out to see if he was okay, he was just slipping off the edge. he didn’t actually fall in slow motion. it just seemed it. i ran over, with my heart in shreds, wondering if maybe i would have a paralyzed baby, or at least a baby with a broken bone. i had just been talking to my aunt sonia about how one of her twin sons had a broken arm at three months because he slipped out of her grip. he was crying so woefully. i held him to my chest and rocked him and rocked him and took him to the bed. and fed him. and then i looked over his entire body and he seemed to be okay. but now i had that image stuck in my head of him falling (like the recurring dream sequence in the brady bunch of marsha getting hit in the nose with the football over and over). the image will still not leave my head. it is stuck.

9 worst SHORT moment. i was okay about a day later. i spent the next day in a kind of a shivering shock, checking his body for possible broken bones or wrong things. the worst LONG moment was probably that time in 1996 i had the worst hangover of my life, maybe i’ll do that song next. with footnotes.

10 here’s how it happened, and i’ll even come clean about the time it happened in new york, like a month later. i go shopping. i have the baby. the baby is asleep in the car. i need to take the baby into the store. the baby’s car seat fits in his stroller, which is great. it means he will stay asleep. it is very good when the baby stays asleep so that i can shop without having to entertain or feed him. but. i cannot wheel the baby and a shopping cart at the same time. they both take two hands. i am not sure what other people do. i refuse to look these things up on the internet. so i improvise, and i’ve found his entire car seat fits into most grocery carts. this is AWESOME. it means i can park the car, run to the place where the shopping carts are, run back to the car, insert the baby, and then wheel him around the store. it also means he gets covered with groceries. you see where this is headed. so twice now, i’ve done a huge grocery run and gotten to the car (in this particular case) or home (in the case of the small package of cinnamon) before i realize that the baby had lost groceries hidden within or atop him. i now check the baby REALLY carefully before i leave the store. note that i am being a really big person and not making some cheap shot joke about the baby being the thief here. he’s just a baby, he can’t steal anything yet.

11 this was in sarasota, so the song is out of order. i know. the original lyric was the truth: it wasn’t a safeway, it was a Publix. Publix is a chain of supermarkets in florida. the hilarious thing is that i was getting it confused with the supermarket in L.A., which is a Vons. but no, neil confirmed, it was the Publix in sarasota where i accidentally stole the chapstick. it was jason who made me change it. we were working on the song in his houseboat and he was like, “what’s a publics?” and i was like “it’s a chain of supermarkets” and he was like “i’ve never heard of it” and i was like “well it’s only on the west coast” and he was like “amanda we’re ON the west coast, we’re in seattle” and i was like “i mean CALIFORNIA” and he was like “the lyric is going to confuse people, it isn’t clear it’s a supermarket” and i was like “i think people will understand” and he was like “i would forgive it if it was a weird supermarket-y sounding supermarket but it isn’t, it sounds like it could be something else because it’s a real word” and i was like “publix isn’t a real word” and he said “yes it is, the public’s opinion on donald trump is divided” and i was like “but it sounds so good with chapstick” and he was like “change it to safeway” and i was like “ugh fine.” i’m still not sure i made the right decision. i’m clearly not sure about ANYTHING. i think i’ll use “publix” if i ever play it live again, just to be like OH YEAH. (see exhibit A for a picture of the sarasota publix).

12 mind you – this is a GIGANTIC shopping mall parking lot. it’s florida. you’ve been to florida. so the car is like miles from the store. i should shut up here, i think. (again, see exhibit A).

13 this is the truth, and in my defense i have walked BACK into stores on at least a dozen occasions in my life when i got like halfway down the street and realized i was still holding the pen/chapstick/banana/whatever in my hand that i forgot to put on the checkout counter. this time i was just like FUCK. it had taken so much drama to get the groceries and the baby out to the car. i was like: they will forgive me. will they forgive me? i don’t know. do you forgive me?

14  true

15 not true. this happened in florida and when i wrote the song, i thought it had happened in california. so i lied, but by accident. kind of.

16  there are two sets of cousins in this song. were were at my california cousins over christmas. katherine is my main cousin there and then there was robert, who died just after anthony, who once played ukulele on the beach with me (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsvI0KWoaTE), and gus, and guy and michelle, and betsey, and maureen and maddy, and frank, and annie, and brent, and grant, and mac…and more.

17 here’s a lie: the Von’s (which was the Safeway, which was the Publix) was actually only like two miles from my cousins’ house in california where i was late to be the time that i thought i was remembering when i wrote the song. so yeah i was lying there, not by accident. i just wanted my case to sound solid.

18  what’s weird here is when i wrote the song and was remembering the wrong supermarket, it was actually a grocery run i did of like $450 because it was all the stuff for christmas day. but the run to the publix, which is the safeway, which was the actual story, i think i actually only spent like $60. but still.

19  i admit: i made that up. it was a loose chapstick. it couldn’t have cost that much. i just googled to make myself feel better and most single chapsticks costs like a dollar. i am very relieved to see that mostly online you buy chapstick in a three-pack and that the three-pack is like $2.82.  point = AFP. (see exhibit B).

20 this is just a random interesting songwriting note: the original draft of the song had ” i know it wasn’t the right thing to do; to use my newborn infant as an excuse” with more crunched in timing, but jason said he didn’t like it. i trust jason. most of the time.

21  i felt weird about saying “newborn”, because, he’s kind of not. i mean, what counts as newborn? what counts as NEW? i just looked it up online:

“new·born ˈn(y)o͞oˌbôrn/ adjective 1. (of a child or animal) recently or just born.”

so i think i’m in the clear there. i mean, he was kind of just born. how are we defining “recently” here? i just googled again and wound up on the website of the World Health Organization…they say “A newborn infant, or neonate, is a child under 28 days of age.” so here i am, lying. they also go on to say ” During these first 28 days of life, the child is at highest risk of dying. It is thus crucial that appropriate feeding and care are provided during this period, both to improve the child’s chances of survival and to lay the foundations for a healthy life.” so there the WHO is, getting fucking meta in my googling about my own song. HOWEVER, i don’t really know if this can count as a lie because i DO state his age in the first line of the song.

point = World Health Organization. (http://www.who.int/topics/infant_newborn/en/)

22 it really did. but also i felt really guilty. you know that feeling?

23  so, a note about this car part. it’s a time-collage of tears. i’ve cried a lot since having the baby and often in cars and often after doing stupid shit. this moment may not have actually happened, but it might has well have.

24 this part is true. every time something has started bugging me lately, especially something really mundane, i’ve been clinging onto this mantra. it’s very useful.

25 hear that drum? it’s quiet, but it’s in there. so, jason lives outside of seattle in a houseboat. we were all sleeping on the houseboat. and that’s the drum that jason saw FLOATING DOWN THE RIVER OUTSIDE THE HOUSEBOAT the first morning we woke up there. jason was like: “do you see what’s floating down the river?” and i was like “no, what?” but he was already outside getting in his canoe. i stood there holding the baby thinking that this sort of thing probably happens to you every morning if you’re jason webley. red bass drums just float down the river and call to you when you wake up in the morning and you get in your canoe and go rescue them. that’s what makes you jason webley. i got some pictures of the drum rescue. (see exhibits C and D).

26 it’s a lie. she just turned ninety-EIGHT. but i tried really really hard to find things that worked with the story that rhymed with eight and i just couldn’t make it work. i tried, i swear. i felt really bad about this, because as you can see in a second, i already screwed up royally with the blanket.  on the other hand, sidney really did turn ninety-four. i wondered for a second if i should lie about him, too, and make him ninety-five, but that would have just made things worse, i think. i think helen will be really nice about it. i’m kind of nervous about her hearing this song. at least it doesn’t have any swears in it. helen doesn’t like it when i swear. wait, are there any swears in this song? i had to think about it for a second. i don’t think there are. anyway: sidney’s birthday is january 30th and helen’s birthday is february 1st and they’ve been married for SIXTY SEVEN YEARS. they were married after helen escaped poland and moved to new york after the war, in 1948.

27 it’s a half-lie to say that sidney was SICK, he wasn’t SICK so much as in the rehab center next door in a wheelchair most of the time because he fell three weeks before and broke his arm and hip. when you fall and you’re ninety-four it’s a drag. but i couldn’t fit it in and make it work. so i kind of lied. i mean…sick is usually reserved for not-broken-bone sick. what do we call that? what’s the word for sick-from-broken-bones? laid up? i needed one syllable. sue me.

28   for awesome ash and helen time, see exhibit E.

29 this is true. helen was in the warsaw ghetto. she and her sisters all escaped the gas chambers in different ways, and how they escaped is not my story to tell. helen is one of the most wonderful people i have ever met, and it has been so important to me that she and little anthony are getting time together. they have a kind of connection that leaves me in awe. they span almost a century. if you think about it, if ash lives a hundred years, they’ll SPAN TWO CENTURIES. think about how long a time that is. (for more awesome ash and helen time, see exhibit F.)

30  this is actually true. i don’t think i’ve ever visited helen and she hasn’t begun or ended a visit with “i love you” while she grabs my hands and said it at least once during the visit. i try to be more like helen lately and when i am with someone i love, i just say it all the time. it feels nice. if you think about the fact that you might die any second (and guess what, you might) it makes it easier. try it.

31 this is a totally true story with no embellishment or un-embellishment. she gave us the blanket when we first went down to florida, three weeks after the baby was born in tennessee. i couldn’t believe that she had spent so much time, SO MUCH TIME, making this gigantic and beautiful thing for our son. i imagined her sitting there day after day, putting all of this love and handiwork into the blanket. she’s ninety-eight. her hands are old. she gets tired really easily. it just felt…huge…

32 real emails. this part is true. (see exhibit G)

33 … which was why i was so shame-filled when the blanket mix-up happened. helen’s blanket is sea-foam green (see exhibit H).we were given another one, a smaller one, by someone else, at some other time. i don’t even remember when. that one was blue (see exhibit I). they looked NOTHING ALIKE. i mean, i had no goddam excuse. the only thing these blankets had in common is that they were hand-knitted. (or hand-crocheted, i’m never sure which is which). in my defense, i had a three week year old baby when helen gave us this blanket and my mind was melting down the inside of my spine. i was lost, pretty much all the time. this is, i would like to point out, the same trip where i stole the chapstick, at the publix. anyway…after we left florida that first time, i started emailing helen all these pictures of ash and the blanket. ash in the blanket. i noticed she wasn’t responding. and then she was like: “amanda, that’s not the blanket i made. mine was sea-foam green and that one is blue.” do you know how horrible it feels to get an email like that from a ninety-seven year old woman? it feels TERRIBLE. when i started writing this song, it was basically a song to purge the blanket-guilt. it’s almost worse than the baby-falling guilt. it’s hard to say.

