Recently, I tried to take all 3 kids for a 20-minute drive to a park. The plan was to meet up with some friends and their kids for some fun playtime and adult conversation.
Personally, I was in dire need of some out-of-the-house time with other grown-ups because one or more members of my family had been quarantined for the better part of two months, dealing with the flu. My husband and daughter had both gotten ear infections along with the flu. My other daughter got the flu, got pneumonia…then got the flu again. Mine turned into pharyngitis.
And if all that weren’t enough, afterward, we all shared a bout of pink eye.
It’s been party central over here, only without all the fun… Fevers, vomit, coughing, moaning, that’s been my world….. Despite constant hand-washing, usage of copious amounts of sanitizer gel & bleach, and relentless screams at my kids to “cover your cough!”, there seemed to be no end to the madness.
Desperate to salvage at least one day of spring break for my kids, we finally emerged from the fog of plague that had descended upon our house. The kids had all recovered about a week earlier, but it took a few more days for hubby and me. Finally, the day had come to venture out.
That morning, it was obvious the pink eye had made it to my daughter.
Since we’ve been in and out of the doctor’s office so much that they just wave at us because they know our names and birthdays, I figured we’d run in and get a prescription for the eye drops before meeting up with my friends that afternoon. After that was done, we were finally on our way.
We really weren’t in the car that long. The park is only about 15 miles away. The kids were being quiet and I was fighting highway hypnosis when I heard it….and then immediately smelled it. My 3-year-old son. Projectile car sickness with no warning.
We were only two exits away from the park.
There was vomit all over my son, his shoes, his seat, the seat in front of him. It was even in my purse which I had put on the floor in front of him. I think there might have been some sprayed on the back of my oldest my daughter’s head, but I was afraid to point it out lest she freak and start puking too.
It didn’t occur to me to give my son dramamine like I usually do for road trips. I thought it would be within our window of puke-free travel time. Obviously, I was wrong.
So I pulled over to the side of the highway and tried to get him cleaned up. I had to strip him down naked… right there on the side of the road. Thank God I had a container of wet wipes — we stopped carrying the 50-lb bag of essentials a long time ago. Now you’re lucky to find anything in our van other than fossilized french fries or goo-coated toys. So, it was a huge relief to have the wipes, and we managed to find a plastic bag to put everything in….and tie it closed.
Then I put my son, naked except for the pullup, in my daughter’s booster seat, and I moved my daughter over to a regular seat/seatbelt.
(Side rant: If you’re going to buy a child’s car seat, make sure the fabric cover is EASY to remove. Sure, all the stupid tags say “washable cover” but they don’t tell you that you need a fucking engineering degree to remove the cover and then get the damn thing back on! Moving on.)
At this point, I was thinking I’d go ahead and continue on to the park, drop off my two daughters (9 and 6 yrs old) because SURELY one of my mom friends would gladly keep an eye on them while I ran down to Walmart for clothes with my son. Right??? So I did what any tech-savvy, 21st century mom does, and I sent a text message.
Will anyone keep an eye on my girls while my son and I run to Walmart to clothe his naked body?
It seemed a no-brainer. Moms can be a pretty tight bunch. Moms have been my lifeline when motherhood and marriage have pushed me to the brink of insanity and beyond. It didn’t occur to me that I might be shunned.
But they had seen my status update about projectile vomit. Perhaps I wasn’t clear it was motion sickness and not the lingering flu plague. However, if my son were truly flu sick, did they really think I would be a fucking idiot and let him play at the park? And even if my son WERE flu sick, seriously, they couldn’t eyeball my girls for a few minutes while I took him to Walmart for clothes?
The response I got was that since we were dealing with pink eye and vomit, we were too contagious and should go home….they had recently dealt with their own waves of sickness and couldn’t risk any more germs….(so they go to a public park exposed to weather and bird pooh and other kids with mysterious green mucus oozing from their noses???? wtf ever!!!)
Creative Playscape at San Gabriel Park, Georgetown
I got that message just as I had parked my car….at the park….with all three of my kids squealing to play on the castle playscape before them.
I sent a feverish round of text message replies, swearing my kids were fine, that my son only had motion sickness….but I didn’t get any response. I just needed a little help. It’s not like I was asking them to take my girls home, or wipe their asses, or let them backwash their drink.
Then I felt all weird, like I was being overly presumptuous and defensive and stupid. So, I sent a nevermind reply, despite the “No Mommy, I want to play on the playscape!” cries emanating from my kids and me trying to explain that we’ll come back…
As I was trying to find the toddler boy section in the unfamiliar Walmart, I just broke down. Right there. The stress and sleep deprivation caught up with me, and in that moment, I was the crazy-haired lady with dark circles under her eyes letting her kids run around Walmart like a pack of wild ferrets while giving screw-you faces at people gawking at us….because I just didn’t care.
I grabbed a few outfits for my son, bubbles and gum for the girls, and a bag of powdered donuts for me. We went back to the park, tried to have a good time, then went home with no additional puke, thankfully. Then, I locked myself in the bathroom and collapsed into a puddle of tears.
Am I the only person who feels like she’s losing her mind, trying to cram life into a world with mayhem, disorder and plague??
Instead of sex ed in schools, they should just offer field trips to my house. Motherhood, although fulfilling and rewarding in countless ways, is certainly much more stressful and lonelier than I imagined it would be….
And definitely much smellier.