Flying Solo

Of all the things a new father-of-three can say to his wife, ‘is it okay if I stay at work until seven tonight‘, ranks among the least preferable. And yet, that is what the professor chose to utter Tuesday morning. He may have cited a reason for his prolonged stay, but all I heard was ‘..at work until SEVEN..blah blah blah’.

Really, what he was saying was: ‘you’re on your own for the scary afternoon time, dinner and baths, and trying to corral the naked Hen when he escapes from the bath…and the inch of standing-water-on-the-floor afterwards, and the litany of excuses the Gort proffers on why it’s not possible for him to stay in bed for more than five seconds.’

So it was with trepidation that I dropped the other jason johnson off at work, and drove off in my car-van.. as a man walks to the gallows.

The afternoon began well enough, especially considering the Hen had napped in the car; consequently putting the kabosh on me trying to reclaim any of the sleep I lost between 1 and 4am thanks to his baby brother. As I was walking around the house, carrying my littlest sidekick, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather outside and snap some pictures while boy child number 2 played contentedly in the sandbox.

When I placed the baby on the chair, ready for his close-up, I saw that he was covered in spit-up. And so was I. I’d somehow tuned out the gagging, spitty sounds emanating from his throat; oblivious to the fact that my left shoulder had been doused in vomit by the little man. And that he’d also peed through diaper and onesie.

Good one, mom.

I took my pictures and, all too aware that Kindergarten pick-up time was rapidly approaching, hurried to get my crew out the door. Only to discover that they’d both soiled their respective diapers. And, based on the collective odor, there was no postponing this ‘double-change’ until we got back from school.

Two Pampers later, we were on our way to school. To pick up the scholar. After which I decided to play the mom-of-small-children version of Russian Roulette: taking said children out in public on errands. Since I was going to be on my own until seven, I decided I might as well be brave stupid and take all three kids to the store. Alone.

In the nearly three weeks since B3 arrived, I’d managed to avoid doing just that, taking only a sampling of my posse along on errands. I mean, it took me nearly two years to get used to the idea of taking two children…anywhere…now three?

But I desperately needed to get some ‘baby milk’ storage/freezer bags. Which neither the Superstore, nor Safeway seems to carry. I know, because I’d already checked when I went shopping without kids. Which is why I had to drive all the way to the fancy Bo Bebe Lifestyle store in Westhills.

Going meant walking through a parking lot with three kids, and entering a really nice store with three kids…risking life and limb (or at least supreme public humiliation and destruction of property) in doing so. Walking through the parking lot, I held the Hen’s hand and spoke in soothing, admonishing tones, reminding everyone of their ‘p’s and q’s’. Until the Hen decided to sit down in the middle of traffic because he had a rock in his shoe.

Soothing voice momentarily gave way to something a little barkier and to the point ‘walk to the sidewalk, and then we’ll fix your shoe.’

Crisis number one averted.

We walked into the store. I asked the not-particularly-helpful-clerk where the milk storage bags were located and she pointed me in the right direction. I scanned the products as quickly as possible in an effort to get in and get out STAT. I found a box of the bags, picked it up and walked to the cash register.

No one had broken anything, or even touched anything.

‘That will be $31.49’ the same helpful clerk announced. Did I hear correctly? Clearly I hadn’t looked at the price of the storage bags. $32 for what amounts to small, fancy ziploc freezer bags?

I forked over my debit card and breathed deeply.

Next up was a stop at Sunterra for breadrolls and salami. My new go-to snack-lunch for myself and the Gort. As the Hen chooses to throw his sandwiches across the table should I dare put one in front of him. I never shop at Sunterra, because it’s on the pricey side of the spectrum. But, in its favor…it is small, and has no lines at the cash register. So if you’re just testing the errand waters, as I was, it is the perfect place to go.

Except they have ‘boy’ carts.

I’d forgotten about the boy carts. The miniature grocery carts they have lined up at the front of the store. The Gort had not forgotten about the boy carts. ‘I want to get a boy cart’ he told me as I was standing in front of the deli counter, too sleep deprived to come up with anything smarter than ‘uh….okay’ as I visualized the boy cart colliding with a carefully stacked display of bottles of olive oil.

The Hen tried to abscond with his brother’s boy cart. They were standing at the deli counter, fighting about a cart, which could only lead to: (1) someone getting injured or (2) something getting broken. There was only one solution….get a second boy cart. So we did. And now, in addition to guiding two free-walking boys through a fancy grocery store, I also had to guide their carts.

I started hyperventilating a little.

We got the rolls. I literally had to buy two bags, because they started fighting about who got to put the bread in their cart.

We left the store with everyone and everything intact. We went home where I cooked the roast chicken my mom had kindly left in the fridge for me. I set off the smoke alarm and had to rip it from the wall so it would stop squawking. In the middle of it all Jason sent me a message on gmail: ‘is it still okay if I stay at work until 7?’

Sure. No problem. Everything’s under control.

I even managed to send away a door-to-door salesman; feeling rather proud of myself, until I looked down at my black shirt and saw it was covered in white splotches of spit up.

10 thoughts on “Flying Solo

  1. I see a definite need for online shopping (groceries, little fancy freezer bags, everything) for the next year or two. Especially during winter.

  2. You have my total, utter sympathy.
    I’d like to tell you it gets easier but I might get struck by lightning!
    I am thinking some very smart child minder should offer their services as a “sit-in-the-vehicle” nanny so we moms can shop without losing the plot. It would be worth the cash – think of all the money we’d save not buying the gum,lollipop,ice cream,roll,toy thingie at the till!
    Great writing!

    1. Best idea ever: ‘sit in the vehicle nanny.’ Or maybe an inflatable electronic doll that could extend an arm backwards to put a lost pacifier back in a screaming child’s mouth?!

  3. YES! YES! YES! My husband does the same thing (one week after birthing twins “Can I go play basketball?”) and YES why do we then think to play super woman and go shopping with the whole brood?

  4. you might me for this but….i think this story only foreshadows what your future has in store for you! even it does, sounds like you are doing a fabulous job so far 🙂

  5. Oh Nicola… you are so funny, but you are in my prayers! (I’m in my prayers now too, since I’ve had the glimpse of what this third baby will bring). I had kid carts, BTW. They have them at Trader Joe’s and ALWAYS it is fun for the first three aisles, and then I end up pushing a “normal” cart and two kid carts the rest of the way.

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