Hormones to the rescue!
When the officer slid past the window I threw my cellphone onto the seat and, to show I wasn't really breaking the law, grabbed the steering wheel with both hands and started talking into the air.
"Pull to the side," I heard the policeman say.
"I'm so sorry," I stammered, rolling down my window. 'It's just habit, the holding my cell phone thing, total habit. Please don't give me a ticket?"
Scarett and I were on our way home from a series of errands, which included dropping Hudson at nursery school and a friend at work around 9:30 this morning. Rain drizzled down my window so I couldn't make out whether the policeman looked at all sympathetic.
"Who's car is this?" he demanded.
Confused, I glanced around at the half eaten pieces of rye bread and banana peels, the coffee cups, pacifiers and crushed paper bags littering the back seat to reassure myself I hadn't stolen something big this morning - a reasonable proposition given my sleep deprivation.
"Um, mine?" I said.
Well, your license plate is expired.
The officer's face was stern, his ticket-writing fingers twitchy and I promised Ted I wouldn't get one more ticket this year (okay, I'm a horrible driver, with a knack for parking illegally too).. or else.
"Oh," I responded, thinking I had to do something and quick. If ever I was going to use that whole new mom thing it was now:
I mustered my best flustered look (it wasn't difficult given my unkempt, un-showered appearance. My hair, wiry and wild was pulled into a lopsided ponytail and I think my giant nursing bra straps were poking through my ratty t-shirt).
"I. Am. So. Sorry," I whined. "I didn't realize I had an expired license plate. I... I just had a baby, I'm exhausted. I haven't been paying attention to anything but the baby and the not sleeping.... And she's a tiny baby... And I don't sleep..."
"I see the baby," the kind officer said. "Okay, okay, listen, don't talk on your phone again. It's a $190 ticket. And please, please, tell your husband to register the plate. Okay?"
"Okay!" I said - a headache, which had just started its descent to my forehead, halted. "Thank you sir! Thank you!"
As I pulled away I exhaled and tried to think of the lesson I learned from this experience: seem more hormonal next time.