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A Mother's Confession

from There Will Be No Intermission by Amanda Palmer

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Our son is four months old, his name is Anthony, or Ash for short
And he’s too small to do things by himself
We were in L.A. over Christmas in a rental and we jury-rigged
A place to change his diapers on a shelf
I was peeing in the bathroom and had left for just a second
Cos I thought he couldn’t move and he was safe
As I came out I saw him falling in slow motion to the floor
It was probably the worst moment of my life

And then I accidentally stole a thing of ChapStick from the Safeway
I didn’t see it ’til we got out to the car
I would have usually returned it
But I was overwhelmed and late to take the baby to my cousin’s
Up in Carmel Bay

In my defense I’d bought like 87 dollars worth of groceries
And the ChapStick was a dollar ninety-nine
I know it wasn’t the right thing to use my newborn child as an excuse
But it felt like a good reason at the time

And as I pulled out of the parking lot I cried
And as I pulled on the highway I said, right
At least the baby didn’t die
At least the baby didn’t die

And then we went to Sarasota
To see Neil’s cousin Helen for her birthday
She’d just turned ninety-nine
We were also there for Sidney, who was ninety-four two days before
But he was sick so mostly it was Ash and Helen time

She survived the Warsaw ghetto, and she always says “I love you”
When she sees you cos she knows you never know
She’d worked for months while I was pregnant
On a gorgeous handmade blanket
Her almost-hundred-year-old hands crocheting every row

I’d been emailing her pictures 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 knitted
She was really nice about it
Then I went and shoplifted a pair of ugly sunglasses from Goodwill
They were on my head I’d tried them on and left them there
But that’s not really bad compared to
When we left the baby in the car
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 relative
And everyone’s related
I can’t do that much right now
But take care of this baby
I figure everything is technically all right
If at least this baby doesn’t die

And then I took a plane to Washington alone so we could visit
Jason Webley who’s his godfather and plays a mean accordion
I couldn’t wait to see him and share tales of our disasters
Over dinners in his houseboat
When I saw I’d lost my passport

So I got a rush appointment
At the place where you replace them
And I drove the baby in
And on the way I got a speeding ticket

When the cop came to the window
I was shaking and I said, “I’m sorry” but you couldn’t hear me
That’s how loud the sound of screaming was
Cos he was hungry and I think that I was speeding
Cos I panic when I hear him cry
My God, what kind of mother am I?

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
At least the baby didn’t die

While I was waiting for my passport I was hungry so I twittered
For a coffee in the neighborhood, and there I saw a woman
Who was sitting at the bar
And it was noon and she was drinking

And she called across the diner to 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 son

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”
And she held him tight and started to cry

And I’m sorry that this story’s gotten long
And that everybody’s crying in this song

And then I got back to the car and I turned the radio and heater on
And sat there with the baby in the back
And they were talking about Syria and climate change and ISIS
And the candidates’ positions on Iraq

I feel so useless in this universe
I know I could be doing worse
I’m trying hard to stay at peace inside
I know it’s hard to be a parent
But this mess is so gigantic
I wonder if I should have had a child

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
Right, at least the baby didn’t die
At least the baby didn’t die
At least the baby didn’t die

I may not make it to the passport place on time
(At least the baby didn’t die)
And they might revoke my license for a while
(At least the baby didn’t die)

And I might get caught for retroactive theft
(At least the baby didn’t die)
And I might get turned into the DSS
(At least the baby didn’t die)

But at least the baby didn’t die


from There Will Be No Intermission, released March 8, 2019


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Amanda Palmer Boston

performer, writer, giver, taker, listener, love-lover, rule-hater and co-founder of the Brechtian punk cabaret duo, The Dresden Dolls.


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