34 and did you notice that i didn’t mention who knitted the other blanket? i am adding this here and i don’t even need to, but this is confessional. i can’t remember. i can’t remember who gave it to us. if it was you, please write to me. you’re going to get your own song.

35 this was the goodwill in seattle. the worst thing about this is that it was the BEST goodwill i’ve ever been to. so there are a few ways of looking at this. first of all, in my defense (i am saying that too much) i spent about $200 in this goodwill. i bought a skirt and a suitcase and bunch of nice dresses and clothes for TED and a jacket to wear during my surprise david bowie performance there which was PERFECT (did you see it? it was PERFECT, see exhibit J.)

36  this is a lie. they were actually hooked over the handle of the stroller. i tried them on, liked them, had lost my other sunglasses somewhere, and decided to buy them. i was, once again, using the baby as a replacement shopping cart and covering him with clothes, which he seemed (i am not kidding at all) to really enjoy. every time i went to the dressing room to try on clothes i was like “don’t forget the sunglasses are hooked on the stroller, amanda”. and then i forgot. i was a few blocks away when i realized it, and already in the car, and again, made the unethical choice. i am not defending myself here. i should have gone back. these sunglasses cost $3.99. (to see the sunglasses in question, which i haven’t lost, please refer to exhibit K). i really want to get my philosopher friend josh from yale involved in this whole situation, because it’s an ethical one, and he studies ethics, and he would probably be quick to point out that my calculating was unethical. i mean, if the sunglasses had cost fifty cents would it be more or less ethical? what if they cost $49? the whole point is that i measured using a scale of capitalism instead of a scale of ethics and i shouldn’t have done it. at this, point, though, it’s too late to send the chapstick and the sunglasses to whence they came (i mean, goodwill would probably not put them back on the shelf…would they?). so i’ve decided my ethical failure should result in two checks (exhibits L & M), one in which i pay the publix back their $1.99 and one in which i pay goodwill back their $3.99 plus $100 because they’re goodwill and not The Man.

37 i don’t really want to write this footnote. because of all the things in this song, this one feels the most incriminating. like, even in the footnotes, i’m fucking terrified that the parent-police are going to read this and knock on the door and take my child away. it would be easy to blame this one on neil, but the truth is we both fucked up and we left the baby in the car. i’m not going to go into the details. even i have my limits. ask me over wine in a bar sometime. at least he wasn’t in there very long, on a cool day. and not directly in the sun. and thank god no-one walking by happened to notice what we’d done. i mean: that could have been bad. HOWEVER, it has been comforting to realize that almost every parent has fucked up in this way at least once. after i played this song a few days after writing it, in seattle, where jason and i were doing a benefit for the everett animal shelter, a handful of people talking to me after the show confided their horrific “when i fucked up” baby stories. i wonder if i’m now going to become a receptacle of people’s horrific baby confessions. bring them on. i’ll take them. every one of them lightens my load. actually, maybe there can be a confessional as part of this song-post. i’m going to look into it.

38  it is!

39 we are! kind of.

40 i wonder if that’s going to come off as disingenuous. i mean, i AM doing things other than taking care of this baby. i am clearly accidentally shoplifting chapsticks and sunglasses, flying in planes, doing shows at TED, putting out david bowie cover records, writing long songs in jason’s house, and, you know, stuff. maybe herein lies the problem. maybe mothers of small babies really should just lie in bed and gaze into the eyes on their infant and nurse and listen to john coltrane and drink juice. i did that for the first three weeks. but then i didn’t. i think there’s one very obvious skill i have lost, that i was never very good at in the first place: editing. i am a shit editor. give me a few weeks and i can write a short song. give me a day and that fucker’s going to be 11 minutes.

41 this is kind of a way of throwing focus. neil is probably a better driver than me, overall, and we do have a speeding ticket coming down the pike (no pun intended) in the next verse. but come to think of it he did back the car straight into a tree about a week after the baby was born and the bumper was dented and he was really angry at himself and the funniest part was that we were leaving a yoga class. he was in fucking space. i tried to convince him to forgive himself. but anyway, i don’t want him to die more than ever, and i’ve always had a thing about him dying, mostly because i get stuck in my head and start thinking about how he’s older than me. and then i remember that any of us could get hit by a bus at any time and i look at my friends who have partners with HIV and i look at my friend zoë whose husband jeff just got taken by cancer at age 43 and i look at anthony who died at 65 and i look at all the people dying randomly everywhere at random ages and i just stop worrying about it because who has the time.

42 i wasn’t sure where else to put this picture but it seemed relevant somehow..it’s neil changing the baby on the back of the same ill-fated rental car in which the baby was abandoned-not-for-very-long. sometimes you just have to change a baby. neil is a champion diaper changer, whether or not he is macgyvering the changing station. (see exhibits)

43 he’s been really good on planes (see exhibit N)

44  i mean, not alone, because i was with the baby, but not with neil. alone-with-a-baby is totally a thing. i’ve actually gotten really into being alone with the baby, because he just IS and doesn’t need to make small talk about anything and i like hanging out alone with him in cafes and bars and stuff because it’s basically like being alone only you have to change diapers and occasionally feed the baby. i actually caught myself in conversation the other day saying “i’ll be there in three days” when i actually was talking about the baby and me. so i corrected myself. we’ll be there. we’ll be there, me and him. me. and him. us.

45 he makes a really good godfather. ash is his sixth godchild and he’s thinking about holding an annual Summit of the Godchildren. jason has been my real true friend for so long, and i treasure time with him. i’d found out about TED being early this year, and in vancouver again, so i hit jason up to see if he’d be in seattle, where he lives, so i could come introduce him to the baby. jason is liminal: (ˈlimənl/ adjective, technical 1. of or relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process 2. occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.) we met in australia in the street when we were both busking, back in 2000, and we stayed friends. then in around 2007 he introduced me to michael, my boyfriend before neil, and then he introduced me to neil in 2008, and then he officiated mine and neil’s wedding, and when i was just about to have the baby, he visited the place where i was giving birth in tennessee. he stayed for a few days and left for a plane about three hours after i went into labor, so he never got to see the baby. he’s a human threshold, this guy. the thread that threads me. anyway, when i showed up at his houseboat in seattle, we thought we might make some music together, but didn’t decide what, and then one night the power went out and i slept on the floor with the baby and he slept in the loft and we stayed up all night making each other giggle and challenging each other to write 11 songs the next day. well, 11 songs total, 4 each and three together. i wrote this one, on the upright piano in the houseboat (see exhibit O) . jason wrote one about the local donut shop (it’s actually good, believe me) and we tried to finish my children’s song, “the butt song” together. i just checked what day that was: it was the 11th. of february. i liked my song enough to ask him if we could record it the next day, and so we stayed up til like 3 am, and we did it. (see exhibit P for some photos of how charming our workspace was).

46 this is a REALLY interesting lie! so…he IS playing the accordion, but not at the exact time i did the vocal. i did the piano and vocal in one take. i worked on the lyrics all day and kept telling jason i was almost ready to record it. but then we wanted to go see the donut shop that he had written the song about and then jason wanted to make soup for dinner and we needed to watch some youtube clips of bernie sanders on saturday night live and by the time we actually started recording it was eleven o’clock, so i practiced the song like once and it was so long we just started recording and it was also funny because it was just us in the houseboat with the baby so when the baby was making noise which was like almost all the time, we couldn’t really record, and then finally at like 2 am the baby fell asleep and i got a good, single take. but jason couldn’t POSSIBLY be playing the accordion at the same time because it was just me playing and the baby on the blanket (THE RIGHT BLANKET) and jason engineering the song (exhibit Q) and he was also sometimes holding the baby (exhibit R). so he couldn’t actually play the accordion live on the take, he played it like two days later and also used that day as a photo opp for this footnote shitshow (exhibit S). and while we’re doing jason-multi-instrumentalist show and tell… he added the glockenspiel that you hear (exhibit T). and he also played, as you know from way back in the story, the river-drum…all spiffied up (exhibit U!) but back to the point: he IS playing the accordion, but at the same time he’s also not. schroedinger’s accordion. and to make things even weirder, i’m technically playing the piano but actually I AM NOT PLAYING THE PIANO AT ALL. by the time you listen to the recording, i’ve played the piano ages ago, and jason has technically played the accordion more recently than i played the piano. it’s all so confusing and timey-wimey.

47 this is a half-truth. i didn’t lose it…well, i lost it once…but that was a while ago. like over a year and a half ago. i still, to this day, do not know how i lost it. it was in my apartment and then it was gone. so i had to go to the boston passport office at the time (i’ll never forget it, because anthony was sick and in the cancer halfway house at the time, not far from the passport office, and i went from being with him in the cancer-room to getting my passport to going out to lunch with a friend who i think was suicidal and then back to cancer land. and one thing i remember was seeing all the babies in the passport office getting their passports. it was, otherwise, a dark day.) my original passport eventually surfaced but by then it was too late, i’d been issued a temporary passport, and this was the one that i had to get replaced with a permanent one before i went to TED in vancouver, canada. you need a passport. and i’d started applying in summer, with superkate helping me with all the bureaucratic forms and applications and one thing led to another led to another and pictures were delayed and forms were wrong and here i was, a week before leaving for canada, with no fucking passport. so it wasn’t as bad as i make it sound. i lied. it worked for the song. are we getting the gist here? sometimes you lie more, and sometimes you lie less, and sometimes you lie to make yourself sound better, and sometimes you lie to make yourself sound worse.

48  this part is true. i got the next possible appointment at the seattle passport office, which was like an hour drive from jason’s houseboat.

49 this part is also true. i was going 17 miles over the limit, which had just changed from 70 to 60. (see exhibit V).

50 all of this is completely accurate. i freak out, like most people probably, when cops pull me over. and i was already freaked out from motherhood and passport.

51  there’s a kind of a nice silver lining here, i suppose, which is that because i got pulled over and had been panicking about feeding the baby, i got to feed the baby in the breakdown lane, which was what i had been deliriously thinking about doing about 5 minutes before because i couldn’t find a place to pull off and now maybe i wonder if i was self-consciously sabotaging myself so i could legally feed the baby in the breakdown lane and not have to pull off the highway to feed him and therefore have a higher probability of making my passport appointment on time. which reminds me, i lied again. i got the speeding ticket on the way to pick UP the passport after i’d already been in once to apply for it. the whole thing was a pain in the ass. but i thought i’d make this clear. this was trip number two. wait. if i’m being totally honest it was trip-into-seattle-from-jason’s number THREE  because the day before i had to drive in to get a medical exam for another visa (it’s a long story). but i mention that because it was the drive-in-to-get-the-medical-exam-day that i saw the lady in the bar. spoiler alert if you’re reading these footnotes in realtime while listening to the song. wait, is that possible??

