As Moms we have a thousand “WTF just happened???” moments. Whether they happen in a kids play area with strangers or at our own family functions, we’re constantly exposed to other people’s opinions. It happens so often we need to become ducks and let that ish just roll off our back. Or we’d never make it. But some stories stick with us months later. And we just. can’t. let them go.
This is one of those.
This story starts as most annoying ones do….with me, minding my own business, trying to check out of a Target. Cart full of diapers and impulse purchases, Izzie in one arm the other just trying to scan my stuff so I could pay and get on my way.
Road trips are always a huge endeavor, especially when you’re traveling with a bunch of little ones. You spend more time prepping for the trip than you’ll probably spend at your final destination, making sure you have everything you could possibly need for every possible scenario: illness, peed pants, owies of all shapes and sizes, snacks – OH GOD THE SNACKS. Every possible book that will be required to get the kids to sleep at the end of the night and every toy that might be needed to get someone to stop crying/fighting/fussing/etc. I started getting ready on a Friday and a year and a half later we were packed, loaded and on the road.
Later that day, we found ourselves in the middle of what we thought was a seven hour drive – which ended up being over eleven hours – and were all in pretty good spirits. My husband and Dad were in the front row, chatting away, seemingly oblivious to the chaos of the back two rows. The kids were mostly singing songs from the major motion picture Moana and playing games they made up like “Guess the Animal,” where Evie gave charming clues like, “The animal I’m thinking of is a mouse.” It was cute, but freaking A man, was it LOUD. We had strategically positioned the carseats so that no one could touch each other, so at least there was that. But even cute wears off after a few hours.
Then something happens and cute is a distant memory.
And when you’re trapped in the third row of a Ford Explorer with your very talkative three year old sitting right next to you and your very hungry 7 month old screaming as she stares you down from her second row spot, the Panera off the highway might just look a little like heaven.
The second we parked the car I started yelling to the Daddies in the front row, “Please, please get the kids out so I can get out of the car, PLEASE!!” I scrambled over seats and literally fell into the parking lot, the black pavement scalding hot, but I was on LAND. And there was going to be food.
We went in, ordered and that’s when the fun began.
If you know anything about eating with kids, it’s that seat selection can make or break your meal. When in doubt DO NOT SIT NEXT TO THE NICE LOOKING OLD LADIES IN PANERA. This may have been a one off, but just in case. Heed this warning.
We all sat down and started to eat. The baby – a staunch refuser of all things pureed – was sitting in her high chair enjoying one of a baby’s major food groups: the Mum Mum. Yes, it looks like I’m feeding my baby a bird treat but she loves it, so I’ll keep ripping open package after package as long as she likes. Being a baby though, she drops food. All the time. In quick succession she dropped not one, but TWO of the coveted Mum Mums. I chastised her playfully saying, “Silly baby, you’ve got to stop dropping your food!”
It was at this point that Lil Biddy #1 decided to mumble, “Of course she’s dropping it, it’s WAY too big for a baby….how can she possibly eat it….ugh….grumble grumble.” Uh, excuse me? I shot over a look, equal parts, “I’m sure I just heard you wrong” and “Nosy bitch says what??” Okay, maybe not quite equal parts.
At some point, Izzie ran out of Mum Mums and it was time to bust out the canister of Puffs. Both food AND fine motor skill enhancer, Puffs are pretty much the perfect food for a baby on the go. Sure, she can spill them EVERYWHERE, but the cleanup is pretty easy. What could someone not like about PUFFS????
Enter Lil Biddy stage left! This pushed her straight over the edge. “That’s it. I can’t stay here and watch this anymore. Those are too small! That baby is going to choke and die and it’s all that Mother’s fault!!!”
She, no joke, STORMED OUT OF PANERA. Lil Biddy #2 chased behind her crying, “I mean, I think those are actually made for babies….” but it was too late. She was dust.
