Today was errand day, which is always long and tedious because we live about an hour from the nearest city. Add a mom with little sleep taking three kids under 6 alone to a doctor's appointment and Wal-mart, and you've got a l-o-n-g day. There was a big rain cloud over us as we climbed into the van, and I had a hunch it was gonna follow me all day.
We pulled into the chiropractor's office right on time, and scrambled into the tiny room that is not meant for 4 people while the nurse muttered, "My, you have children everywhere!" No kidding. That's when I smelled IT: a mini-version of the crib episode that had to wait because the doctor came in just then. Looking back, lying on the adjustment table, waiting for him to jar my bones "into alignment" was one of the most relaxing parts of my day. And I noticed the sun was a bit brighter here than it was at home.
On the way out, my middle daughter ran ahead and forced me to use my "mommy voice" in public, and I changed IT reluctantly in the car. We made it to Wal-Mart, and the whining commenced. "Can I have a Dora backpack?" No. "I'm hungry!" Too bad. "I need a Sponge-Bob plastic plate with dividers." I don't think so. My merry heart was springing into action as we zoomed through the baby section. I relented and let the girls pick out clearance dresses to occupy their hands while I shopped. (better than toys, right?) Hannah's dress wound up twisted around her neck, in her mouth, over her head, on her waist, and ultimately back in the cart where it should have been. Then the ultimate kid trick by Hannah: "I have to go potty! REAL BAD!"
So we all go into the wonderfully spacious handicap stall. I figure toting three kids under 6 has to count for some kind of handicap! I put the baby down on the floor and quickly picked her back up before she could lick whatever it was she was picking at, making a note to wash her hands. Experience told me this was gonna be awhile, so, baby in hand, I leaned against the door to text my husband. All of a sudden, the latch on the door I'm leaning against gives way, sending Nattie and I sprawling into the public restroom. I land on my rear, hard. (Note to self on Hannah locking doors) Muffled gasps and cries of, "Are you all right?" are heard all around me by ladies without kids. I laugh and assure my audience I'm fine, then gingerly get up and head back into said handicap stall. My girls are bewildered to say the least, and my back still hurts, for the record :(
10 minutes later (just don't ask), we leave the restroom, and I know I'm gonna need coffee to make it home. I encourage the girls to hurry so we can "get ice cream" - that was my cover. I make it to the bread aisle and let the girls stay in the first section to oogle over the Little Debbies. "Mom! Don't leave us!!" They freak out. As I try to calm them down, we pass a very elegant lady in a long flowing dress. She had 2 kids with her, elementary age, both very nicely dressed, holding calmly onto the side of her neatly organized cart, and they are looking at me. I smile, "Shopping with kids sure changes things!" I manage to squeak out. She smiled wanly, "Yes, it does." And she continues past my overflowing cart with the non-organic cereal and my children, arguing over Twinkies and DingDongs.
As we are looking for the perfect Father's Day card for Daddy, I spot out of the corner of my eye some kids playing in the clothes rack. My first response, "Oh good, I'm glad my kids aren't the only ones to do that!" I then quickly realize those ARE my kids under the clothes rack. Then at the top of her voice, my oldest yells, "It's wedgie time!!" (from a movie she watched with the babysitter the other day, she claims.)
Exhausted and finally done, we rush into the first checkout I see. Incidentally, it is again the handicap aisle, with a wide lane and no candy in sight. Perfect! I think. Little did I know, the handicap aisle also has no conveyor belt, only an 18-inch long counter. My cart, as you might remember, is overflowing. The lady looked at me strangely but began ringing my purchases. I look again to make sure there is no item limit in this aisle and proceed. When I found Hannah's dress, I said, "Oh, no! This dress is missing the tags. I'm sorry!" The baby begins grunting. Then Linsey piped up from behind me, "That's cuz Hannah tore them off when she was holding it!" "Thanks, sweetie..could you please (be quiet) and get the bottle from my purse for your sister?" I say through gritted teeth. Now I'm putting the bags of groceries under the cart as I am still unloading more onto the miniscule counter. At the bottom of the cart, we find Hannah's tags. $200 and ten minutes later, the manager comes up behind the cashier as I put the last of the items in my cart. "I need a break!" my cashier says loudly. So do I.
Another 15 minutes pass, and we are finally in the car, buckled, and headed to McDonalds. The drive-thru is perfect, no one else in sight. I order a mocha frappe and two ice cream cones in cups, which seemed to confuse the voice I was talking to. Remembering the empty bottle in my purse, I ask for a cup of water. "Uh, sure, ask at the next window." So I pull up and the lady looks at me curiously. "Did you say you want your cones in cups?" "Yes, please, for the kids." She nods, then turns. "The other lady said I could get a cup of water too?" "Sure." I get the mocha frappe (yippee!!), followed by two cups with upside down cones. "Thank you!" She says. Not so fast, my mommy mind thinks. "May I please have the water I asked for?" Nod. "And two spoons?" She looks exasperated. So am I: I'm driving a minivan getting two ice cream cones in cups and a huge dose of caffeine, can she not figure out I have kids with me? I don't even want to think about all the creative ways they'd get the ice cream out of the cups without spoons.
I get the water and the spoons and almost ask for napkins, when I remember the exasperated look and the permanent box of wipes under my seat. I say thank you and let her get back to her non-kid business. 5 minutes later..."Mom, I made a mess! I need a napkin." Out come wipes one and two. I amuse myself watching my three year old in the rear view mirror, trying to put her headphones on to hear the DVD with one hand while holding her ice cream with the other hand. 5 more minutes go by, "Mo-om, I need the wipe again!" I'm beginning to feel sick from the sugar/caffeine rush on an empty stomach, but the text I sent my husband from the floor of the bathroom said we'd all have lunch when I got home. God, please don't let me have get sick in here, I think. The hour-long ride home gets a little brighter as I see a man getting pulled over to my right. "See, my day could have been worse," I think. Another wipe call from the back. I should have asked for napkins.
As I pull into the driveway, I notice two things: 1) The raincloud is still conspicuously over my house...ha! I knew it was waiting for me, and 2) We have company over. Just what every woman wants after spending 4 hours toting around 3 kids and $200 worth of groceries after a chiropractic adjustment. "God, help me be patient," I mutter. Said company was our youth pastor, who is staying at the church on break from college. I bribe him to help unload groceries with offers of a sandwich. As he is bringing in the bags, he asks innocently, "What's it like taking 3 kids with you to Wal-Mart?" I smile weakly, "Today's not the best day to ask," I respond. Lunch is going well, everyone eating quietly, when my 5 year old reports excitedly, "So did you know my mom fell right on the floor in the Wal-Mart bathroom? It was SO freaky!" Sigh.
The girls in their new dresses :)