52 let me just pause here and say that i know how hyperbolic this song is, and i know what kind of mother i am. i am a normal mother. because everybody is totally weird, as far as i’m concerned. seriously. show me a normal person. i’ll give you $5.

53 this is absolutely true except see the last footnote. i wasn’t waiting for my passport (well, i was waiting in the grand sense, to get it the next day), i was on my way home back to jason’s after getting a medical exam for a visa. i asked seattle for a good coffee spot (https://twitter.com/amandapalmer/status/697111924400476161 and exhibit W) and a bunch of people twittered back and one girl mentioned the five point cafe (exhibit X), which i happened to be walking right by on the way to my parked rental car.  so i went in.

54 it wasn’t noon, but it was close. it was around one o’clock. but still. and she was drinking. i’m not sure what, something reddish/pinkish with ice. but you know how you can tell the difference between when people are drinking and they’re drinking? she was drinking.

55 all completely true, and she added that her daughter was eighteen and her son was fourteen. and it was the pause that killed me. and if you were wondering, the coffee was great, the staff was great, i wanted to return many times (see what it looks like by consulting exhibit Y) i had an avocado benedict and am planning on sending @msmellymel some kind of magical gift for helping me technically write a verse of this song. thanks, girl.

56 i didn’t literally say that, but i said something close. there was something about the way she was looking at us. i have to say, one of my favorite things about having a baby is giving him away to other people. he’s like a little warm human rorschach test. insert him into human arms and watch what happens. amazing things happen. scary things happen. the dark gets pulled out of the light and the light shoots into the closet. it gets WEIRD when you hand people a baby. especially when most people don’t go around handing their babies to strangers. i will stand by this: babies like being held, by everybody. actually, no. THIS baby seems to like to be held by everybody. unless you’re freaking out and anxious, then he cries.

57 true story. and i’d seen it coming. and while she cried, she looked at me and told me she was going through a really hard time. and we talked for a second. and then i left.

58 sorry not sorry.

59 this is mostly a fabrication of space-time. there have been plenty of times i’ve sat with the baby in the back of the car (most memorably, the time i realized we’d left him there and i just sat back there rocking him and me in a terrified bonding session) but this time wasn’t one of them. this time i got in the car and drove away. but i did put the radio on. but it wasn’t the news. we listened to indie music on KEXP.

60 true-ish. even though i wasn’t listening to NPR, which is my car music of choice, i’ve been reading the news a lot since coming back from childbirth. i think it’s been a stupid idea. now i’m just sad a lot of the time.

61 this was jason’s lyric. i couldn’t find a two-syllable word for “calm” with the right emphasis. he found it. i love jason.

62 i really wanted to use “apparent” instead of “gigantic”. but i figure throwing a pun that stupid in at the end of the song was just not a good idea.

63 this feels like maybe the most important lie in the song. it’s not true, that i’ve ever thought this. it sounds good in the song, and there’s maybe some part of me that wonders, but not really. not at all, even. i had this child and that’s that. i’ve kind of closed the door on regret. i actually closed it the second i was pregnant this time. i was done deciding. i thought about whether it was a good idea to keep this line in, and fuck it. i did.

64 “everybody” is the assemblage of people (about 30 of them) who crowded into jason’s houseboat the night after we recorded the song and agreed to be our chorus. they named themselves “the shakarooners” because the event we had all just been to, the everett animal shelter benefit, was called shakaroo.  i don’t know why it was called shakaroo. but…get it? sha….karooners? o well. the alternate group name was “the floating drum collective”. huge thanks to all of those people. you were awesome.

65  i did!

66  i’ve gotten three speeding tickets in under two years! they might! but they haven’t yet!

67  i haven’t!

68  i haven’t been!

69 he hasn’t! (exhibit Z)

 

 


EXHIBITS:

exhibit A: this is the publix in sarasota. not the vons in hermosa beach, not a safeway anywhere.

exhibit B: three pack of chap-stick, $2.82

PastedGraphic-46.png

exhibit C: the drum that floated by

exhibit D: jason rescuing the floating drum.

exhibit E: ash and helen time

exhibit F: what the hell, more ash and helen time

exhibit G: the incriminating email (one of them)

Exhibit G

exhibit H: the right blanket, with sidney and helen.

exhibit I: the wrong blanket:

exhibit J: the goodwill jacket from my TED surprise… (and al gore).

al gore.png

(photo from TED.com)

exhibit K: the sunglasses from goodwill.

exhibit L: checks to the publix (not vons or safeway) and to goodwill

Exhibit L

exhibit M: neil is an excellent father/diaper macgyver

Exhibit M

exhibit N: the baby flies with ease.

exhibit O: jason’s houseboat piano with my song on it

exhibit P: my lyric station, across from the piano.

exhibit Q:

IMG_3216.JPG

exhibit R:

exhibit S: jason playing the accordion

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exhibit T: the glockenspiel overdub

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exhibit U: the dog is named wilson. note hermann hesse books on shelf.

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(all photos of jason playing things by nicole moon)

exhibit V: speeding ticket.

exhibit W: the coffee tweet

exhibit X: the coffee answer

exhibit Y: the five point

Seattle_-_Five_Point_Cafe_01 (1) 2.jpg

(photo credit: wiki commons)

exhibit Z: see? totally alive, right blanket and all.

all photos by amanda palmer unless otherwise noted.

thanks again to the patrons for supporting me in my making of The Things. please do leave blog comments, we’re readin’. and if you liked this experience, please share the page. this shit will never be in stores…it’s not even on iTunes. it’s just me against the music, i mean, me and you and the internet, people. long live the punk cabaret, and i’m off to change a diaper.

i love you all a lot.

XXX

amfp

514 Responses to “A Mother’s Confession: A SONG WITH FOOTNOTES”

  1. Gavin Apmorrygan

    Just saying thank your for being so open and honest so happy to come across your patron and patron group. Seriously has saved a life.

    Reply
  2. Bekah

    Not a mom, but I have six younger brothers and sisters and I’ve had a few scary, not-so-good big sister moments. The worst was when I stepped on my youngest brother, Jonathan, when he was trying to take a nap on the living room floor (but in my defense, the room was pretty dark). He was still little then. Four to five months old. I didn’t see him until I took a step and put my full 120 pounds onto his tiny chest. He woke up screaming. I was horrified. I remember wanting to cry.
    Luckily, he was okay. Now he’s five years old and that whole stepping-on-Jonathan business has become one of those stories we always tell at family get-togethers. I wonder how old he’ll be when he gets to hear the story.

    Reply
  3. Michelle

    Amanda, you are putting my heart into words, as usual. My Finn is 6 months old. I saw you perform twice while we were both pregnant, and I went back onstage myself a month after I became a mom. Your ongoing thoughts on Motherhood have been a lifeline.

    My baby has fallen on the floor twice while I was preoccupied with peeing and/or dozing off, and once while he just launched off my lap. Each time I’ve been distraught. Each time the baby has been back to giggling within a minute. I took him to the doctor because I’d nipped his fingernail too short and he wouldn’t stop crying or bleeding. He and the doctor both laughed as he got his band aid.

    I think I might be the worst, but at least the baby didn’t die. He’s crawling now. Fear for us all.

    Reply
    • Michelle

      OH AND I forgot the best one: last night I fell UP the stairs with the baby in my arms. The baby did not hit the floor, and in fact did not even wake up, but I had to call my husband to help me pry myself off the ground without waking him or dropping him. I have an enormous lumpy bruise on my shin. The baby snored contentedly while I picked up my dignity.

      Reply
  4. Trootling

    I heard you perform this at Shakaroo and loved every minute of it! The whole car ride home was full of the other moms and I sharing horror stories. Two of mine… once I left a baby sleeping in the car when I went into a glasses store to find/purchase new frames. Didn’t realize until paying she was still out there! Also had my eldest child (3 years old at the time) shut (and therefore lock) the door behind me in dead of winter when I went out to garage. Could see her through the glass gorging herself on forbidden fruit — Altoids. And feeding them one at a time to her 1.5 year old sister. CHOKING HAZARD ANYONE? Had to call my husband from a neighbor’s house out of the courtroom to come and unlock the door. Shining motherhood moment.

    Reply
  5. KZS

    I can relate to this so much. I cried through the the entire song, remembering the struggle I also endured that first year with a newborn. I was responsible for another human being’s life. ME! I am currently sitting on my car in the parking lot at my daughter’s middle school waiting for her to get out of play practice. I am sobbing.

    My kids are now 12 and almost 16, and although the worries are different, they are still ever present. Though at least the babies didn’t die.

    Reply
  6. outfoxing

    Parental brain melting is one hundred percent a thing, a pretty universal thing at that. Hell, I’m currently babysitting my slightly-younger-than-Ash cousin while her parents work, and I’m mostly a zombie by the time I get home. I have no vague idea what I’m going to do if/when I have a kid of my own and the baby goes home with me. Changing diapers, soothing upset tummies, guiding little muscles to grow stronger every day, that’s the easier part for me. I’ve babysat most of my younger cousins for their first few years of life, I know the script by now. Being patient and hitting the brakes for a second when I’m stretched too thin is where I have trouble. Self-care is for sure important, and where I usually fall short tbh. There’s a balance between selfless caregiving and selfish indulgence that leaves you just enough room to get shit done well without completely losing your mind. So I’ve been told, at least the baby didn’t die. Sure, you’re exhausted and your brain feels like a thick sludge and it might be leaking out of both your ears, but he’s okay and apparently feet are a wonderful snack.

    Reply
  7. Sue Mey

    Hello. Trust me you are not alone. The village of self doubting parents is huge and we are doing the best.

    I follow RIE, Montessori, attachment parenting and pikler for freedom of movement of the newborn ( you don’t need them to seclude them into strollers, bouncers, etc. if you have a mirror and a floor mattress or a safe place for him to move he will do it and even do it earlier than most)

    So I was and am a big movement advocate. My son started walking at 11 months old and when he was about that age he crawl into the sofa and was starting to learn how to get down the highest part but in just a second he was on the top and fell forehead first into our very hard ceramic floor and I flew to him (I was next to him when it happened and everything moved so slowly) and picked him up from the floor and he would not stop crying for about an hour and he even cried in his sleep.

    He is 17 months now and I still let him fall on his own and climb things but that image of him falling will never leave me.

    Also I could not breastfeed and that made me feel so guilty. I am over it but it was a dark time.

