I’ve been on either crutches or a knee scooter for seven weeks, limping on an ankle that refuses to heal, included. The struggles of maneuvering crutches through Target, the mall, the college, and the doctor’s office has made my chest muscles burn so badly that I’ve sometimes wondered how I was still breathing. The knee scooter has been better, but not by much. It’s been exhausting to wheel through crowds, down hallways, across pavement, and across uneven surfaces. And then, when I finally arrive at my car, I’ve had to haul the knee scooter–which isn’t light by any means–into the trunk of my car.
For seven weeks, I’ve managed most of my shopping excursions through Shipt!, but I’ve also brought Tiny Tot with me to Target–he loved pushing the cart ahead of Mommy like a big boy–or I’ve gone with Mr. M and Lil Dude to restaurants. The bad thing about these outings has been that they have sucked all of my energy out of me.
The physical act of wheeling myself over surfaces on one leg, or lifting my entire body weight with each step, has sapped me like a Sim on empty.
Why, yes, I did just reference The Sims.
Yesterday, however, I woke up with Tiny’s arrival at 7:30 AM. He had a free day from school on his dad’s weekend, so I got bonus time, and I wanted every extra second I could get. I made him breakfast, we threw the ball around the front yard, and then I drove an hour to Mr. M’s house. This distance has been our norm since 2014.
When we arrived at Mr. M’s, we allowed the boys to scurry off and play for a while while we discussed what we would do before Tiny had to go back to his dad’s. We decided on books, food, and inside fall decor. Mr. M, bless his heart, has had to deal with my fanatical love of decorations, and I’ve been budgeting them into his life one holiday at a time.
His exact words yesterday were, “OH MY GOD, SO MUCH GLITTER!”
Witches glitter, right?
… My bad.
So we packed the kiddos in the car, and drove to Barnes & Noble. I scooted from the car to the children’s section, where I sat down with the boys in front of a row of chapter books. Lil Dude picked out a series of Magic Tree House books, as did Tiny. Tiny also decided to grab Story Thieves, books one and two. Tiny has had a zest and thirst for reading, which has made this avid book nerd proud.
Lil Dude has needed a bit more of a nudge toward the “I love reading” club, and the foray to the book store was more about him than Tiny. He told me last week that he is “the worst reader” in his class, and that he refuses to read out loud in front of his peers. Our effort this weekend was focused on the hyping and promotion of reading and books.
We left Barnes & Noble and decided to hit up a toy store across the way. I wheeled over there, and was suddenly hit with overwhelming fatigue. I half-listened as Mr. M talked about the boys’ new business–which I’ll discuss in another blog–and then we left to find food. Luckily, the eatery was right down the strip, so I scooted there, sat down, and ordered a turkey croissant sandwich with potato salad … that I’d be happy to eat every day for the rest of my life.
Stuffed, we left, and decided we had time to go to Hobby Lobby.
What should have been an easy trip on a normal day was exponentially more difficult than expected. Except, with our boys, I didn’t expect difficult at all. They have always been, with minor prompting and very few time outs, well-mannered, well-behaved, respectful, and mindful of the adults that tell them to listen on the first time and every time. They have never been the children who bang on a metal pole with a metal object, reverberating ear-jarring noises throughout Target while their mother stood by, oblivious of their actions.
… I’ve never seen that at Target … and, even if I had (I did … it’s true), I refused to mean-eyeball the mom because I know what it feels like to just want to “hurry up and leave the store.”
Mr. M veered to the left when we entered the store, and the boys and I headed to the right. We were on a mission to find Halloween and fall decor. I picked out some items, and told them they could pick out some items. When they both chose a tin bucket with tons of orange, black, and clear diamonds, I told them to discuss the matter with Mr. M. After the basket was filled–everything was a “necessary” item, I swear–I told the boys we were headed out to find Mr. M, who was across the store.
Somewhere along the way, the boys who were minding and listening became utter hellions. Wait, hellions might be too strong of a word. They became spawns of Satan. … Eh, still a bit much.
… They became the kid at Target who was banging on a metal pole with some metal object he found on the floor of the women’s clothing section, bursting the eardrums of everyone passing with a mind-numbing clanging sound.
That’s what they became.
One of them even started banging a metal Coke lid decoration like a tambourine.
… I can’t even.
I lost one, then I lost the other. I said, “I need to see two little boys, now,” and waited for them to perch their tiny butts in front of me.
I used my mean mommy voice, saying, “I better see both of you RIGHT NOW!”
They ambled out, giggling, claiming they were playing hide-and-seek from each other.
I pursed my lips, bared my teeth, and said in the most threatening Mom voice I could muster, “The next time I tell you to do something, you’ll do it, or I’m spanking butts.”
Seriously, why does this shit fly out of my mouth? I have popped a hand on a toddling Tiny butt once or twice, but mostly to gain his attention from spiraling out of control. I’ve never been a spanker, just a spanker threatener.
The worst part? They KNOW it!
We found Mr. M. By that time, I was ready to close my eyes and take a nap on the floor of Hobby Lobby. He ambled off, the boys followed, and I wheeled myself in that direction. When I got to them, riddled with fatigue, I took my knee off the scooter, and put my butt on it. I needed to rest for a minute, so that I could prepare myself for leaving the store. Mr. M asked about using a cloth to drape over the reading nook, and I said we needed actual draperies instead of thick fabric. He nodded, said he would be right back, and left.
He left me.
They immediately dove into the fabric, and I issued a warning. “Get out of the fabric, do not go between the rolls.”
Why did I even bother to speak? They ignored me. They giggled, they wiggled, they played. I asked them again, received a, “Yes, Ma’am,” and got about 25 seconds of listening from my second request.
Then they started, again.
I gave up. I felt the desire to parent leave my body, and I watched them with a stink in my eye, mulling over my options, and mustering up the effort it would take to play Mean Mommy, again.
About that time, a woman walked up, looked me up and down, looked the boys up and down, and walked away. I knew what she was thinking. She was thinking I was lazy, I didn’t discipline my children, and I was the World’s Worst Mother. Then an employee walked up, probably at the other woman’s request, and told them to get out of the fabric. She gave me the same glare. Another woman walked past, stared me down, and kept moving. It was like judgement central in the fabric area of Hobby Lobby.
They did what I wouldn’t do to the woman in Target, and, at that moment, I realized something: between the seven weeks of scooting on this ankle, and the overwhelming exhaustion it brings, Hobby Lobby had bested me.
See, I’ve hauled two toddlers around before. I’ve managed them like a pro. My kid has always been the best behaved kid–not because he was born that way, but because I have enforced discipline and expectations from a young age, and I have never allowed anything but respect.
In that moment, when I felt those women’s judgment, I gave up. I tapped out.
Mr. M came back at some point. I told him they were driving me crazy. I told the kids they were driving me crazy. I told them not to touch anything else … fifteen to forty more times. They both left the store owing me five minutes of time out, which I then stretched into ten minutes because I just need more silence in my life.
Sometimes, as parents, we’ve given up. We’ve hit our wall. That wall, those moments, they have and will never define our parenting skills. Yesterday did not erase my eight years of awesome discipline. I had to acknowledge my failure, but I also had to acknowledge that I’m human, and part of humanity is failure.
After I admitted that to myself, I pulled myself up, straightened my shoulders, and lined the kids up for a “You’re driving me nuts” photo op.