In the moment, I actually thought it was funny. Me, feeding my baby food, that was made for a baby, was such terrible parenting that it drove two ladies from a restaurant. Are we in the twilight zone? It was honest to God laughable. In fact, my whole table laughed. But the more I thought about it, the more it chapped my ass. Who do these people think they are that it’s okay to just comment on every parent that comes in their wake? Because make no mistake. This was not unique to that day, to that Panera. Chad thought it was funny as well, and commented on how random it was which is when I realized that it doesn’t happen to him. It happens to the Moms. Our jobs are open to feedback and criticism and judgement, from anyone, anywhere.
Whether you’re in the grocery store, or an amusement park, or Panera.
And it’s BS.
So we won’t even get started on what happened at the next rest stop where….but Evie looked like this. So use your imagination…
I am not good at being sick. I am terrible at taking time to recover. So I’m that nutjob in Labor & Delivery asking if I can leave early. Which is how I was checked out of the hospital 23 hours after our third baby was born. All that sitting around was making me ancy. I wanted to sleep in my own bed and eat my own food (or at least Chipotle’s food but in my own house) and I was sure my Target checkers were starting to worry. Basically, I had shit to do.
And so it was that a day after we were discharged, I found myself running errands with the family. We visited my Nana, so she could meet the baby. We went to the grocery store because even though I was fine with eating ALL THE TAKEOUT my kids still wanted milk and fruit and all that “growing food” we apparently had spent too much time focusing on. Oh! And the post office, I definitely had to go to the post office! DO NOT FORGET TO GO TO THE POST OFFICE! A day before the baby had been born – SIX DAYS LATE, THANK YOU BABY #3 YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE EARLIER THAN THE OTHER TWO, but I digress – I had been selling some LuLaRoe on some Buy/Sell/Trade sites because I can’t just sit and do nothing waiting for baby’s arrival! But it wasn’t going to mail itself, so I told my husband to take me to the slightly out of the way Post Office that was never busy and has the lovely old lady that’s so friendly and works on Wednesdays.
I left Chad and the kids in the car – I may be running errands 43 hours post partem but I’m not insane! – and popped into the post office. As predicted there was only one person waiting in line. He was a cute old man, wearing a hat signifying that he was a Veteran and I warmed to him immediately because he reminded me of my Papa.
I smiled at him as he turned to me and exclaimed, “Oh! You’re having a baby! When are you due?” I took ZERO offense because, let’s face it, I DID look pregnant. I had that weird, mushy, misshapen I-just-had-a-baby belly thing happening, and if you don’t KNOW I just had a baby, expecting a baby seems like a pretty good explanation. I kindly responded, “Oh, no, I had a baby two days ago actually.” The woman now in line behind me squealed and offered congratulations, commenting on how impressive it was that I was already out and about. I smiled and thanked her and assumed that would be the end of that.
I was wrong. This is where the cute little neighborhood post office feel good story takes a turn.
My sweet, old Vet turned back to me and grumbled, “What, did they leave one or two in there???”
Uhhhhh, excuse me?? I did a double take trying to rectify this new development with the aforementioned assumption that this was my new grandfather figure. The nice lady behind me tried to take over asking the usual just-had-a-baby questions.
“Did you have a boy or a girl?”
“My third actually.”
“Hey!” – Joy, he returns – “Did you hear there’s something in the air that keeps getting girls pregnant.”
I REALLY just want to mail my stuff and leave, but he was just as adamant that I hear the punchline of his joke, so he came up quite close, right to my face and says, “THEIR LEGS!”
At this point I was too shocked to respond with anything other than an absolutely stunned expression on my face. As I’m contemplating picking my jaw up off the floor, he sensed the disapproval from me and my companions in line and proceeds to respond the way so many offensive men do: “Oh, I’m only joking, don’t get mad.”
Because, of course, it’s MY problem that I’m insulted when someone makes uninvited comments about my weight and getting pregnant – not that he’s a douche…..
And so it was that I was reminded of how awesome it is when men think it’s appropriate to say whatever they want to women, about women. I left more than a little bit pissed off. Fired up. Sad for my daughters that will be growing up with crap like this happening in their lives. Adamant that my son be kind and respectful. Disheartened to see that douchbaggery has no age limit.
But he didn’t make me feel bad about the way I looked. Cause I had just made a person. And then gone to the post office. And that’s pretty badass.