    Reply
    • Amanda Palmer

      dude. as long as they don’t die. and i’ll google all those things. i’m like the most non-internet parent ever. i haven’t looked into any “forms” of parenting yet, except the amazing “continuum concept” book i’ve been devouring. i feel like my instincts are pretty solid and time spent obsessing about everything else is time spent not with him. and i learn from the herd/hive here in the place where i trust people. it’s part of the reason i was so happy to put this song out there to you guys.x

      Reply
      • Suemey

        I am a firm believer that instincts are the first part of the pyramid, then people I trust with their advice and then experts like Maria Montessori, Emilio Reggio, PIkler, Gerber (RIE), and Waldorf.

        Those dudes were so ahead of time. Maria said follow the child don’t follow me. If you trust your child and their absorbent mind they will show you their gift and their potential will unfold.

        I am a huge nerd when I like something and I like learning about those alternatives way of parenting (no violence, trust the child (baby led weaning), let them take risks, free play, freedom of movement, etc)

        There is a rabbit hole within the internet if you look for all those things. But if you go to the source instead of forums, it will be worth it.

        Your child is small and if you make him a pikler triangle and place a mirror and a stand up bar (like for ballet) a low shelve with some sensory items ( no batteries, and hopefully with natural materials (wood, metal, cotton) they will have a blast.

        The only three blogs I will totally recommend are howwemontessori, the kavanaugh report and Midwestern Montessori. And for RIE THE JANE SALSBURY PAGE.

        I bet your midwifes and doulas and some friends know about one or all of these things.

        Enjoy the baby and research when he is sleep of with your husband or friends. Seriously totally worth it.

        Reply
        • Lis_P

          I’ve been to pikler playrooms with both my kids and although the costs are high they’ve been a great thing for the kids as well as for me. You learn so much about how to let your baby discover movement without intervention just by watching how the pikler people do it, and the kids profit a lot in the long run. They are much more centered in their bodies than kids you are “leading up to everything”.

          They are in waldorf daycare/preschool, and I just scored my older son a place in a montessori school for the fall.

          Not so much a Gerber fan myself though.

          but yeah, in my opinion, if you follow pikler, waldorf and montessori, in my book you are good. Also: I’m going to share my own scary fall stories once I’m done reading. Because everybody has them.

          Reply
  8. em mccarty

    my third child–the daughter i waited my whole life for–she spent 12 days in NICU because i had an accidentally unattended homebirth and she didn’t get enough oxygen at first. she survived that and then when she was 4 months old, i dropped her (the only one i have ever dropped!) while trying to put her into the pocket sling i have used forever. i was on my way to my first appointment with my therapist. also, my darling daughter is the only one i have forgotten in the car. three times when she was a baby. for a few minutes each time–but still! so scary!! i remember when my first baby was born, i would cry–wondering when exactly i was going to fuck him up. somehow i have four healthy, happy children now. life is weird.

    Reply
    • Amanda Palmer

      life is normal. we are weird. or maybe: we are normal people having normal reactions to normal situations (which we think are weird). xx

      Reply
      • em mccarty

        this meme tells me otherwise…but memes often tell me what i want to hear–especially if i carefully sculpt my facebook page.
        i am strange. the world is strange. life is unpredictable at best. and we are all one glorious mess.

        Reply
        • alphatroll

          Life is one of those awesome kinetic contradictions that make the universe so cool. Like a steady, standing ripple in a stream, made of an entirely different collection of water molecules at any given time, yet it remains, just because entropy makes is flow downhill and there happens to be a rock in the way. Order created and fueled by chaos.

          Reply
  9. KZS

    Oh yes, my confession. When my daughter was about 3 years old, we had to call poison control… TWICE. First time was at my mother-in-law’s house, where she found a bottle of Wite-Out and drank it (thankfully, non-toxic). Second time, when I was hungover in bed after a night of drinking with my friends, and she grabbed facial toner out of the bathroom and drank that!

    The good news is, the baby didn’t die. She’s now an extremely unique and clever and talented 12-year-old. You’ve actually met her twice — once at your NYC book signing (she gave you Marlene Dietrich paper dolls) and again at the Rough Trade record store day event with Brian (with whom she has taken a few drum lessons).

    All will be okay ❤️❤️❤️

    Reply
    • Amanda Palmer

      thank you for the hangover confession!! i haven’t dealt with one yet, since i’m keeping the alcohol intake to a minimum b/c breastfeeding. but…i’m sure that day may come. thanks for being honest. xx

      Reply
      • KZS

        You’re very welcome. And THANK YOU for this song. It brought back so many memories of my first year of motherhood, and I’m sure it will help other new moms realize they are not alone.

        Reply
    • Marina Radcliff

      Wow, the timing, I had my first call to Poison Control 30 minutes ago. I’m still shaking. My son is 2, and has this fascination with lip balm – he puts it on his lips, his cheeks, his forehead (also the walls, sometimes, other people, his stuffed animals). I have extremely dry hands because I wash mine a lot, and it’s winter, so I use arnica salve on them, and left it sitting on my desk. It’s a small pot and he smeared it all over his lips – and some inside, because he’s a baby and the line between inside and out is too finely drawn for their distinction.

      I kept calm, called poison control, Rowan talking in the background the whole time as I told him I was calling a lady who would help me know something, etc. She said to wipe it off (already done) and just let him drink a lot of anything he would drink (though I think I’ll keep him away from the wite-out and facial toner for this ;) ) to dilute it. As I was thanking the PC lady, Rowan piped up with “tank you, ladeee”, and then promptly opened a door into his lip so I could wonder all day whether the swelling was from the arnica salve or the hit he took from the door. And I’m STILL shaking from the adrenaline dump.

      Thank you for this, the timing of it, and for your honesty and really obvious joy in your daughter (mine is 4, and the light of my life, but 4 is my least favorite age, holy cow)

      Reply
      • KZS

        I also had friends whose 3-year-old was caught gnawing on a dishwasher detergent tablet. When they called Poison Control, their first question was what brand. Evidently, they must have had the “safe” brand, because they were instructed as you were to have him drink.

        My son (who is almost 16) never got into the antics that my daughter did. So when she came along, I was unprepared for the things she would do. My son never once attempted to climb out of his crib. In fact, he continued to sleep in it until it was time for his sister to take over. She, however, figured out how to climb out at around 18 months old, the same age when she also figured out how to unlatch the 5-point harness on her car seat! She and I were in a minivan and I was stopped at a red light — all of a sudden, she comes walking up to me! The little stinker.

        Glad to hear your son is okay, and kudos to you for remaining calm (something I have a hard time doing). Tank you, ladeee. ;)

        Reply
        • Marina Radcliff

          I so feel you on the difference in the way 2 related children’s can be. My daughter Arabelle does/did certain things, and we go used to them and now Rowan is busting out All New All The Time things that could possibly kill him. It’s fraught. Good thing our children love us and are cute, otherwise I’m pretty sure we’d eat them. Thank you! :)

          Reply
      • Aerieowl

        When my daughter was about 1 and a half she climbed over the baby gate and fell head first on the concrete floor. She had a concussion. I was sitting on the couch paying bills and watched it all happen. I put her in her room for her nap and my daughter always fought sleep so I had to let her cry herself to sleep. It was her nap time. We went to the er and I sat with her covered in vomit rocking her. She was OK. It was so scary though. I was trying so hard not to cry and be strong especially when they were trying to strap her down to do an mri. They never got one.

        Reply
        • Marina Radcliff

          Omg, so much love to you for having to go through that. My daughter had to have stitches in her chin. Holding her down while she fought me/us was a special kind of horrid.

          Reply
  10. Amy Heague

    I’m both laughing and crying. I can totally relate. dropping the baby, leaving it at home, locking a child in my grandmas house as we all left for lunch, forgetting to pick up a kid from school, closing all the doors between the screaming baby and the furthest corner in our garden, where I sat and cried until my husband came home from work…..they are all still alive, there are days where I wondered if I’d survive…… you are doing a champion job. xxxx

    Reply
  11. Ami Tain

    My Oldest boy is named Ash. He’s almost 3 now, but when he was 5 or 6 months old, he was starting to get really mobile. We had a little bouncy chair that I used to put him in and set him just outside the bathroom so I could take a shower. He was buckled in and I thought everything was fine. When I came out he was face down with the chair on top of him. He hadn’t started crying yet so I (still) hope that it hadn’t been long. He’d flipped himself completely over and took the chair with him. When I saw him like that and not crying I was terrified that he’d done that and suffocated himself somehow. I was naked and dripping and hugging him to me… still attached to the chair. At least the baby didn’t die.

    And I have totally accidentally shoplifted. Once and entire bunch of bananas. I was in a hurry and ran in, grabbed them, and ran back out. I didn’t realize it until I was already back home.

    Reply
  12. RiverVox

    Are there any babies out there who have not fallen at some point? My oldest went headfirst off the bed and was stuck between the bookcase and the box spring. My other daughter flipped off the changing table, but thankfully landed on a soft rug. Nobody died but I remember that terror. And being so worried about their safety that I couldn’t sleep or think and there they are happily eating cat food and playing with a wall socket. Ash can’t crawl yet, can he? It’s a whole new world of excitement.

    Reply
    • billh

      Speaking as a fallen baby I can say that sometimes everything works out just fine, other than a strange shaped head when I eventually finish the balding process….

      Reply
    • Amanda Palmer

      he’s just starting to grab shit and i can see the portal of hell that awaits me. i’m trying to combat it by carrying him around and LETTING him touch everything. here’s a knife handle! here’s a glass! here’s a frying pan handle! but if i’m holding him, he’s not in as much trouble. i know what’s coming. i know it’ll be a thing. i know. i know.

      Reply
      • Shaiyela Hornung

        We didn’t baby proof much with any of our kids. Medicines went higher and hot stuff is watched, obviously…but kids are fully capable of being taught what they can and cannot touch. I love a kid that wants to touch stuff, as long as they listen too. I hope Ash is like that!

        Reply
      • Sue mey

        its awesome that you allow him to touch all of it.

        In Montessori it is encouraged to have them use glass and cutlery when they start to wean at their weaning table. They don’t need a high chair unless is an adaptive one like the Tripp trapp from stokke that encourages independence

        Reply
      • Heather Minter

        I’m with you on not baby-proofing all the corners and shit. I mean, get a grip. But when I had a three year old and the twins walked at nine months I was losing my child-loving mind. And it’s a miracle they made it through. But Elliot has been standing by the stove and learning about fire since he could stand. An now he is six and can build and feed and put out a fire and cook himself eggs. So, you’re on the right track with teaching! Ours all handle sharp knives all the time.

        Reply
      • .ara Joan Nokomis

        have you checked out “the Continuum Concept”? basically it takes a village to raise a child….i trust you have one, cos when they start moving, they can move incredibly fast, & time warps….i tell ya….you need more eyes supporting you & him….

