Here is the one that started it all. The day motherhood drove me to writing. I know it's long, but as my friends who have read it can attest, it's worth the read. Enjoy!
******Written September 16, 2009******
This tale is not for the squeamish, faint of heart or germaphobes. It may prevent anyone with children in diapers from trying to potty train, or anyone without children from ever having them. If you find yourself gasping out loud or gagging, just be thankful it was me and not you. If you find yourself laughing or reminiscing, then may I count you among the tried and true parents who will take pity on my ever-loving soul? This is the wretched story of why Chik-fil-A closed the play area this afternoon and why all the parents who go there this afternoon and have children wailing and bemoaning their lack of playtime fun, will curse the name of the parent who’s child caused such grief.
As many of you may have read on my Facebook status yesterday, I was ready to throw in the towel, when it came to parenting. It just seemed to be one thing after another. Two of these incidents were inconvenient potty accidents (is there really ever a convenient time for a child to have an accident?) that just frustrated me to no end amongst a list of back-to-back errands, snacks to make and naps to take. I was overwhelmed and exhausted from the time I woke up. So, today I roused with a renewed sense of purpose. I will rejoice and be glad in it. I quoted Nichole Nordeman on my Facebook status, “Your mercies are new every morning, so let me wake with the dawn. And when the music is through, or so it seems to be, let me sing a new song, old things gone.” It would be my mantra for today. I would sing it silently in my head, quietly under my breath or scream it at the top of my lungs with the van windows rolled up, if need be. I was going to have a good day, period. And it started out that way.
There were no major fights or screaming matches between my children giving me cause to race downstairs and separate the two. Breakfast was uneventful, peaceful in fact. Mila told me she had to go potty and promptly pooped when I put her on. Even the little piece that fell on the floor, as I put her on the seat didn’t bother me. She had told me, after all, and I didn’t have to change her underwear. I could handle a little poop on the floor. Levi’s favorite shirt was clean and he didn’t protest getting dressed. Mila didn’t struggle or run away when it was time to stretch her feet and put on her braces, rather, she and Levi happily counted to ten for each stretch. Man, I’m on today. Mila again said she had to go potty and went fairly quickly after I seated on her throne. I might actually have a chance of keeping her dry all day! We made it to occupational therapy on time, Mila did all her exercises without protest and Levi was content to play with his racecar and give me the play-by-play. Now was the true test, shopping.
We made it to Michael’s safe and dry. As we shopped, the kids didn’t fight, pull each other’s hair, or threaten to bite. Not bad. “Potty” she said. My heart jumped. Could I make it across the store in time? If I did, would she actually go? Or would I find myself sitting on the floor of a public restroom trying to keep her on the seat and begging her to go. Go. We maneuvered our cart around boxes and end caps of Halloween and Christmas décor. Christmas? In September? Really? Whatever. I hoisted one in each arm, pinning them to the their soon to arrive sibling, out of the cart and ushered them into the bathroom. She was dry! She wasn’t fighting to get off but she wasn’t going either. Patience. “ ‘Old McDonald had a….. farm!’ That’s right! ‘E-I-E-I-O!’” We sang through the verses as customer after customer came and went in the stall next to us. Wait…could it be? Is it? It is! “Yay, Mila! Good girl going poo-poo on the potty!” I triumphantly went back to shopping and ignored Mila’s subsequent attempts to get out of the cart by claiming “potty”. As we left the store, a sigh of relief swept through my body. The shopping had been a bust, but we were on a potty roll!
Jo-Ann’s was next. Mila continued to ask to go potty. She is due to pee…. what do I do? I’ll kick myself if she has an accident. Here we go again. Of course this time, the large stall was in use so I crammed the three of us into a tiny stall and we went through the routine again. “Old McDonald…”. No luck. Crap. Sigh. This is just part of the deal. Oh well, at least she is dry! The shopping was a bust again, but I had found a $20 in my pocket and after having such a great morning with the kids I was feeling generous and hungry. Chik-fil-A was close and before Levi resorted to crying and carrying on about the cow, I announced we were going out for lunch. We, amazingly, had a pleasant lunch. They ate all their food with minimal prompting. No crying, spitting, or throwing of food. Success. They had definitely earned some time in the play area. How quickly I had forgotten Mila still had to pee. We weren’t in there more than 5 minutes when Mila gave me that look and stood awkwardly. I saw a drop pee hit the ground between her braced feet. NOOOOO! Dang it! I scooped our two drinks and her backpack up, grabbed her by the hand and ordered Levi to come. We made it to the far side of the restaurant with out any more dripping, that I could tell. Both stalls were in use. But there was a changing station. When opened though, it would block the person in one stall from leaving. Do I risk it? How fast can I do this? Go. I lifted her up and as fast as I could stripped off her shorts, plastic cover, and WET chonies. At least she got it all out of her system. The door to the stall opened. “Sorry!” I apologized. Thankfully, it was one of the employees. I say “thankfully” because Chik-fil-A has some of the most polite, genuine employees. She patiently waited in her bathroom prison while I donned dry chonies, plastics. On the bright side, Mila had managed to keep her shorts dry through the ordeal and I was able to re-use them. The employee and another patron again patiently waited as I gathered our things and managed to wash our hands before heading back to the play area.
