Friday, April 14, 2006


Did you ever go somewhere and realize you'd forgotten something you really needed for the day, trip, or whatever you were setting out to do? It might be something easily replaced, like a toothbrush, or something not so easily replaced, say, your wallet. Back before you had children, this unusual occurence was pretty easily solved. You could a) turn around and go home and get what you forgot, b) locate a store and purchase a replacement, or c) do without.

Now that I have children, this is a situation not so easily solved. First of all, you're always forgetting something. That something is usually important. For example, option c) do without is so horrible to contemplate as to strike it from the list of possible options. Not only have I forgotten to leave the house with my child's sippy cup, but, on occasion, it has been the wrong one. Imagine said child's distress. Imagine the decibel level of shrieking which lead me to turn the car around and retrieve what I obviously should have known was the right cup.

Option b) purchase a replacement is also frighteningly difficult once the item forgotten is in some way tied to your child's well being. We once took all three of our children to my inlaws house and forgot my middle child's stuffed puppy. (My inlaws lived four hours away adult time, six kid time.) This wasn't just any puppy. This was the puppy. For those of you who still don't get it, this was his cuddle-up-and-go-to-sleep puppy. At the time we had a newborn infant in the house, so any additional disturbances to our already stressed out sleep patterns was cause for serious contemplation of hopping in the car and getting the darn thing. Reason prevailed, and I wound up in bed with the aggrieved party, while my husband camped out on the living room floor wedged between a glass coffee table and a stone fireplace.

Option a) turn around and go home, can also be tricky. In some instances, yes it can be done. You don't need milk and eggs that badly. Or, you can postpone your trip for another time. Or, if you have time to spare (rarely) you can turn around, get the missing item, and still manage to get your child to school on time. But then again, fortune doesn't always smile so benevolently upon you.

I remember one plane trip back when we had only one kid, and I forgot diapers. I'm not kidding. I packed everything to keep the kid fed and amused during the trip, but somehow the diapers did not make it into the gargantuan backpack we were hoping to pass off as carry on luggage. By the time I realized this, our luggage was checked, and I had taken our child to the bathroom for a diaper change minutes before our flight.

I stopped, mid swaddle, to frantically seach through my bag. I had already thrown the old one out and there weren't any diapers available at the stores dotted throughout the terminal. What was I going to do, stuff the kid's pants with napkins from the latte stand? Wad up a blanket and pad his diaper area and hope for him to sleep the entire time? My panic must have showed because an angel in the form of a fellow mother waiting to use the changing table registered my distress. "What's wrong, honey?" she asked in an accent that under any other circumstance would have made me smile. "I forgot diapers!" I wailed. "How could I have forgotten diapers?"

She handed over a stack and smiled. "This is our third" she said of the baby on her shoulder. Then she patted my shoulder and said, "we don't leave the house anymore without going through our battle checklist".

I recently had an occasion to fly with our then 9 month old baby. Before the flight took off, I took him in for a last diaper change. There was another mother using the changing table, so we patiently waited our turn. When she started frantically searching for her bag and her hair started to stand up, I handed her a stack of diapers, and said, "hand me the dirty one, I'm closer to the trash". As tears of gratitude welled up in her sleep deprived eyes ringed with dark circles, I told her, "this is our third, and we barely leave the house anymore".

But nothing beats my friend Tracey, who went to the circus with her two boys (and a third baby on the way) and realized she had forgotten to bring any wipes. Now, I went to school with Tracey and can personally attest that she was one of the most organized, punctual people I've ever met. This woman has been in charge of a 150 man organization with complicated equipment and literally hundreds of different tasks to perform. She could anticipate and solve problems before they even had a chance to occur. Her boss actually broke down in tears when she left. And, to top it off, she has this fantastic Southern accent that can charm any New Yorker within a 5 meter radius into putty. (I've actually witnessed this happen.)

But all that somehow changed when children arrived. Add pregnancy to two boys under the age of six and it's like the details started leaking out of what brain cells weren't occupied with staying awake.

She admitted that wearing a white shirt to an activity that had cotton candy on the menu wasn't the greatest decision she'd ever made. But wipes? She told me later, "how could I forget wipes when going to a place where sticky pink candy is a tradition?" Her only defense was that she was out of practice since her youngest had been out of diapers for awhile. All she had was a single container of hand sanitizer with her to attempt to clean off the assorted popcorn grease, soda, and ketchup that managed to escape their assigned containers within 15 minutes of sitting down. By the time the circus was halfway over, she said it looked like she was wearing a tie dyed t shirt created by Barbie.

