I am late for everything these days. EVERYTHING. Seriously, the girl who used to be a stickler about showing up on time (like, to the point where I’d sometimes get places way earlier than expected and drive around the neighborhood killing time so as to not be the first guest there an uncomfortable amount of time before things started), well, NO more. I am ALWAYS late. ALWAYS! And it can’t be helped. It seriously can’t. I’m not just making excuses either. It doesn’t matter how much I plan and prepare, it’s just impossible to get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time.
Take last week, for instance. I had an appointment on base at 3, which meant having to wake up the kids early from their naps so that I could get there on time. Unfortunately, knowing how long it takes for us to get out of the house, that meant cutting naps WAY shorter so that I could allow extra time to leave the house. I packed everything in the car while they slept. Diapers, wipes, snacks, drinks, the stroller, my wallet. EVERYTHING. All I needed to do was wake them, change their diapers, and plop them in the car for a 10-15 minute drive. Knowing that something would inevitably go wrong, I woke them before two. Thinking that surely 40 minutes was more than enough time to get two kids out the door. I mean, everything else but the children was already packed and waiting to go. Should be easy, right?
Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
The first 10 minutes went great. Got everyone up & changed and headed towards the door. Then, while I’m getting Oliver’s shoes on, Clara digs under the stove with her chubby little fingers and finds something to shove in her mouth and then crawls over to me munching loudly as though to taunt:
“Guess what I have that I’m not supposed to, mommy?”
She sticks it part of the way out of her mouth to proudly show it off and then goes scurrying away.
Carrot. It looked like a chunk of raw carrot.
Since the kid has a whopping 4 teeth in the front of her mouth, she obviously can’t chew raw carrots, so I leave Oliver sitting there to go chase her down and fish out the carrot. Now, if you don’t have an “everything goes straight in their mouth” kind of child, you may not have experience with this, but for me, multiple times a day, I have to pin her down, pry open her jaws while she bites and kicks and screams, and try to be fast enough at scooping my finger through her mouth to retrieve whatever is in there without making her choke on it in the process.
Yea, it’s stressful.
I finally get the carrot and go to throw it away, only to find that Oliver has taken off the one shoe that I managed to get on him and is now hanging with his head over the garbage can, trying to reach something inside. GROSS.
Throw away the carrot. Drag the kid out of the garbage can. Wash his hands. Put the shoe BACK on.
Ok. Time check: 2:20.
Great. Still plenty of time. Put the baby on my hip, grab the other one’s hand, and head out the door. As I’m buckling Clara into her car seat, I’m smelling something a little funky. Did something get left in the van? I do a cursory check but don’t see anything, finish wrestling her into her buckles, toss her a toy, close the door, and head to the other side of the van to get Oliver buckled…where the smell about knocks me over.
“Oliver…did you poop?”
Seriously? In the time it took me to get Clara into her car seat?
The way I see it, I have three choices.
1. Take them both out of the car and back into the house to deal with it
2. Pretend I don’t smell it and take him to the appointment that way
3. Change it now, in the car.
#1 is WAY too much work and #2 will most definitely result in a diaper rash on this 85 degree stifling day, plus I’ll just have to change it when we get there, which isn’t any easier…so I opt for #3.
I have him lay on the floor of the van and grab a clean diaper, but the SECOND I undo the tabs on the poop-filled one, the garbage truck pulls onto our street.
If you don’t know Oliver, you don’t know what a big deal this is, but he LIVES for the garbage truck. Drags the cans out the night before with daddy. Talks about the garbage man who is sleeping now but will work in the morning to come get all the cans. Wakes up asking about it. Waits in the window to see it. Runs, shrieking to the front door, his forehead pressed to the glass to see it go to EVERY house on the street. Cries if it comes during his nap and he misses it. Plows over his daddy the second he walks in the door after work, demanding that they go get the garbage cans right this very second and bring them back to the house. It’s a big deal. Huge. And it’s here now.
Now, of all times.
Now, when he’s laying on the floor of the van, shorts around his ankles, poopy diaper flapping in the breeze. Now.
“I’m gonna miss it, I’m gonna miss garbage truck!” His chin begins to quiver and the tears begin to roll. I grab a wipe and his crying turns to frantic shrieking. “GARBAGE TRUCK ON OUR STREET! I’M MISSING IT MOMMY! I’M MISSING IT!!