        Reply
      • Dawn

        I had an early crawler and adept climber. I was out front cutting the lawn one time to see him, inside the front window, holding a 10in chef knife he had to have climbed up on the kitchen counter to get, and then holding it in the living room when I saw him. Looking back, quickly abandoning the lawn mower and dashing in may have caused a sudden movement on his part that may have not ended well, but thankfully it didn’t. Yes, these things happen. He’s 15 and alive.

        Reply
    • Michelle

      I apparently launched myself out of my high chair and bonked myself so hard my forehead bled profusely, but don’t even have a scar to show for it today. I was also the teeniest, tiniest baby, so my poor mom probably thought she had killed me. As far as I know, I am not any worse off for having fallen on my head.

      Reply
      • alphatroll

        I suspect that there may not be a single person alive who didn’t fall on their head as an infant. Who knows, it may be neccessary for survival! I mean, isn’t it at least conceivable that a never-injured skull would eventually collapse without that stimulus to harden properly? Makes sense to me! ;)

        Reply
        • Marina Radcliff

          Wolffs law (iirc) states that impact strengthens bones. So obviously you are right about this because science.

          Reply
    • Rachel

      My sister literally LEAPT out of her crib and went straight to the floor before anyone could react. She’s fine… Most days ;P

      Reply
    • Leonie Dawson

      My moment was the one where my 4 year old daughter catapulted her 6 week old baby sister from her rocker… face first into a metal fence and then concrete. She was okay by some miraculous luck. Two years on, I can still hear and see it all.

      Reply
  13. Megan Dunbar

    My baby fell face first of the couch and gave himself a blood nose when he was about 4 months old. My partner and I were actually holding him in place at the time, but he just kind of toppled forward. He did the same thing when he was 3 when sitting on a kitchen chair. Turns out, he is very clumsy and prone to smacking his head/face on things. He is 9 now. There will be more blood, I’m sure.

    Reply
  14. Val Blaha

    Oh my gosh… love, love, love this song! My son is 8 now, and I had all sorts of similar crazy mom moments. (Crazy Mom-ments?) The worst was when I tossed my son to the ground. Explanation: I was walking out our front door with him in my arms. It involves stepping down a rather tall step onto a wood deck. Stepping onto the deck, my ankle rolled, and somehow D (I think he was about 5-6 months old at the time) basically flew out of my arms and landed several feet away. Luckily he missed both the rest of the deck, and the large step stone just beyond, and landed in the bark/softer ground. My husband was standing about 5 feet away, but the whole thing happened so fast that he couldn’t react. Our son was just fine, but I was left in ruins the rest of the day. Sort of like the time he fell off a curb when I was like 6 inches away and couldn’t quite react. To this day (and the most recent time was 2 nights ago at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall in Portland, OR), whenever he is near the edge of something tall, I get this weird chill than runs through my body as I worry about him falling. Pretty sure that will keep happening the rest of our lives. Oh yeah, there was also the time when he was about 14 months old when he managed to push himself over in his high chair. Whole thing went over backwards, baby and all. There was a particularly terrifying moment when his eyes seemed to roll back in his head, and I was sure he must have broken his neck. Then he started screaming, we grabbed him (of course we were feet away, but couldn’t act quickly enough), and he was perfectly fine, just startled and scared. As we all were. Sigh. At least the baby didn’t die. And thank you for yet another wonderful Thing. xoV

    Reply
  15. Johanna de Verdier

    I usually cry when I see other people cry but it now seems that I’m also crying from reading/listening to songs about other people crying.

    Reply
  16. Emily J

    Oh man. I was making my lunch while I listened to this and just alternately laughing and crying and laughing and crying and I’m not even a mom. (yet?????) I’m going to send this to my mom because I think she will like it.

    Reply
  17. Kimberly Parker

    I had a “caught in mid-air, inches from the floor” incident, an “drove directly to work with baby, forgetting to stop at daycare to drop him off” moment (which could have easily turned into a “left him in the car all day while at work” moment if not for glancing in the rear view before I got out) and SO many others.
    Keeping them alive and making them feel loved: Those are our main jobs. If you can say you did those at the end of a day (week? Month?) you can call yourself a successful parent.

    Reply
  18. KZS

    Oh yeah – also, when my son was a newborn and got sick… I called the pediatrician’s office and they recommended I give him some infant Tylenol. I realized a while after I gave it to him, that my sleep-deprived new mommy brain accidentally gave him THREE TIMES the amount I was supposed to. Talk about panic…

    But he’s almost 16 years old now. And that baby didn’t die.

    Reply
  19. Sarah Forster

    Amazing. I cried and laughed, probably at the right times. Everything makes sense, and I had so many bad moments. One of my worst was when I honked a driver because I thought he ran a roundabout wrongly, then he followed me all the way to my breastfeeding clinic to haul me out on it and I told him I was confused because my 2-month-old was crying in the back – he wasn’t because he had fallen asleep, but it freaked him out enough to leave me the f**k alone so I could wake my sleeping baby and take him in to the clinic and learn why i was failing at breast-feeding. Who follows somebody who honks them. He said it stressed him out. I was just happy he wasn’t a gang member, because that was the part of town I was in. Anyway. He survived babyhood, sometimes to my surprise, and is now a big 5-year-old at school.

    Reply
  20. Melissa Smith Kennedy

    I was laughing and crying at the same time. This is motherhood, right here, in all its messy, ridiculous glory.

    Reply
  21. Gareth Skarka

    (Saw your Patreon request about posting parental anecdotes here, so I’m re-posting this from Patreon):

    Just wiping away some tears — when my youngest child (my son) was an infant, I got up too fast while holding him. I hadn’t had enough sleep, and I was in bad shape, and I blacked out (blood pressure thing), and fell. WHILE HOLDING HIM. He was brand new, and I was convinced that I’d killed him.

    Of course, I hadn’t. He was fine, and he’s now 21. But listening to this song brought that god-awful moment of dread rushing back to me, all sense-memory-stylee.

    So yeah, every parent has those WHAT THE FUCK — WHY DID ANYBODY LET ME HAVE A BABY? moments.

    Reply
  22. Emsy

    My daughter once offered me a bite of her apple… I made a big show of taking a HUGE, BOISTEROUS, CHOMP… unfortunately her finger was in the way!! The look of horror on her face as my teeth sunk into her tiny 2 year old finger (“How could you HURT me Mummy?!) the shocked silence and then the HOWL of pain.
    Oh God – we BOTH cried! :/
    And then there’s the 100+ times she fell off the bed/couch/chair when we should have been watching. The 1,000+ times I bumped her head on the car door when lifting her into her carseat. The times I dropped my phone or a book on her head whilst breastfeeding her, not to mention the pasta sauce/jam/crumbs. The time I filmed her going down the slide and kept the camera steady as she faceplanted into the tanbark at the bottom (where ARE my lioness reflexes?!)
    OH and the time I fell down the front steps with her in my arms… heading out to our first MATERNAL CHILD HEALTH appointment!!
    The time she fell asleep on a long drive and I was so focused on ‘getting there’ that I let her sleep and didn’t stop to change her nappy… and she ended up with a rash. The time she just. wouldn’t. sleep. and I was running on 2 hours myself and I shouted at her until she cried. And then I cried. The time I broke my own rule and took the stroller on an escalator – the first and only time – only to have the wheel catch at the bottom sending her flying off the end and me on top of her. Luckily she was fine…
    The list of terrible mother moments could continue forever and ever!
    But I have a list of awesome mother moments at LEAST twice as long, so I figure I’m still ahead! ;)

    Reply
  23. Lisa Bonnice

    Here’s my “almost killed the baby” story. My daughter was a few months old when I was lifting her and tossing her up onto my shoulder. I tossed too hard and she flew right over. She was sailing over my shoulder, on her way to floor behind me, when I just happened to catch her foot at the last possible moment. I pulled her back up by the foot, with her wailing the whole time, and said pretty much the same thing you said, Amanda. At least the baby didn’t die.

    Reply
  24. Susan Williams

    relating to this 100%, I accidentally stole a nail varnish remover from a store as my baby was starting to get fractious and I’ve been so paranoid about her falling over in my bed. She’s rolling around a lot now at almost 7 months so I imagine Ash wont be too far behind her with that. I’ve found that they’re a lot more resilient than they look. Also, blankets magically switch all the time.

    Reply
    • Janelle

      Baby Me accidentally stole a candy bar. My dad was in a drug store and they’re right at perfect baby-in-stroller height, so I just took one. He didn’t realize until my mom asked why he’d bought me candy, then he went and paid for it.

      Reply
  25. Diane Paranque

    I don’t know what to say. I’m french, so it’s hard to speak in english and find the good words. Beautiful Song. When I had my little girl, who is almost 8 years old now (and still alive !), the first weeks, the first months, I remember I was often thinking : “Au moins, elle a survécu jusque là” (at least, she survived until today). However I don’t remember many incidents (except when we forgot to attach her in the car, she was 2 years old, I remember I put her in her car seat, but I had to get back in our flat, I forgot something. When I came back, I thought his father harness the seatbelt, but he thought I had… We noticed our mistake when we arrived and stopped the car. Luckily, we didn’t crash…) , but culpability and stress are in our DNA…

    And when I had my little boy, who is 2 years old now, I was much more relax. But… I have a friend, who had twins (boy and girl) when I had my boy. And his little boy died when he was one month old. :’( So I was touched, and I’m sure my love for this little one is bigger (if it’s possible) because of this story. And I did it again, I was thinking every day : “At least, he’s alive !”… Thank you for this song…

    Reply
  26. revsparker

    Two quick stories: First, guilt-in-advance: when I brought my son home from the hospital, I sat in the rocker with him, crying inconsolably because I knew I would be the first person to hurt him. It was this deep, existential dread and I knew there was no avoiding it. Also, hormones. Then, when he was about six months old, I was carrying him and he caught sight of the phone cord (remember those? the curly ones were baby crack…) he dove for it and I caught him by the arm, dislocating his elbow. I was sure that the doctors would turn me in and they’d take my baby away. Instead, they said, “See it all the time. Nursemaid’s elbow. You probably saved him a head injury…” Then there was the time he drove his big wheel down the stairs. Oh, and I didn’t find out until he was 16 that at age 4 he road his bike down to the railroad tracks to watch trains. Mind you, the railroad tracks were at least a mile away! And I never even knew about it. I thought I was keeping a close eye on him out the window… shit that was more than two quick stories. And that’s just the beginning.

