The Ballad of the Binky

Sunday, November 13, 2011

I learned the importance of Two as a child care provider.

The first time I watched a parent try to pick up their child...and they didn't have the car seat. Having a parent hightail it back to child care to pick up THE binky, or THE bottle of tylenol. The agony. The frustration.

I thought to myself, "There has got to be a better way."

So, when I prepared us for the arrival of Emily - I insisted on Two. Two car seats. Two bottles of everything. Two sets of boots. Two snowsuits. This way, I reasoned, we could always have back up in case of...whatever.  I would never have to curse Terrance for forgetting to leave me the car seat, hoping against hope that the child care might have an extra one.

This extended to favorite babies as well. When Em attached to "Baby Baby"....I began seeking the second "Baby Baby". Who then became Know as "Baby Baby Baby Baby". We are an inventive group in the "naming of things". We have a cat named, Kitty or Le Chat - depending on the day. I am vaguely surprised we were able to name our daughter something other than "Human Female Baby who is driving us Crazy".

And binkies ( aka Pacifiers, dummies or whatever thing your family calls them)?  Ok, I am going to tell you one of my shameful, obsessive mother secret.

Emily chose ONE binky. A Playtex binky - The kind that looked like a butterfly.

In a fit of panic born of sleep deprivation, hormones and the reality that I had birthed the weapon of my destruction, I bought one of each kind pacifier available for sale at Walmart and popped them in - one after the other -  until she found one that she liked.

Hurrah!, I rejoiced. A respite for my poor gnawed upon nipples!

My previous ten-year-held conviction that my child would be binky free crumbled in less than two weeks of constant nursing.

Emily, Age 2 - with the Magic Binky

Four months later, I was strolling in the Walmart and looked up at the binkies. Huh?! A new design on the Playtex binky. Let's try it out!

We got home and I broke out the new binky. I popped it in.

My daughter's face scrunched as she tentatively sucked on this newish binky.  Then she opened her mouth and simultaneously spit it out and SCREAMED.  I mean, screamed as if she had just been set on fire. The scream of inconsolable anguish. The scream that makes your armpits tingly and a sweat break out.

My mind raced. Oh Playtex! Why had thou forsaken me? Your new binky design was of no comfort and this was the only one she liked. Playtex was trying to kill me!!!

Then I calmed down. I thought, I will simply call Playtex and alert them to the fact that my child does not like these binkies. I will then offer to buy their surplus stock of old binkies. They will be thrilled to unload their old merchandise. They will offer me a discount!

Um, no. That woman on the other end of the Playtex customer service line had no empathy for my plight. She calmly told me that they had tested the design and that babies couldn't tell the difference.

This may be true, I countered, but they didn't test MY child and that was the only one I cared about at the moment. Didn't she realize the future she was condemning me to? Years of sleeplessness and chewed on nipples? Did she not realize that it was the binky which kept my daughter from being left on the side of the road to be raised by groundhogs or other various rodents? My hysteria mounted.

The woman stood firm. I could not directly buy binkies from them. Maybe I could drive around town and find the old style and stock up?  And Hey, she will even send me one free binky, old style.

I called her names.

After I hung up, of course. I wanted the free binky. And then, with the determination and focus only achievable by a sleep deprived, lactating mother of a Four month old, I put my child in the car and drove to every pharmacy, every big box store, every convenience store within a 40 mile radius which might possibly stock binkies.

I would dance with delight when I would find one. But alas. I didn't find many. I could clearly see the disintegration of the binkies and with them, my fragile sanity.

At this juncture of hopelessness and hysteria, I had an idea. I would ask the internet. Remember, this was 1998. I was a member of a bulletin board of women who were having babies at the same time, the "MomMay's" we called ourselves.  I put out the call, and they responded. I would happily cover expense and shipping. Just find them and send them to me.  They did. They, equally hormonal and lactating,  understood the terror I was facing. They put their babies in car seats and replicated my store crawl, all over the United States.

I never counted exactly how magic binkies many I stashed away. Suffice it to say that Emily had her binkies until she was about four and a half years old. She was on her last few binkies, by that time. 

While I don't recall the names of those glorious women, those other mothers, who found these binkies and mailed them to me, I do recall that it taught me that Motherhood was a Club. One whose rules were not easily understood from those outside, but that if I really needed them, they would band around me and give me what I needed, be that booze or binkies.

June 25, 2007 Gimlet Eye

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