I want to scream. Cuss. Wipe all garbage trucks off the face of the earth. Of all the times that darn truck could have come…
I quickly re-do the tabs on his diaper, smushing the poop back inside and set him on the ground, trying to quickly pull up his shorts. He’s in too big of a hurry and breaks free, running to the front of the house, holding his shorts up around his knees and wobbling a bit as he gets there. Then he stands in our front yard, drops his shorts to his feet, poopy diaper drooping, and shouts and jumps and waves at the garbage man.
I don’t know whether to laugh, die of embarrassment, or cry in frustration. 3:35. AND, I still have a son to retrieve from the front yard and a poopy diaper to change before I can even THINK about going anywhere, and then a 15 minute drive, a gate to get through, and however long it takes for me to find a parking slot that is NOT labeled: “General so-and s0” or “Officer of the month” or “CGO’s only” or “handicapped” or “thisspotisforanyoneBUTyousoyoumightaswelldrivefor10moreminutes”
By the time I park, it’s 3:01. Late, but not horrible. I put the van in park, run around to the back to grab the stroller, and it won’t open. I hit the unlock button again. Nothing. I hit it a dozen more times. Nothing. I walk around to the front and hit the unlock button on the driver’s door panel, thinking perhaps there’s a problem with the key thingy. Go back to the trunk. Still nothing. I hit the button half a dozen more times, prod and pull and pry on the trunk. Nothing. 3:05. I can’t carry both kids, I need somewhere for them to be strapped in for my appointment, and I can’t get to the darn stroller. Clara is crying in her seat because she can see me but I’m not getting her out, Oliver is shouting something about having dropped his hat, and I’m yanking on the handle, which is doing nothing. Zilch. Nada. I’m late, hot, sweaty, frustrated, my hair is falling out of my ponytail and sticking to the back of my neck…
“OPEN, YOU STUPID VAN!!” I shout, as I raise my leg up and kick the back of it, rocking the whole van forward.
Way to go, Bethany, that’ll teach it.
I rest my head against the trunk while the children wail and I happen to look to my left – where an officer (who out-ranks my husband, by the way) is very obviously trying to look at me without really looking at me. I think he’s laughing.
Laughing at me.
Cheeks red, I walk back to the passenger door, crawl over one of the kids, shove the trunk open from the inside, crawl back out, and drag the 300lb thing out onto the pavement to set it up. Probably not very gently. I resist the urge to kick the stroller too and glance over to see the Air Force officer walking towards the building, still laughing.
At least I hope he’s laughing, and not headed in to call security forces on the wack-o lady in the parking lot who’s beating on her minivan.
The lady at the desk waves me in. I tell her I’m there for my 3:00 appointment and watch her eyebrows arch as she looks at the clock which obviously reads 3:20.
I’m getting ready to get down on my knees and beg that she doesn’t make me come back. “Don’t make me do this another day, lady. Please. I’ll do anything. I’ll wait another hour. I’ll go buy you a coffee at the kiosk in the lobby. Just please, please don’t turn me away. Don’t make me do this tomorrow too.”
She looks at me disapprovingly and tells me to have a seat.
We wait. The kids eat granola bars and crackers. And make a mess of their faces, their hands, my shirt.
We wait some more. Oliver pushes the stroller around the room and grinds crackers into the carpet.
Desk lady looks at me disapprovingly again. I’m crawling on my hands and knees trying to pick some of the pieces out of the carpet fibers and wondering how in the world getting the kids up at 2, AFTER packing EVERYTHING but the kitchen sink into the van still turned out to not be enough time.
The office phone rings and the lady answers it – I find myself sending up a silent prayer that it’s NOT security forces. She puts the phone back down and goes back to typing. I settle back into my chair, relieved at least that I didn’t look crazy enough to warrant calling security. Then i pick some granola bar off of my shirt and wonder how I’m going to get the stroller back INTO the van when we’re done.
Then I wonder why I ever try to go anywhere. Ever.
I already order a lot from you. Please consider delivering groceries, as well starting services for home-doctor’s appointments and shuttling paperwork back and forth from other offices to my home, so that I never, ever have to go anywhere ever again.
A mom of a 2.5 year old and a one year old.