I’m not a very organized mother. I’m not clean. I was screened upside down, front, back, sideways, and all around in order to adopt, but I don’t recall anyone testing my tolerance for mess. My kids eat food off of the floor at restaurants. Food that wasn’t ours to begin with. When I just had Elliott, people who didn’t know that would observe our behavior at Chick-fil-A and say things like, “Oh, I remember being so careful with my first, but by my fourth, you just have to let it go, right?” I’d always tell them that he’s my first, so what does that say about how I’ll handle my fourth? I’d try to look sheepish…but really I’m not. I’ve often thought I should write a book for the right-brained moms. The ones who get wrapped up in a project and check out completely and finally come out of the fog and go, “Wait, hey, kids, whatcha been doin’?” The ones who don’t teach their kids their ABCs but do sit at the kitchen table teaching them how to make crazy awesome noises with their cheeks and having staring contests and silly face contests…you know, life skills.
My kids get a childhood full of love, but not one full of order. Lots of kisses, lots of laughter…but sometimes I forget the last time I gave them baths. Strangely, I can carefully plan and lead a trip to Uganda – and I even have Excel spreadsheets for packing lists, for everywhere from Uganda to Hilton Head – but I can’t plan for a day of errands and a trip to the park. I don’t like doing the same thing twice, and I chafe at routines, which is an enormous deficiency for a mom of little ones.
So, no surprise here, I don’t have a carefully packed diaper bag. I have a bag made from recycled milk bags that I got from Korah in Addis Ababa. It contains stale Cheerios from two months ago, a change of clothes that no longer fits my daughter, broken crackers, a days old sippy cup filled with dubious liquid, and occasionally, a diaper. I’ve been out of wipes in the diaper bag for weeks. I dutifully carry around this bag, but it’s a bit like toting around a first aid kit filled with cotton balls and a used bandaid.
I make do. I can usually track down a wrinkled diaper at the bottom of my purse, underneath the reams of napkins, Mardi Gras beads, and Matchbox cars. Most of the time, we’re home before there’s a gigundous problem. But. Today I may have hit bottom. We were out all day long, and I actually had a couple of extra diapers stashed in the van. I used the first one. I used the second one. And while Evie and I were waiting for Elliott at an appointment, she made that face. The face of a two-year-old who just gambled and lost in her Huggies. And I was out of diapers. I thought, “Maybe, maayyybe there’s another one lurking out in the van.” But I knew there wasn’t. And we were no where near home. I did what any mom would do when their child stinks up the waiting room. I whisked her out the door, saying loudly, “Let’s go change your diaper, sweet pea!” I pretended to look extremely responsible and prepared for situations such as this. I laid Evie down on the floor of the van, next to the dried up pieces of bread and assortment of tissues and hair bands. She found a toy under the car seat. I did the obligatory search for the ghost diaper. Nothing. I opened her up. Okay, whew, just a little nugget. Okay, I could salvage this. I searched through the array of napkins and found one that we’ll call “clean.” I tried to scrape off the turd from my daughter’s sweet bottom. Was it made of rubber cement?!? I looked around, trying to find anything that would help me, and my eyes fell on the collection of cups in my drink holders. When we bought this van, I marveled at its ten drink holders, knowing that I would take full advantage of them. At any given time, you can check out my van and chart the drive-thru runs for the week, from Chick-fil-A sweet tea styrofoam cups to Starbucks grande latte cups. At this particular moment of panic in the parking lot of Elliott’s doctor, my eyes zoomed to the Starbucks water cup from two, make that three days ago, with water still sloshing in the bottom. I pried off the straw/lid combo and dipped in a napkin. The water gave me what I needed to pry the reluctant turd off my daughter’s bum. Victory. Now…um…what to do with the little napkin nugget. I did a pan of the parking lot. No trash can. The turd was dangling off the napkin at an alarming angle and I didn’t think I could hold on much longer. I tossed it into the Starbucks cup, put the lid on, secured the de-turded diaper back on my long-suffering daughter, picked up Elliott, and drove away, poo-poo safely ensconced in the cup holder next to me.
Possibly the worst part is this: it’s still there. It’s still there! One would think I’d take the first opportunity to discard the poop cup in the trash. Or hey, I love the environment. Let’s recycle it. Yes, that’s the responsible thing to do. But no, I got home, I went into my little Melanie world where I like to hang out. I showed Elliott how to make a booger Rorshach by blowing his nose, pressing the tissue together, and then pulling it apart. Evie and I danced to Mariah Carey’s “Joy to the World.” And the turd still lingers in its Starbucks cup out in the garage.
Tomorrow I’ll really hit an all-time low if I forget it’s there and think, “Iced coffee!” There’s a sip to remember.
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