If you are a parent, then you know exactly how important that one stuffed animal or blanket is. It's the item that your young child forms their first bond with, and in most cases, if there is ever risk to that bond, your child can feel lost, alone, which in turn, can wreck havoc on your life.
I was faced with this mess of a situation last week, while on a stroller run with the girls.
Now, for those of you who have a double stroller, you know just how hard it can be to run while pushing an almost five-year-old 50 pounder, and a baby. It's like running without the use of arms, which can be quite the challenge, but it makes for one hell of a workout. I also decided to throw in a couple of those lovely steep hills that overlook the harbor and the Boston skyline. It was well worth it when Emily, Charlotte and I got to the top and played around on the rocks.
The morning was going as smooth as glass.
Until we were on the drive home. After I jammed that beast of a stroller into the small trunk of my Jeep Patriot, and started to make the three minute drive home, Emily yelled..."Manew!" For some clarification, 'Manew,' pronounced "MA-NEW," is her go-to blanket. While only a square foot of material, this is the item that she simply cannot part with. In fact, she has gotten so attached to this piece of fabric, that my mother, the designer of the blanket, has made four additional backups in the event of an emergency like this. The thing about Emily though, is that she is pretty smart, and she knows when we try to trick her with a 'backup Manew.' She prefers, what she calls 'the stinky curvy one.' Stinky because she drools on it every night and curvy because of the way the edges are sewn. She has gotten very used to those edges and falls asleep rubbing the texture of the stitches.
I turned around right away, and like a hungry mama lion hunting for her prey, I was determined to find that blanket. I pulled out the stroller as Emily peeked over the backseat, with tears in her eyes, "Is she in there, is Manew in there?"
Meanwhile, Charlotte was starting to unravel. If that baby could talk she would've said, "Get over your damn Manew and just move on to a backup. Stop being a tit." Charlotte was so over it.
No Manew in the car, so I packed those two girls back in the stroller and ventured around the island a second time, up every hill, tracing every nook and cranny those wheels rolled across. And I ran, only slowing down to ask passerby if they'd seen a teal and pink polka-dot blanket. I had the sewage treatment workers on the lookout, a couple of friendly ladies, and even some fellow parents who knew my exact situation.
"Oh no," said one young woman when I approached and asked if she'd seen the missing blanket. "I'm so sorry." She knew exactly what I was going through and looked at her friend and said knowingly..."This is like when I lost blue hippo." And just like that, me and this strange woman and her friend bonded, over a blue hippo and a stinky blanket. It's one of those moments when you realize you've been welcomed into a club...I was officially in the parenting club. We were in it together. I wanted to melt into this woman's arms and cry because she understood, but...I had a long road ahead of me. We were only halfway back around the almost three-mile trail.
"Mommy ask them, and ask them!" Emily chanted as we passed others, who much to Em's chagrin, hadn't seen Manew.
There was only one more place she could be, and that was by a bench that we had stopped at so Emily could take a selfie. As I made my way toward the bench, it was like I saw the light at the end of the tunnel...peeking out from between the bench's metal bars, I saw the pink and shiny teal material, glowing underneath the sun's rays.
"Emily, look, look!" I shouted, caught up in the moment like I was watching a major sporting event.
She saw it too and immediately jumped out of the stroller, ran to the bench and held that stinky Manew up to her nose and hugged it with all her strength. I could hear the lyrics of an old song playing in my head while this moment was unfolding..."Reunited and it feels so good."
It was only 11:00am and I'd already experienced one of my biggest fears and had logged over 12,000 steps on my Fitbit...but I got an insanely good workout.
Have you experienced a major missing lovey moment like this one?
There is nothing clean about parenting. Even the tidiest of parents will be faced with situations that are downright dirty and horribly unpleasant.
It happened while we were driving home from New Hampshire last weekend. Slinger and I were hit with a ghastly scent. Naturally, we ruled out the 150 pound dog in the rear of the car and the child and baby in the back seat. We began questioning every other possible cause. At one point I even rolled down the window, convinced that it was rubber tires or a skunk permeating the air on the highway.
But, as always, Emily, our four-year-old, confirmed our worst fear.
"It's Charlotte, it's coming out the side of her diaper!"
An explosive diaper, while not the most pleasant thing to deal with, is certainly doable. Been there done that. We decided it would be a quick stop at the nearest rest area. Until, Emily furthered our fears and gave us a play-by-play of what else was happening.
"Oh my God, mommy, she's eating it! She's eating it!"
As luck would have it, an impressive rest stop, paired with a diner and a liquor store, was only three miles away on the side of the highway. A one-stop shop for booze, bacon and bathrooms.
Of course, it was pouring rain when we pulled into the parking lot, because what's better than a kid eating her own shit? A soaking wet kid, with shit dripping off of her and onto me. Perfect.
I took the lead and went to work unstrapping the belts that held the pooping princess into her seat. And as luck would have it, we had no wipes. So, without a wipe in sight, I just succumbed to the mess, and pulled her up and out of the carseat, held her close to me until we got under the roof of the rest area.
If you can believe we had a bigger problem, the main obstacle was laid out before us. This was a rest area on steroids and you had to go through an area that had tables and chairs that spilled outside of the diner. Because who wouldn't want to eat their breakfast in the public portion of the area, while people marched in front of them zipping their flies down on a mission to get to the bathroom fast after a long drive?Well, I was about to give these diners a moment they'd never forget.
Without making an ounce of eye contact, I did what I had to do. I held Charlotte out in front of me, facing outwards, as her glorious shit-covered paws reached out proudly before her. I walked as fast as I could to the bathroom and of course there was a line.
I knew that this moment was going down in the baby book as Charlotte's first major moment in the spotlight, as I charged ahead of the line and plopped her down on the changing table. For the first time that day, luck was on my side and there happened to be a cleaning cart right next to the changing table. It made the moment more cramped, but it was the perfect opportunity to pilfer some quality paper towels and get to work cleaning up the mess.
With a front row seat to Charlotte's "shit show," the line of bathroom-waiters looked on in disgust. I could feel their glares penetrating the back of my head as I repeatedly wet the paper towels in the sink and went to work cleaning out the creases in Charlotte's every nook and cranny.
A few minutes later, and I was greeted by Emily and Slinger outside of the bathroom, so we could do the walk of 'shit-shame' out of the rest area as a family. But, when I went down to hold Emily's hand, she refused my grip.
"Ewww I'm not touching your hand, now," she said in disgust. At least Charlotte was as happy as a pig in shit, and still loved me.
So, Charlotte is now called, "The Diaper Digger."