But I don't think Tracey could have anticipated the inconvenience of no wipes when dealing with portable toilets. Before she could say stop (and mommies can say stop pretty darn quick) her little darling picked up the little "smell good" disk in the urinal and asked, "Mommy, what's this?". Thank goodness she still had a half bottle of hand sanitizer left. But boy, it was something.

Their third baby is due this summer, and I just didn't have the heart to tell her to stay away from airplanes until the baby is in college.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

The Mommy Olympics

After years of viewing the Olympic games, I've decided there needs to be an event that middle aged women dominate. I'm contacting the Olympic Committee with a few thoughts on suggested competitive events.

The Bathtub Brawl

Timed baths for at least two children in a standard sized tub at the same time. No whirlpool or spa baths are permitted. Soap must be used for its intended purpose. Hair washing is optional, but is looked favorably upon by the judges. Points taken off for each quart of water on the floor outside of the tub. Extra points awarded for each additional child and number of toys that actually stay in the bathtub during the course of the bath.

The Get Ready Rodeo

A timed event including breakfast, teeth brushing, face washing, dressing self and children, and putting on shoes. No velcro fasteners, shoelaces only. Cold cereal can be considered breakfast. Extra points awarded for the backpack scramble and lunchbox locator. Hair brushing had to be removed as an area of judgement, as boys had an unfair advantage. At least two children for this event, one of which has to be a) in diapers, or b) in the middle of potty training.

The Grocery Gallup

For experienced mommies only. The mommy must pick up groceries for a family of five or more that will last at least one week. Extra points awarded for fresh fruits and vegetables, none for frozen pizza. Four food groups must be represented. Failure to stay within budget limitations is grounds for immediate disqualification. Contestants must be accompanied by at least one child under the age of four. Napping children do not count. One family member must be a) in diapers, or b) potty training.

Contestants will be judged on maintaining calm in the face of at least one, possibly more, whining/crying children between the ages of birth and 4 years. Expect at the very least one fellow store customer to make obnoxious remark. Extra points awarded for snappy, but not snippy, comeback. Points will be deducted for any time over 1 hour spent in the grocery store.

The Pick up Pentathalon

Contestants must be prepared to deal with car not starting at any stage in this event. Automatic disqualification for any children late to any appointment or forgotten at activity. Bonus points awarded for nursing mothers. This event is currently based on a typical weekday. Weekends are under consideration for the Winter games. No carpools allowed. Pregnant contestants are given a 30 minute head start and two nausea breaks.

First, the competing mommy must drop off at least one child at school, grade Kindergarten or above. It is raining and child must be kissed goodbye and wished a good day.
The mommy must then proceed to drop off another child at a daycare type setting or preschool. Child cannot be dropped off at the door of the facility. The mommy and child must park and walk to the assigned classroom. A third child must be held on hip during this event. For those who do not have a third child, a 25 pound egg will be assigned for your use. Any cracks in the egg will be grounds for immediate disqualification.

Once that child is safely ensconced in preschool, mommy must pick up dry cleaning, prescription at a stand alone drugstore, and purchase birthday present for upcoming birthday party.
At this point, the contestant may choose to pause to catch their breath, nurse a baby, or for a trip to Starbucks or the local liquor store for fortification. Then she must return to school to drop off lunch box that oldest child forgot.

The mommy must then pick up the child at preschool, again parking and taking baby on hip. (Those assigned eggs will face an inspection station) . Points are deducted for your kid being the last one waiting to be picked up. The mommy must admire artwork and insert child into raincoat before leaving the facility. Dashes to the car without wearing a raincoat are not allowed.
The mommy must then drop off the car for an oil change, but is permitted to take children into cramped, dirty waiting area. By the time the oil change is completed, it is time to pick up oldest child from school. Expect delays due to rain.

This event ends once child is picked up from school and is seated with seatbelt fastened. The mommy is awarded points at each station for poise, remembering dry cleaning stub, checking with the pharmacist for medicine dosage, choosing present that birthday child does not already have, and being early for pickup at school.

In the event of a tie, an additional activity will be inserted into the afternoon. This may be, but is not limited to, a) sporting event or, b) a birthday party, or c) scouting event, or d) church activity.

The Clean the House category and Completing the Laundry could not be included as competitive events. Everyone knows that's impossible.

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