    Reply
  27. Treadpath

    This reminds me of the first year we had a baby, and every night my husb& and I would congratulate each other on keeping the baby alive for another day. It also reminds me of when I was trying to cut her nails to keep her from scratching herself and it was, like, Day 3 of having a baby and I was exhausted and crazy and accidentally cut the skin of her thumb with the stupid blue baby nailclippers with the dumb cloudy magnifying glass that doesn’t really work on it… and it bled and she cried and I cried and felt horrible because I had this perfect thing and it was only 3 days before I broke it. I don’t know who needs more therapy about that injury, her or me (probably me), but I’m hoping that taking her to your concerts redeems me a bit as a parent. :)

    Reply
    • Amanda Palmer

      both neil and i have chopped his fingers while cutting. NOW I USE A NAIL FILE. i have to do it every day…but no blood. i can’t stand the blood. xxx

      Reply
      • Riley Johnson

        My wife Rachel is very sneaky and cuts our little one’s nails while he’s sleeping (or files them). I am too chickenshit to do either. xoR.

        Reply
      • Redd Hynes

        We used to just bite Ashs fingernails when he was a baby. No blood! Nail file is an awesome idea though!

        Reply
        • alphatroll

          …that’s BRILLIANT! There’s this foundation in Stockholm that gives out annual prizes for great ideas like that, I really think you should look into it.

          Reply
      • Elan Auman

        I used a nail file on my daughter, but for my son, I’m using clippers. I think I’ve gotten more confident, maybe? Which is good because his nails grow SO fast.
        I did cut my daughters lip open strapping her into her car seat when she was a baby though. She squirmed and I had the clasp too high and when I snapped it it got her lip. My husband was so pleased because he didn’t make the baby bleed first O_o

        Reply
      • Marina Radcliff

        after doing the same thing to my daughter (ugh ugh ugh) I just started peeling them. The nails are so flimsy (even though they can scratch the hellz out of their own faces) they just kind of….work off, if you worry at them while you’re snuggling and they’re sleeping. I know some mothers who bite their baby’s nails – which has a squik factor for me, but might be sort of cosmically relevant in the whole using parts of your body to maintain a thing you made with your body? but if you have to stretch that hard for cosmic relevance you’re p….babble stop. Thank you for writing this.

        Reply
    • Kathy Vickers

      I always use an adult (mens) nail clipper on the kids – big enough to get the nails all in one go. Daft things designed “for baby’s delicate fingers” are useless

      Reply
    • Marguerite

      Oh my god, I forgot about a similar moment. I cut our third child’s nails in the hospital and accidentally cut one finger. The nurse filed a REPORT and the hospital and our doctor had to investigate. I had had a c-section and didn’t catch on right away what was going on. Our pediatrician was pissed on my behalf, though. It is surely not my worst parenting oops, but so far it is the only one investigated. LOL

      Reply
    • alphatroll

      Yes, taking your kid to AFP shows automatically makes you an awesome parent. I’m almost positive I learned that unquestionable fact from some extremely reliable source or other.

      Reply
  28. Chad Walker

    I’m not a parent, nor will I be one. But this… this is exactly why I love Amanda and support the Patreon. I’ve never cried and laughed so much while listening to a song. Or even just thinking about the song. Thank you.

    Reply
  29. Deb Easy-Tiger Batterham

    Oh hun, all parents have been there! I remember feeling like a failure constantly during that first 6 months. I couldn’t keep basic simple things in my brain at all – I too accidentally stole things, got lost, almost left my son in strange places several times, and a few times I had to just put him on the floor safely and go outside for a cry over it all. Those first 6 sleep deprived months are a crazy highly anxious fog of everyone just trying to survive. and you’re all alive! so you’re winning! AWESOME WORK. It gets way easier. Or at least, you get more sleep and they get more independent and able to take care of themselves – which to me feels easier!

    Reply
  30. B

    i know it’s hard to be a parent
    but my flaws are so gigantic
    …i wonder if i should have had a child

    Beautiful.

    Just wait until he starts crawling/walking… so many bumps and bruises.

    All parents have these stories. We’re humans raising humans and somehow our species goes on.

    Reply
  31. Danella Carter

    The only reason I have never accidentally left my babies in the car is that I don’t have one (a car, that is). However, my oldest has faceplanted off the sofa more times than I can count (it’s about a foot off the ground, she was fine).
    I’ve been pretty lucky (so far, touch wood) with the accidental parenting related mishaps… just one visit to a & e so far, and that was for a really silly reason (ingrowing eyelash, I worried it would get infected, they were very nice about it)…

    Reply
  32. KathyM

    Yepp, dropped, locked in the house, the drinking from the mini Purell bottle, it’s all happened. And then there was that time I gave my 7-month-old kid a sealed packet of peanut m&m’s to hold for entertainment on the way home from the grocery store. Dude sucked that bag right open and got his first taste of food coloring and chocolatey goodness. I found him with orange all over his face and an m&m on his tongue. Thank all the gods he didn’t choke. Also, he didn’t take any naps that afternoon :-) (Sounds like you’re loving your baby madly and figuring it out as you go, pretty much like all of us. Welcome to motherhood, it’s a crazy and wonderful ride.)

    Reply
  33. Heather Mann Taylor

    My 2 year old son fell off of a wooden chair and busted the back of his head open. Blood everywhere, soaked through my shirt and bra. I was standing next to him but couldn’t catch him just right. Also, when he was a few weeks old, I forgot to put the nipple on the bottle and poured the milk on his face and he got choked. And I’ve forgotten to buckle my kids in the car seat. Twice. But…at least they didn’t die.(I had anxiety attacks for about two weeks after he fell. I couldn’t get the image out of my head. And that I couldn’t catch him.)

    Reply
  34. Heather

    So, I never left him in the car alone, but when my son was about 5 months old, I forgot to buckle him into the car seat. I had taken the car seat inside, because sleeping baby, and he was chilling in it at the end of our visit, and therefore unbuckled. It didn’t take long before I noticed, but it was at least a few miles when I happened to look back and saw him half hanging off the side.

    Also- every year on his birthday I buy myself fancy champagne to celebrate the fact that we haven’t had any hospital visits (yet, knick on wood).

    Reply
    • Janelle

      I shared a similar story about my brother over on the Patreon–he was older, about two, and my mom forgot to buckle the carseat in. I’m not sure if she realized it before or after the seat fell over with him in it.

      Reply
    • Robin Stewart

      This sort of happened with my first kid. He was buckled into the car seat but the car seat wasn’t buckled in the car. The first stop we made I heard a weird noise but kept going. Then we turned and the seat went rolling in the back seat! Luckily the kid was six months or so and thought it was hilarious and was laughing his brains out. Scary for me though haha.

      Reply
  35. ALittleBitOfSomething

    My son, now 11, was nine months old. It was his dad’s birthday and we were at an apartment with stone floors. I was terrified, but my son wanted to play with the two dogs so I put him on the floor. It was fine until he climbed onto the dog bed and there was a puppy pile and my baby got pushed out onto his forhead — he looked up at me and, in slow motion, this HUGE swelling. I’m almost positive I cried more than my son did!
    Thanks for sharing; whenever my friends call me, “Ms TMI”, I point them (lovingly, of course) in your direction.
    I am really enjoying AoA which I would not have if you hadn’t reposted my request on Twitter. I got a book and a really cool online almost-friend. :)

    Reply
  36. Stephanie Brockway

    Hi Amanda! My second son fell down the basement stairs in his walker when he was about 7 and a half months old. By far, the most terror I have ever experienced! And the reason it happened? I was pissed off at my husband and was storming around the kitchen, frantically cleaning things, then put the broom away in the stairwell and left the door open, not paying any attention to my little Sammy rolling around the floor. An ambulance ride, emergency room visit, overnight stay and fractured skull later, he was okay. Thank GOD. The doctors told us that if anyone can survive a fractured skull, it’s a baby. Their little heads and brains are still quite pliable. We got interviewed by DSS, which was horrifying, and they also interviewed our pediatrician. Oy. But it all ended up fine! Sammy is now 18, transgender (Sunny instead of Sammy), a straight-A student, and wicked talented drummer and saxophone player who just had her audition at Berklee. There have been many parenting transgressions in my almost-22-years of parenting. But both kids turned out!!!! (You’ve actually met my first born, Ben, a few times. He helped film one of Anthony’s readings in Cambridge a couple of years ago. One of the best nights of his life!!! He loves you.) Hugs to you, Neil and wee Ash.

    Reply
  37. Lea Docks

    Love it… but a warning and lesson in the song. Like any new venture, in motherhood we are all flawed at the start and doubtful of our skills (fraud parent police ahoy..). Shame helps no-one, but you can and do learn to mend your parent flaws because you just farkin HAVE TO. Like the woman at the end
    of the song, it’s so easy to loose/break your baby
    FOREVER (sorry, emphasis). And it’s good to remember that – always. It’s a great song and relate-able, but when this stuff happens it is also a kick in the ass to tighten up, and we need to embrace that kick to make us better. The same thing has happened to others and baby did die, or was brain damaged etc. I know of a heart-breaking one – Mum is a head nurse, baby got a temp and she waited a little to take him to hospital. Turns out it was a virus, the vital seconds mattered and her son now has brain damage. She never even dropped him once. This happens, and it’s so vital that those of us who get lucky treasure that second chance. To share (*hugs*) I got lucky too, my daughter and i were playing on the bed, and she took off before i could grab her and crawled off the bed head-first (only a foot drop, and she was about 7-9months and big). Has never done it since, she is fine (thank christ) and her little brother never fell, made sure i learned. But my parents nearly lost him at a park, just chatting and he was gone in 10sec. Found him, but i’m rattled now – they have experience and still nearly blew it.

    I learned you can slide and chill when you know your kids and your own limits (dye your hair in bar bathrooms etc, it’s all cool as long as you KNOW you’ve got it), but half the fun and terror of kids is that they endlessly surprise you when the suddenly get new skills every day. My little 2c, please stay wild, be free, FORGIVE yourself, but DO take every lesson from the universe on the way. The best middle ground i have found is to play the games, listen, laugh, read, build the epic blanket forts, watch the late night movies etc with your kids they way you always wanted your parents to do – but grow those 100 Argus eyes and be the big fun parent who is also the safety net they need. Love you and your art AMFP – you’ve got this. Peace to you & Ash!!!

