"I'm having a nervous breakdown."
I press the phone to my ear while bouncing Sophie on my hip. Despite being 13 months old, she still cannot grasp how to squeeze her legs around my belly. Instead, she dangles like a broken rag doll, and I am always in the process of hoisting or almost dropping her.
"I'm two seconds away from losing my shit."
"That's not good," my mom coos. I hear a slurping sound.
"What are you doing? What is that?" I can feel my patience wearing thin, and it's not even 8 a.m.
"I'm having an Americano. It's not as hot as usual, though." She takes another deafening sip. "Maybe I should see if they could heat it up for me? Or just get another one? Extra hot? What do you think?"
"These are the decisions you ponder?"
"I need caffeine, Rea. It's very important."
"No shit. It's been two years since I've had a drop of caffeine. Or wine. And over a year since I've slept. So I win."
She laughs, ignoring my plight, and launches into a story about her and my father's failed attempt to grind coffee. "You should have seen us! We couldn't find the lid to the grinder, so coffee grounds went everywhere. Even the cats were trying to eat them! Can you imagine?"
I grit my teeth. If I don't, I will scream loud enough to shatter both her eardrums and Sophie's.
I am at my wit's end. All day, every day, for the last few months, I've been trampled, hit and screamed at by my daughter. I've lost count of how many times she's smacked me in the face or ripped my shirt down in public, pinching my nipples and turning them like faucets.
While I pride myself on a clean house, she defies me. She rips every novel I have from the bookshelf, tossing them in the bathtub or the open dishwasher. She unravels every roll of toilet paper, wrapping herself up like a vertically challenged mummy. She is clearly crazy.
As my mother goes on and on about what she and my father had for dinner, I ponder my choices. I could stab my eyes out with the utensils spread all over the countertop. If I couldn't see, perhaps Sophie would take pity on me? Or I could wrap the vacuum cord around my neck until I lose consciousness. Surely, my husband would find me before it's too late?
"Hello? Rea, are you there?"
I sigh, attempting to set Sophie down. She digs her talon-like fingernails into my thighs. She opens her mouth to scream and farts at the same time.
"Yes, I'm here, but I need to go. Sophie has to poop."
As I hang up the phone, Sophie wriggles free and takes off in a sprint toward her bedroom. I run after her, wrestling her flailing limbs to get her out of her diaper and onto the potty. The fact that I exercise six days a week doesn't even matter. This child is fucking strong.
I make the sign for "poop" and place her on the small white toilet. She kicks her heels against the white base, letting out a series of grunts.
"Mama. Hi, Mama," she says, smiling at me.
"Hi, Sophie." I stroke her hair, which is so long in front, it covers her eyes, nose and mouth. I need to cut her hair, but the thought of bringing scissors anywhere near her eyes makes me cringe. What if I accidentally cut her pupils or a nostril? What if she has to go through life disfigured because of me?
"Beso?" I ask her.
She leans in and deposits a soft, warm kiss on my lips; then on my forearm, my knee, and my bare foot. I clean her up and hold her tightly, crushing her sweet skin and sweaty hair against me.
How can I complain about this little creature who will only be small for such a short time? One day I'll look back and think, that wasn't so bad. And by then, I'll be so drunk or doped up on caffeine that it won't even matter.
I reach for one more hug as she takes off in the opposite direction. My husband comes in from our home office and collapses on her bed. Our daughter stuffs her toy kitty into a sauté pan and slams on the lid.
"It seems like she understands how to treat animals," Alex says.
"Clearly," I respond. Alex yawns.
"I'm so exhausted I could sleep for a year," I admit. "How can I be this exhausted from one child?"
"Because she's the devil," Alex says.
"Because she's an asshole," I say.
Sophie has changed into a yellow robe, unbelted. She's shoved a pink ski hat over her flock of blond hair. Her bare ass jiggles as she flits from toy to toy.
She is lawless. She is high from fruit sugar. She smells good and won't sleep and is smarter than either Alex or myself was prepared for. She is all of these things and more.
But most importantly, asshole or not, she is ours.
To read past editions of Vodka Yonic, visit our sister paper Nashville Scene.