As I get more and more comfortable being a mother of two under two, I have found myself becoming much less critical of other mothers around me. No more than a few months ago I would have shot an untoward glance at a harried mother desperately trying to get her child to do something other than what that child wanted to do, feeling sorry for her but secretly gloating that I wasn't there and never would be. I got those looks today.
A friend and I decided that a consignment sale was the place to be this afternoon. It was an overcast day, a little muggy, but the mud piles created by the last few rounds of rain made playing outside impossible. So a consignment sale it was. I love a good sale... 250 MegaBloks for 14 bucks, a piggy bank with heirloom glass tins for the first tooth and lock of hair for 10, a princess backpack for 4 dollars... what more could you want?! Petunia is strapped securely to my body with 5 feet of breathable organic cotton, wrapped expertly by yours truly and Piggy is sitting like a big girl in the stroller. We enter. All is well with the world. Until Piggy spots the thousands of stuffed animals and babies on the wall. "Baby! Baby! Baaaaay- beeeeeee! BAAAAAAAY- BEEEEEE!" I throw one to her- a lamb- to get her quiet. She says, "Oh weeee!" and snuggles it closely, while the thoughts of the unknown child's germs covering that baby disturb the peace it brought to the moment. I thought, "Okay, she'll love on her baby and if worst comes to worst, we'll have to buy it." A few minutes later, that little lamb is tossed to the floor and Piggy now wants out of the stroller. Stupidly, I had forgotten to strap her in, and she starts climbing up and out of the contraption, uninhibited by buckles or snaps. I gently tell her to sit down and she shrieks at the top of her lungs. I glance over apologetically to my friend who is chatting on the phone, seeing if this kid is as loud as I perceive her to be. She is.
We meander over to the official toy section that is laden with blocks and rings and VTech and other such goodies. Piggy is done. She has to get down to explore all of these new items. She finds a Winnie the Pooh play set and busily gets to work pushing the buttons and creating a general racket. Then she spots all the ride-on toys. A police car, a fire engine, a couple of scooters, a bicycle with training wheels, a bus, Thomas the Train, a motorcycle- it's a toddler's dream. She hops on and tries out each and every one of them, completely disregarding the masking tape covering the seats in the desperate attempt to keep children like mine OFF.
I place my massive box of MegaBloks in the stroller because it is currently empty and should be used for something. I stuff the piggy bank and backpack underneath and begin walking towards the front to check out. Thinking that my child would follow, I don't turn around. My friend, obviously more aware than I am, stops to watch as my daughter tries to get on the big girl bicycle. I leave my stroller, purse and all, and go to remove my child from the big girl bicycle. She goes limp in my arms and refuses to cooperate, screaming as loud as I thought she was able. We finally make it to the front and the lady asks if "this was all"? I say yes and ask if they take credit cards, really needing to speed up this process. Piggy then kicks and almost throws herself out of my arms, so I try to get her back into the stroller. Seeing that my attempts were futile, the lady at the register comes around and secures Piggy's feet in her hands and shoves them under the tray of the stroller. Piggy immediately becomes a limp noodle and slithers underneath and falls to the floor, shrieking and crying the entire way down. I look up and around and for a moment realize that every single person in that store was staring at us. So, I do the only thing I know how. I wave. At all of them. And I smile, while waving and announce, "Yes, we're here!! But we're leaving!" My friend and I move toward the door which is being held open by one of the workers. We arrive at the solace of the car. Whew.
Deciding that we had not had enough of this child's shenanigans, we head over to the local Chick-fil-A with the indoor play area. As we pull in, I am thinking about how to get the girls out of the car simultaneously. Since I wasn't going to bring in the stroller, I walked around and got Piggy out, and placed her in the front seat. She loves "driving" and then I quickly put Petunia back into the wrap. I opened back up the front door and said, "Come on, Piggy, let's go!" She immediately throws herself backwards into the "tantrum position," quickly and efficiently demolishing my styrofoam cup of Dr. Pepper and covering her head in it. I yank her up and out of the car to prevent further soaking of the sticky, syrupy liquid and lead her to my friend who holds her hand and says, "Piggy, what is in your hair?" "Dr. Pepper, of course!" is my reply.
We enter the Chick-Fil-A and another tantrum ensues which captures the attention of the staff and the four groups of diners. "Hello, everyone. We're here!" are the first words out of my mouth as I usher Piggy to the back left into the play room. She immediately goes to pick up a pair of shoes that have been carelessly thrown off by one of the children who is now eating her lunch in the dining area. "No no. Those aren't yours. Put them down, please." Thinking that my Dr. Pepper-soaked child has already caused all the ruckus she can, I begin to relax. My friend has ordered a milkshake and is enjoying it on the other side of the glass. A dad and a few kids enter the play area just as Piggy is squatting and grunting, making sure that everyone is around her, enjoying the stench of her newly poopy diaper. Oh yes. I was THAT mom today.