As I rested my aching back and 34 week prego-belly on the bench in the playroom, I exhaled. Relief. My kids were playing nicely. Mila was scampering up and the steps and down the slide all on her own. I don’t know that Levi ever found the slide, silly boy. As I continued to watch Mila come down the chute, head first, feet first, and sideways I thought about how far she had come, barely walking when we got her a year ago. My daydream was interrupted when Levi announced, “She’s poopy”. I doubted it. He often accuses her of such behavior and rarely is it true. She came down the slide again and as she turned to her belly and lowered her feet to the ground, I saw it, something brown on her shorts. Is that ketchup? She was wearing those shorts at lunch. Maybe she sat in some in the highchair and I just didn’t notice it until now. I moved in. Looking in the leg of her shorts, I was horrified to find her baggy, gaping chonies full of brown, stanky, mush. I looked to the slide. Was that a streak of poop? Maybe it was a rubber mark from some kid’s shoes? I didn’t go any closer. I knew what it was. I frantically grabbed our things and headed for the registers. I humbly apologized to the employee for my daughter and myself. I did not envy the person who would draw the short end of the stick and be stuck sanitizing the play structure. Nor would anyone, who would see me in the parking lot in the next 10 minutes, envy my job.
Thankfully, I had a primo parking spot right outside the door and there would be no traipsing across the asphalt dragging a clumsy, poopy girl or a protesting boy to the van. 3 times in one day? Is that really necessary? Mila was in no mood to stand still or stand, period, by this point. And I soon realized that laying her down wouldn’t work either. Poop was already falling out and onto the carpet. Why are cars carpeted anyway? have you ever seen car carpet without stains? It seems something wipe-able would be more practical. But I’ll take that up with the Big Four another time. So, with one hand I held her up under her arm and kept her from falling to the floor as best I could. I leaned my head against the front seat to balance myself and with the other hand I removed her shoes, braces and socks. All while trying to keep the debris field to a minimum. I looked up to see a mother and two boys leaving. I felt horrible, I knew they hadn’t been able to play after their lunch. I reached for the wipes in her bag. Do I have enough? How many times did she go down the slide after she pooped, it’s everywhere? What did she eat? Raisin Bran. Blast that raisin bran she loves so much. The flakes were everywhere. Wipe 1, full. Wipe 2, for the car seat she kept leaning on. Wipe 3, for the carpet. Wipe 4, the back of one leg. Wipe 5, the back of the other. Wipe 6, her back. Wipe 7, there is no wipe 7. And the flakes weren’t cooperating. Re-use wipes 2-4. Crap, what do I do now? “Levi, can I have your cup of water, please?” I didn’t even bother to remove the ice. I didn’t really care at that point. I’m sure the man whose car door I was blocking thought I was being cruel. I just smiled and shut the front door so he could leave. Bringing her brown, buck naked body down to the ground and still holding her by one arm I began to wash her off amidst protest. There was now a puddle of water and poop in the parking lot, but still there was more. How about a piece of random tissue paper lying on the floorboards? Sounded good to me, still not enough. Anything else lying around here? Not much, as my husband keeps our cars pretty clean. Oh look, a sock, that’ll work… I think that does it. I looked at my hands, I didn’t have to bring them up to my nose to smell the aftermath. What do I do now? I have no wipes, no hand sanitizer and the kids are buckled in their seats. Now I know what all the people who don’t have children or haven’t been parents very long enough are thinking, “Surely, she wouldn’t leave them to wash her hands.” and all my sistas in the back holla, “Hell yes, she would!”. I said, “I’ll be right back” and locked them in the van. I hoped the CA highway patrol officer who had eaten lunch in the restaurant was long gone by now. So sue me. I hung my head on the way out when I saw the notice posted on the playroom door. I just wanted to get home.
Home. The ride home was uneventful. But now I had the unpleasant task of washing out the pile of poopiness laying in the back seat. I knew there was a pile of wet and or dirty chonies sitting in the utility sink in the garage. Yes, we just throw them in there until there is enough for a full load. At least now I could get a load done before the end of the day and be restocked. As I rummaged through the sink, separating grocery bags from the malodorous undergarments and the soiled clothes they contained, what did I find? Not one, but TWO pairs of underwear with poop still inside! Are you kidding me? How long has this been in here? Who left the poop IN the chonies? For the love of all that is holy, is it too hard to at least shake the poop into the toilet before bagging the underwear!?!?!? Not that it really mattered at this point, I just needed to get the washer going and get the kids down for a nap. After using several of the, now empty, bags like a glove to scrape the chonies clean and rinsing what remained down the sink, I was finally able to close the door to the garage the entire experience for that matter.
I returned inside to find the kids watching The Cat in the Hat, and Mila still dry. I took her potty only to have her squirm off the seat. I promptly put her in a diaper in preparation for naptime. After hustling the man-child upstairs and getting him settled in, I came back and tried to take her potty one more time. Wet. Are you freakin’ kidding me!!!! I scolded her for not going when I took her and not telling me she had to go. I thought about spanking her for willful disobedience, but I just sat there defeated. Let's try this again. Diaper number two went on and she went down for a nap. And I sat down to vent on paper. And it has been cathartic, I think. Because even when Charlie Gibson closed the news with his usual “Good night, and I hope you had a good day.” I thought, Today wasn’t THAT bad. I felt much worse yesterday and I didn’t even have a pooptastrophy. Whether it was starting with the right attitude or a therapeutic mind dump onto the page, I survived today. I survived when Mila woke up wet from her nap and I survived when I couldn’t get her out of the high chair and to the potty fast enough at dinnertime because I stepped, barefoot, into the pile of rice she dropped on the floor, as pee streamed off the chair. I survived when she stood up in the bathtub tonight and said she had to go potty while simultaneously peeing into the bubble bath she was sharing with her brother, minutes after sitting on the toilet. I will survive the unseen number of accidents yet to come while I potty train her and this next baby. Why? Because “His mercies are new every morning, and I will wake with the dawn. And when the music is through, or so it seems to be, I will sing a new song, old things gone. Everyday is new, He makes all His mercies new. “