In her Amazon.com review of my book, A Dozen Invisible Pieces and Other Confessions of Motherhood, Ashley Shelby of Book of Moons Press and Mill City Writer’s Workshops assesses the following:
“…Her candor about her own experience as a mother raising three children under the age of four; her feelings about motherhood, about giving up a career to stay at home, then starting up a new business; about the joys (and occasional indignities) of being a mom; societal expectations of and assumptions about women; marital and mental health issues; and more all combine to create a great read, which provokes lots of laughs along the way.”
Over the past few days, I added a new chapter to my list of Motherhood-related indignities.
Let me start by saying, Andrew was gone on a well-earned, five-day mountain biking trip with the guys…so everything I write from here on forward must be read with that context in mind. (a.k.a. when you have an incredibly involved partner who helps A TON with the kids…when things go awry, it feels ten times worse in that person’s absence)
Less than two weeks into the new routine of getting our oldest to and from kindergarten, our middle child to and from half day preschool, all the while toting our two-year-old son along for the ride, I relinquished to adopting the use of crutches for the suspected stress fracture in my hip that’s been bothering me since early August. That was on Thursday. On Friday, our youngest had his two-year-old vaccinations which, unlike any other set of shots he’s ever had, apparently gave him such severe muscle and body aches that he selectively refused to walk for the next two and a half days, muttering, “boo-boo” (which really sounds like, ‘ba-ba’) and pointing to his leg where the injections were administered. Have you ever tried hefting around a 28 pound kid while balancing tenuously on one leg and a couple of wooden under-arm sticks? It’s not exactly a pic-nic, let me tell ya’.
Friday afternoon, I took the older two to their second soccer practice which they hated quite nearly as much as their first, a week prior. As they continually left the soccer field, slumping themselves down beside me onto the ground with drawn looks on their faces and claiming things like, “no one’s giving me the ball,” and “I haven’t made any goals yet. My soccer teacher probably thinks I’m a bad soccer player,” and “Mom, I’ve always wanted to be on the stage. I want to do ballet, instead of soccer,” I kept having to race after the youngest who was intent on limping his way toward the nearby playground and sand volleyball court…apparently able to walk only when he wanted to be obstinate and insistent on doing what he wasn’t supposed to be doing.
After the miserably unpleasant soccer practice, I attempted to raise our broods’ spirits by taking the kids out to pizza for dinner. Despite Andrew’s absence, I didn’t see any reason not to adhere to our Friday Night Pizza Night tradition. Between soccer practice and driving five minutes to the pizza place, our youngest had apparently reverted to refusing to walk once again, so I ditched the crutches in the car and slung him onto my “good hip” for the trip into the pizza place.
Twenty minutes later, I was chasing the little one all over the restaurant, progressively limping myself while he had apparently forgotten his boo-boo (‘ba-ba’) all together. Once back at the table with him for the final time, and still awaiting our pizza’s arrival, (while a couple of elderly women repeatedly glared at us for disrupting the relative silence of the otherwise deserted place) our youngest dumped half of a chocolate milk drink box all over my pants and shoes.
I requested the pizza in a to-go box.
On Saturday I drove two hours each way, on my own with all three kids, to and from my In-Law’s town where I was scheduled to do a book signing. After much debate as to whether or not it was going to work out I was able to have the kids stay with their grandparents and play with their like-aged cousins for a couple hours. Had I known what I would discover the next day, I never would have made the trip over and allowed the kids to hang with anyone outside our own home.
Sunday morning, our oldest awoke early and came into my room where I was vainly trying to get a little work done on my new book before the troops got up. She entered my room, raking her scalp with the long finger nails I’d failed to trim each of the seven times I’d noticed them the week prior.
“Mommy, my head’s itchy,” she announced, scratching furiously.
“Let me see, honey.”
I only had to glance at her head for a nanosecond to recognize the adult lice weaving their way through the venerable forest of her lovely, thick hair. Thankfully, I gathered memories and training tips from when I worked in the ER as a Physician Assistant in another life, and nonchalantly told her she had “just a little skin infection on her head that we’d need to get some special shampoo for.” Meanwhile, my entire body–head to toe–began itching and crawling with the imaginary, psyche-generated insects only a parent who’s seen lice on their child’s scalp can experience.
As the boys awoke, complaining of hunger and the need for breakfast right now, I realized we were out of bread, oatmeal and milk.
“Guys, today we get to do a special outing first thing in the morning! We’ll go to a coffee shop for breakfast, ” and hopefully avoid passing on lice or nits onto any of the other coffee shop patrons ” and then do some errands at Target! Fun, right?”
Our youngest was back to not walking again…and in fact cried every time I touched him anywhere…while trying to pick him up, get him dressed, brush his teeth, etc.
Coffee shop selected and car parked, I made my way with all three kids into the cafe, herding the kids like aberrant cattle refusing to stay with the herd. As I struggled to get the four of us through the coffee shop doors, teetering on crutches, calling each one’s name in turn, issuing reminders about good manners, etc., three men watched amusedly as we entered the store. Two of them were police officers. None of them offered to hold the door, help steer the kids into the shop, or see if they could help in any other way. Not until I’d gotten to the counter, ordered a variety of scones and juices for the kids and had a counter-full of breakfast items in front of me awaiting the kids’ hungry mouths. Finally a man who happens to be a regular at that shop…a place I often go to write when Andrew’s home with the kids in the evenings or on weekends… jumped up and grabbed our food and drinks and arranged them on a table for us.
Our trip to Target to pick up a couple of RID lice removal treatment kits, bleach laundry detergent for the sheets, towels, bed covers, clothes, car seat covers, coats, stuffed animals and every other conceivable household item that might now be housing a louse or egg was equally demoralizing.
The four of us repeated the circus act of getting from the car to the store–me on crutches, the older two kids working together to push the cart I’d plopped the youngest into who was screaming at the audacity of his older siblings being the ones to push the cart instead of Mom (he’s kind of a Mama’s boy)…store customers staring at our antics…
Once in the store…at all of nine o’clock on a Sunday morning, the place wasn’t exactly hopping. I counted six red shirt and khaki pants-wearing employees, all standing around and doing little more than picking their noses…watching the scene my kids and I were creating: the youngest screaming, crying and batting at the hands of the older two who were earnestly trying to help me out with the cart, me tri-podding on the crutches; continually re-directing the cart the kids were inadvertently pushing into clothing racks and display cases in the one dollar section…and do you think one of those employees offered to push my cart for me or run and grab the items I was shopping for? Hell no. They just stood by watching in awe.
Once we made it back home, I spent the next THREE STRAIGHT HOURS shampooing, rinsing, combing and picking lice and eggs out of my kids’ hair…a process I have been lucky enough to repeat another three times since until receiving the “all clear” this morning from my daughter’s school nurse.
Moral of the story? There is no moral. But I was damned happy to see my husband get home, and am even happier that he arranged for a babysitter to come tonight so he can take me out for sushi. That being said, I don’t think I’ll be eating any California roles that boast caviar. I’ve seen enough miniature creature eggs to last me a life time.