My idea of a dream babysitter is one who e-mails out of the blue and says: "Hey! I'm available to watch your kids tomorrow night! Want to go on a spur-of-the-moment date?" Because yes, yes I do. I want to go on a date and rarely do. And better yet, I want to go on a spur-of-the moment date.
If I have to plan the date, I probably won't. Even if I do, I'll probably back out of it. I don't know why; I can't explain it. I'm such a spontaneity junkie that--even if we plan a trip six months out--I have to wait until the last minute to pack...just so the vacation feels a little like a surprise. If you tell me you're visiting three months ahead of time, I'll be found cleaning frantically the day of your arrival...just so it feels a little like a surprise that you're on your way.
And these kids, Man: they're trying to break me. Kids--at least in my experience--thrive on schedules and plans: ugh. Nothing makes me feel more like myself than a last-minute date (except Merle Haggard, but this post isn't about him)...even if we take the baby with us.
So imagine us on our last-minute date. I'm not wearing make-up, but I've showered and donned a white peasant blouse. We've decided to eat on the patio; the weather's perfect. I note a teensy farm smell as we sit down. I'm not troubled; I grew up on farms. Where's the farm near here?
Oh. It's in the pants of my baby.
Ok, ok. No big deal. I excuse myself and carry the baby to the minivan. Oh, too bad: he has a bit of poop on his outfit. It's alright; I have a diaper, wipes, and an extra outfit for him. But then I look down and see:
I have poop all over my white peasant blouse. I'm not talking a little bit. I'm talking a 4"x6" smear on the side, where I carried the baby on my hip, also a spot the size of a fifty-cent piece on the bottom front. I use all the remaining wipes to scrub at my shirt, but it's still mustard-colored (in 4"x6"- and fifty-cent-piece-sized spots). And I smell like a farm.
I put the clean baby back on my hip to hide the bigger spot and carry him to Jim, whose smile slowly fades as I point at my shirt. "I'm going to the bathroom," I whisper, and he nods.
I slink (along the wall, like a rat) to the bathroom. I'm in luck: it's a one-sink, one-toilet deal with a door that locks. Also, it has good-quality, colorless hand soap. I peel my white peasant shirt over my head and apply hand soap and cold water to the yellow spots, then hand wash over the sink. The spots come right out. I put my shirt back on and study my reflection. I smile and think how I much prefer wet, soap-smelling spots to yellow, farm-smelling ones.
So imagine us on our last-minute date, my white peasant blouse drying in the summer air. We're smiling and enjoying our time; I didn't flip out and ruin it. And I'm thankful, you know, for the test. I feel like a real mom. I've got Destiny's Child singing in my head. ((I'm a survivor (What?)
/ I'm goin'na make it (What?)
/ I will survive (What?)
/ Keep on survivin' (What?)))
There will be bread pudding with caramel sauce. A spark in his eye, his hand on my knee. Survivors, all of us.