    Reply
  38. john usher

    I always tell my son that he bounces because he kind of did. He slept in a carry cot by our bed for his first few months and one night I picked him up, both hands, and he did a little wiggle, and I dropped him. He dropped maybe a foot-foot and a half back into the cot, did a little bounce and I caught him. Then I went hysterical. “Ohmygodohfuckchristi’vebrokenthebabyi’vefuckingbrokenthebaby.” My wife tried to calm me and checked the baby over, he wasn’t crying which, of course, was worse, but he seemed to be fine. I wasn’t though, I was going to be a house husband, my wife was going back to work, there was no way a clumsy, stupid idiot like me could look after a baby, I was only 23 myself, I WAS JUST A KID! MELTDOWN! Anyway, I got over it eventually, but there were other, scarier things.
    I’m a daydreamer which isn’t great when you are in charge of a pram with a soft squidgy human in it. Far too many times I have found myself in town, half a mile or more from home, several dangerous road crossings later, with no clear idea of how I got there. No idea if I had looked both ways or used pedestrian crossings.
    Anyway, my son’s 19 now and as I always tell him if he questions my parenting, “i haven’t managed to kill you yet,” which is the main thing.

    Reply
  39. DCHIPapa

    Well I was in pieces from about half way through. This could so easily be a longer piece with crowd sourced lyrics. We’ve all got something to confess – when we fucked up, or snapped as a parent. I got a verse about smacking my girls which wrote itself. Just the one time, and I’ll go to my grave thinking I’m a monster for that. But they didn’t die, right. Right?

    Reply
  40. B

    Here is a story to make you feel better. I’m sitting in the rocker nursing one of my five weeks old twins. My husband has just changed the diaper of our other twin. He tells me to be careful about leaving in the oversized ottoman as he’s learned he can push himself with his legs. My husband then proceeds to get up and leave him on the ottoman. I look down at the baby in my arms and hear this wailing and ask my husband where the baby is. He pushed himself off the ottoman… on to the floor.

    If you’re ever in Phoenix, I’ll make you some tea and we can share mothering stories.

    Reply
  41. Graeme Sladden

    First of all I loved the song and it felt just right. But now I must confess, and I will confess to just this one thing but it surely is
    the worst I have ever felt as a parent or in any other capacity really. Alexander, my oldest of 3 children was 4 years old and it was just his brother Rhys and myself in the house. Rhys was asleep and Alex was in serious need of a bath and
    we were all just doing fine, when all of a sudden I really need to go to the toilet. I think to myself he will be fine for a second while I dash to the
    toilet and just as I was finishing I found out I was wrong. He had fallen and bitten through his tongue to the point where it was almost no longer attached. I try my hardest to pull myself together but I’m not doing too great at it, I know what I need to do but I’m crippled with worry and then the front door opens and my wife Peta is home and she takes charge just enough so I can get my shit together and get Alex to the hospital. It was a long day and plenty of other crazy things happened after that and on other days besides but that was the moment I went to when I heard this song. I got teary but more out of love than anything else, he didn’t die, his tongue is still all there and I just keep on learning.

    Reply
  42. lynnaschaefer

    That is a beautiful blanket. Helen and Sidney are beautiful. I especially adore how Sidney is looking at Helen. Thank you for sharing them with us. Helen is right. Say “I love you” all the time. You really never know.
    I cried like a mother listening to this song. Especially the second time. I have three mostly grown children. I’ve been worrying about them dying ever since I got pregnant the first time. I mean, they ARE going to die, but I very selfishly worry about them dying BEFORE I DIE. My brother died before my mother died and it just about killed her. And yeah. It’s just. Too awful. And I realize it happens to moms, all the time, like every day. I’m a member of the group “The Addict’s Mom” and nearly every day someone posts about another young person, someone’s child, dying. It’s too horrible.
    And yeah, I have all kinds of mothering fuck-up stories too. What mother doesn’t? I’ve left the baby in the car, forgotten to pick up the toddler from school, over protected, allowed way too much sugar, didn’t lay down the law strongly enough about drugs, unhealthy relationships, etc., forgotten to keep on top of dentist appointments, therapy appointments, etc., etc., etc.
    Also trying to stay at peace inside. It is damn hard in the relative sense. Easier in the absolute.
    Thanks for this thing, Amanda. For your vulnerability and lying honesty. I love you.

    Reply
  43. EstherCW

    Not a parent yet, but an informal sort of foster mom to two kids whose mother is seriously unwell.
    I consider the youngest mine in all but blood and this song comforted me because I still feel guilt about having exposed him to horrible danger through my negligence. About 5 years ago I was taking him and his older sister to the park (they were 2 and 5) and because it was early and I’m a night person I just couldn’t keep my eyes open. I was almost literally sleepwalking along the sidewalk with a child holding each hand and when I managed to somewhat open my eyes I saw that I’d wandered so close to the curb that my beloved 2 year old was actually walking down on the very very busy road! It could only have been for a few seconds, but it scared my heart awake and terrified me about what I might do when I have my own kids full time.
    As long as we’re confessing, recently I asked this boy of (nearly) mine to get the cutting boards from the kitchen right at the same time as his sister was getting her cup of just-poured tea from the counter above the cutting board shelf. I know better than to let near boiling liquids be in the vicinity of mobile children but I didn’t ask her to wait until he was out of the way in time and the dish rack that had been drying upright slid forward knocking the mug out of her hand and spilling all over his pants. The next hours while he was in pain were the worst of my life. Then the doctor’s visit was worse. He is fully recovered now but I don’t think the guilt will ever go away.
    Thanks for reminding me that at least he didn’t die. He’s about to turn 7 now and he couldn’t be smarter or more adorable!

    Reply
  44. Maria Lynn Adkinson

    Before I had babies, I saw an ad for a baby helmet and thought it was the most ridiculous thing I ever saw but now that I have babies, I want/need the helmet, the baby leashes, and a big clear hamster ball to put them in!!! I have 2 and between them, they have fallen off of everything!!! But they are fine! Happy, Healthy, well adjusted kids. P.S. babies are bouncy, it’s almost as if someone made them that way because they knew they would fall off of things!

    Reply
  45. Lesley Kimball

    I love this song so much! I am the baby in my family (by a lot!) and I’m grateful I got to watch siblings not kill any of their children (despite so many opportunities) before I had my own. I came into parenthood with a very healthy sense that babies and kids are extraordinarily resilient. Of course I still wonder all the time why on earth anyone let me leave the hospital with a baby!

    Reply
  46. Thiefree

    I worry that my choice to not have kids will alienate me from human moments like these. Like, every female ancestor of mine has had a baby since the dawn of time. I’m scared for what it means if I remove myself from that line. I think that’s why it means so much, my heart stopped when I heard his voice, and if you put Ash in my arms I’m certain I would cry while smiling.

    Reply
  47. graymalking

    It has been one year and one month since I’ve become a mother. It has been hard. The whole of the last year was.
    My daughter was born in her father’s hometown (we live in another town. About 400km away) and were staying at my mother-in-law. The day came to drive back home and we all left the building with the last things to load up the car, and then she asks “where’s the baby?” We had forgotten her in her car seat on the dining table. She was two weeks.
    One day I was just so tired that I decided to just sayt in bed with her. I ended up deep in sleep and woke up to a thud and her crying. She had fallen off the bed. She was six months.
    In September we adopted a kitten, a rescue that had been found in a rubish bin with her sibilings, and we were having trouble training her to use the litter. She pooped anywhere but the litter box. One day, I put my daughter on her crib to do do something for a second and when I turn back to look at her, she was eating a handfull of cat poop. I was in panic and torn between calling the doctor or not, because I thought she was going to give me a lecture about how I should pay more attention. I didn’t call the doc. The baby didn’t get sick from eating poop.
    She’s still alive.

    Reply
  48. Gabby Gilliam

    I haven’t had a chance to read through all of the footnotes yet, but just listened to the song. Every new parent should listen to this. It’s like an anthem for parenthood. We’ve all done these things, and cried about them, and felt incredibly guilty afterward. Having a baby fries your brain and alters priorities in such a way that’s it’s amazing any of us can still lead a normal adult existence. I agree with RiverVox that crawling adds a whole new element of surprise to your life. Shit gets real once they get mobile. Thank you for sharing this. I love it, and I wish that new-mom me had had something like this to comfort her when she made all of the mistakes she thought would ruin her kid’s life forever. He’s four and a half now and doing just fine! Give Ash a big kiss for me. Let him know we’re all very glad the baby didn’t die. <3

    Reply
  49. Damian Masterson

    My son turned one at the beginning of this month and I don’t have my big bad parent story yet. I know I’m not super dad. It’s just luck and timing, but I know it’s coming.

    We’ve had little hiccups, though. He slipped out of my grip once while I was giving him a bath and sat hard enough on his butt to get a nasty bruise. I felt bad about that, but I’ll cut myself some slack on that one that there wasn’t anything I could have done. I had a good grip on him. He just flailed in a novel way I wasn’t prepared for.

    However, once while I was napping him I stretched with him in my arm to grab my headphones and when I settled back I managed to bang his head on the edge of a desk. He didn’t appreciate that at all. 100% my fault. No mitigating excuses I could make to myself, particularly because of how trivial and unnecessary what I was trying to do was.

    Those are little things, though. I take deathly serious that it’s my job to keep my little guy safe and to be a better parent than I got, but I know there are limits to vigilance and someday I’m going to have my story or stories of when I messed up bad. It terrifies me, but I know that it’s part of what I signed up for.

    Reply
  50. InRandomOrder

    My beloved Amanda. “Mamma kiss an’ make it better” is made manifest no other way. I feel and taste the flavor of that power within the energy of this song. To embody that power is a Rite of Passage |/ Welcome to the first Sisterhood |/ My sons are 38&40. I still cry, my dear; for when they’re grown,*all* children … become our children. We don’t chase after them shoving cookies into their hands, but they know Us. They smile at us in the grocery, or in the park: and we smile back. With each bead we sew or piece we paint/quill/sculpt each bean we snap or meal we cook and then perpetually clean, becomes our Living Prayer for all our children. When that happens, we can’t cry for laughing. You’ve made it beautiful without making it sappy. I am so fucking proud, happy, teary eyed to be part of your process, and for the privilege of watching it unfold. Thank you for reading. (@Ahnweyodah)

    Reply
  51. Coleen

    I leapt out of my dad’s arms when I was six months old. They didn’t find the break for three days. Swear, I turned out fine! You couldn’t tease my dad about it until a few years ago, though. (I’m 41.)

    Reply
  52. Diana Devlin

    The paramedics said it was impossible. But the baby DID swallow that penny I accidentally dropped in her crib.
    The time I was so exhausted from cluster feeding that, once I finally slept, I dreamed that I dropped my son down a bottomless set of stairs. I woke up and ran to the bottom of the stairs.No baby. Much frantic crying and snuggling of baby who had been sound asleep in his crib.
    The time my son spiked a temp, and threw up on me, so I laid him on my bed and went to the bathroom to take off my pukey shirt and bra, and when I came back to check on him – 45 second later max – he was having a febrile seizure.
    Welcome to motherhood. Because you’re the one with him all the time, it’s all gonna be your fault. All of it.
    And hey. The babies didn’t die.
    They’re beautiful and rotten and 16 and 18 and don’t remember any of it.
    But I do. And keep these memories like badges of honour.

