Today was a mess of errands. Hither, there, and yonder. My youngest is potty training, so when we were at home he was naked, and when we went out he was in training pants. We carted the oldest to and from camps, got some groceries, met a guy about a thing, bought stamps and looked for chairs for the kitchen table (still looking). At 4:30 we decided on a whim to go to Chic-fil-A, but when we got there I realized I had forgotten my wallet and would have to go home to get it, but they were so excited about ice cream cones that I relented.
We came back and unloaded ourselves into the restaurant. I led everyone into the play area and took orders as they took their shoes off and put them in the little cubbies, practically delirious with excitement. At that time it became very evident that the baby had pooped his pants.
I had no diaper, no wipes, no change of clothes. I weighed my options and decided CFA would probably frown upon me washing his rear in the bathroom sink and letting him run around naked and made the executive decision to ride it out. After all, no one else was in the play area and we weren’t staying long so it was totally cool.
And then my oldest opened the door and announced to all patrons: “My baby brother pooped his pants and so we are hiding in the Kid Zone and the smell is intolerable so don’t come in here” while pinching her nose and making a disgusted face (note to self: don’t talk out loud when making executive decisions).
Of course we had to leave after she had ratted me out, so I chucked their shoes in my purse and threw the baby on my side and carried him out, everyone barefoot and yelling and crying that we were leaving, and he’s struggling to get down and run to see the geese in the nearby pond ,and me with stains on my shirt screaming GET IN THE CAR NOW!!!!! And then of course I had parked funny so I had to rev my engine and drive up and over the curb to get out of my parking spot, all right in front of the window with the entire restaurant looking on, my whole car smelling like diaper. Total and utter chaos.
These are the outtakes. These are not the filtered moments. These are not your children, holding hands, walking down a pier toward a perfect sunset. This is not the rainbow, and this is not exactly the storm. This is the mud.
This is head lice and nit-picking and 84 loads of laundry because- did your hair touch that??!? This is my middle child who will randomly get gas so bad that her midsection quadruples in size and we have to force feed her Gas-X until…well… This is the tantrums in the grocery store and I’m sweating while I’m tearing open a bag of goldfish like a madwoman hoping everyone else in the store is deaf.
These are the unsettled moments: orderless, purposeless, frantic and wild. You cannot predict them and you cannot placate them. And they are unavoidable.
It subsides. You are home and the baby is clean. The children are playing nicely together in the yard. Carrying sand from the sandbox to the slide. Their work is quiet and coordinated, inconsequential. You can fold a few towels, reply to a text; you can think.
I get them to bed. I pour a glass of wine. I put on Nina Simone Radio and sit down to write and there are words there waiting for me.
We’ll try Chic-fil-A again tomorrow (just…maybe the one in West Ashley).