    Reply
  53. Robin Ruin

    My daughter is 9 now, and I dropped her once, when she was tiny. We had gone to sleep on the couch, with her on my chest, and I was so tired that when she rolled over on her own for the first time, she rolled right off my chest and onto the carpeted floor. She only cried for a second but I still carry that guilt and terror with me.
    Also, when I saw you at the Duke Center in Raleigh on your last tour, you played a cover song on the uke about being a mom and a musician and I cannot for the life of my remember who did it originally to find it again. Can anyone help?

    Reply
  54. Emster26

    Mine is about my nephew, and is evidence of a major reason in a long list of why I am child free by choice.

    I was intending to carry my then-one year old little man down the stairs. I was feeling confident, though my hands were full with other stuff and I was wearing a maxi dress. I saw that carpeted death trap and froze. There was no way we were going to make that journey upright. Luckily his mom was there with open hands to make a handoff. Unluckily, we botched the handoff. My hands were full, he squirmed the wrong way, and he hit the stairs. His head didn’t hit, and we caught him before he went down the stairs. He was crying, of course, but not too bad. I, on the other hand, was flipping the fuck out. I just dropped SOMEONE ELSE’S CHILD! And also, I’ve never been good around injured people. There was the time I slammed my brother’s hand in the van door, the time my dog got a bone stuck around her bottom jaw…I just start wailing, worse than the injured party, being more of a nuisance than a help, which is not my MO most times. My brother yelled at me, they brought the kid in to console me, I just kept crying. But he was fine, walking around and smiling.

    And then he didn’t really take to the whole talking thing until 3. I felt super guilty and worried for two years. But he’s good now – talking all the time, enunciating relatively clearly, a happy, normal four-year-old.

    Reply
      • Emster26

        That is reason number 2 for me. I cannot deal with fluids. Sympthetic puker, bad gag reflex. I feel bad every time I hand the kids off for poopy diaper changes, but the alternative is me ralphing all over them.

        Reply
    • Amanda Palmer

      i was there with my own. he was hurting and needed comforting…but i found myself sobbing and making things worse. he was crying, i was crying, everybody was just freaking out. i felt like the WORST mother. i’m getting over it. x

      Reply
      • Emster26

        After that experience, I realized that, while you do have to be careful, kids are not as breakable as you think. They bounce back FAST.

        Reply
  55. Dresden Linde

    I was in labor for a grand total of 10 days and 51 minutes. We had to stay in the hospital for a few extra days because of the baby’s jaundice. I had sworn up and down that I was going to follow of the “rules” (whatever those are….the fear of the Parenting-Police was/is VERY REAL.) I woke up do many times that first night to breastfeed. After 2 weeks of not really sleeping and what felt like constant nursing I was barely coherent, I don’t think that I actually qualified as a human. Anyway, one night, I fell asleep with the baby in bed. And he rolled out of our high bed, right onto the floor. What’s worse? I didn’t wake up. My husband woke up, turned on the light and was picking our son up off the floor before I even stirred.

    After that the two of us researched cosleeping and decided that we were going to give it a go. For sleeping sake. My son turned 3 in January. He still sleeps with me. He hasn’t rolled out of bed since and we’re both much better rested. But I’m still remember waking up and being horrified that I HADN’T woken up sooner.

    I spanked him once, when he was nearly 2. Because I thought that was how you were supposed to discipline. I bitterly regret it. The look on his face. The shock, hurt, betrayal. If I think about that moment too much….I can’t. I hate myself for it.

    I can think of million mistakes I’ve made in 3 years. And sometimes, looking back, they are all I can see. But today, when he woke up from his nap, he came racing into my arms, gave me a huge smile, nestled into my breasts and said, “Mama. I love you!! I love your best boobs!! When snow leave? Plant baby num nums? Plant a garden?”

    And I started crying. Because he’s not dead, and for now at least, he loves me.

    Reply
      • Dresden Linde

        You’re welcome. Thank you for this song. (It’s what finally made me take the Patreon plunge.)

        I’m grateful for a safe place to share these types of stories.

        Reply
        • Carla Martínez

          i’m here, working with emma (10 months) stuck on my boob. i have 3 other boys, 1 did die, but it had nothing to do with me and my lack of perfection on motherhood. i can barely breath, but they know i love them to death. i loved your story. thanks for sharing!

          Reply
          • Nicah

            I can’t even begin to imagine. All the best and much, much love to you, Carla.

  56. Tracy Chalker

    My Motherhood confession is about the daughter – now 24 – whom I took to the show to see you and Jason in Everett. When she was about 9 months old, crawling, I was helping my mother move out of her home. We were alone in an empty house, and all the door knobs had been removed from the exit doors to change the locks. Resting her on the floor to crawl in a huge empty space, I relaxed my guard. Of course the universe plants a quarter in her path, out of my eye-line, and of course she begins to choke. This is before cell phones were common, and I am locked in a house with no phone, no doors. I’m trying to fish it out, I am trying to Heimlich it out – nothing. I managed to kick open the front door while still beating her on the back trying to dislodge the quarter and ran screaming into the street for someone to call 911. She was turning blue. At the moment I got outside, screaming, and people started to look, she urped up the quarter, took a deep breath, and started to LAUGH. Everyone near me looked at me like I was insane, not knowing the terror of the last few moments. And this, my dear Amanda, is just one of many stories that make up the fabric of our childrens lives. In your case, Ash will get to hear his not only recounted, but sang along to, as he grows up, and will learn to love you just as you are – flawed, but ultimately loving and wonderful.

    Reply
  57. Jen Hackenholt Mont

    I don’t have words yet, but thank you as always. Also, I’m happy, overjoyed that as a patron in my small way I can help make this possible. Love to you!

    Reply
  58. Angela Rashida

    I was pulled over, not for speeding, but “driving erratically” because my screaming/crying infant freaked me the fuck out too. I am surprised they didn’t shoot me because the second I flung the car into park I lept out and into the back seat so I could manage my poor shrieking child. The entire incident was not very much appreciated by the cops. Ugh.

    Reply
      • Angela Rashida

        I mean for real. The kid is shrieking, and I slid into the backseat, clearly a new mom in hysterics, and the cops came up to the car with serious YOU ARE A DANGEROUS CRIMINAL eyes on me. They wouldn’t let me take her out of the car seat or anything. I think the one day with crying babies should also include driving with one so they understand better the hysterical new mother they’ve pulled over. But hey, the baby didn’t die. So we’re doing okay girl. (She’s two now and I think my hormones calmed down last week sometime. It’s good. Really, really good. <3 )

        Reply
  59. grumpyboat

    This speaks to me so strongly. The fears, the doubts, being so overwhelmed by it all…those early days are hard. I’ve watched my daughter fall off a dining table (that’s how she learnt about edges and gravity at a very young age, right after she learnt how to climb onto a table), fall off the bed, off a chair…but she’s okay. I’ve lost her in the house several times (she’s sneaky), and I also learnt the hard way that a toddler can fit out through a cat flap and make a break for it down the stairs. And that you shouldn’t underestimate their cognitive abilities, as she managed to unlock the gate on the veranda (which I was sure she wouldn’t be able to do), and made her way down the front stairs – concrete stairs, mind you – when she was barely 12 months old and had only walked UP the stairs once. When I realised she was missing AND that the front door AND gate were open, I was sure I’d find her dead at the bottom. She wasn’t, but the front gate was also open, so then I thought she’d gotten out and could’ve been anywhere up the road or in the creek behind the house. I was freaking right out. Cheeky bugger was looking at flowers down the side of the house. Strangely, she loves hearing the story of how she almost gave me a heart attack, now that she’s almost 9.

    It’s a beautiful song, and millions of parents will be able to relate.

    Reply
  60. Ami

    I have a 3 month old now, and a 22 month old, and a teenager out in the world. My toddler is constantly trying to off herself while I am nursing or holding the baby. The other day I found her cutting strawberries with a sharp paring knife after she wandered off for the 50th time that morning and I had a head cold. I should have checked on her faster. She’s fallen off the bed at least 5 times in her short life. A baby falling is a very common occurrence.

    On shopping with babies– I have two with me now and it’s a massive physical feat (or seems to be) just getting them in and out of the car and across a parking lot. I wear the baby in a Baby K’Tan or the Tula carrier while I push the toddler in the cart. I recommend wearing the baby in front of you while shopping with a cart and putting the seat in the stroller for clothing shopping, outdoor markets and malls. In a pinch you can change baby in the stroller/seat if the bathroom changing tables are gross looking. You can buy one of those giant clips to hold your bags on the stroller handle. When baby is big enough to sit in the shopping cart seat, you can get a lot of shopping done by opening a can of those Gerber cheese doodle things. We usually feed the babies organic, but those Gerber cheese doodle things are baby crack. Just keep feeding the baby every time they start to cry. My toddler is now totally conditioned to love shopping.

    Reply
    • Ami

      PS: I got two speeding tickets while pregnant this time. Both times with my toddler in the car. I was so exhausted that I had no idea how fast I was going. I have also smashed a mirror off my car after each pregnancy, while lacking sleep. It’s a wonder we are all still alive and I haven’t killed a pedestrian.

      Reply
  61. Jen

    Last year, about this time, I met you at a book signing in Tampa. I was with my 2 month old twins and we had driven from Missouri to visit their grandmother when I found out you’d be there. So we drove through Tampa on our way back from St. Augustine to see you. I got there early and we had forgotten something in the car so my boyfriend had to run back to get it while I stood awkwardly in front of the bookstore, wedged between a parking spot and a bush because I couldn’t get inside with my giant double stroller. Anyway, you and Neil pulled up in your car and went inside and even though I had driven 2 hours out of my way with 2 newborns to literally meet you, I got nervous and all I could do was muster a meek “hi”. Anyway, we stood in line for a couple hours and when I finally got inside to talk to you I managed to tell you about the babies and have you sign the books for them. You asked me how I was feeling and I said “fat”. And you kind of shrugged and said “oh”. I have been dwelling on this moment for a year. Why would I say that? What a weird thing to say, not just to someone who you admire, but to you. Feminist, armpit haired, free-willed Amanda Fucking Palmer. I love them, more than I ever thought I could love anything. But sometimes they make me feel completely insane. I feel like a completely different person than I was before I had them. I’ve lost so much of myself trying to make them into functioning humans. Even now, a year later, I feel like I’m living in someone else’s body. But I know that’s not important. They are important. But it feels important to me for some reason. Like maybe my life isn’t for me anymore. When they were about a week old, I was laying in bed, exhausted (from only getting half an hour of sleep a