I am a recently single mother of three kids under seven years old. I still struggle with effectively managing my brood on my own, especially outside the house. The logistics of getting them in and out of the car I find to be a particular trial. I often think a kidnapper would have an easier time tempting them into the backseat than I do. Still, I knew practice was the only way I was going to feel comfortable. So the other night I packed them all up and ventured out for dinner and a movie. It went well! I was bringing the fun at a very high level (take that, weekend dad!). I was feeling pretty good about myself as I buckled them into car seats for the long ride home.
A short way down the road, disaster struck. Gross doesn’t even begin to cover it.
I heard the unmistakable sound of barfing in the backseat. My three-year-old was emptying his belly full of chocolate milk and French fries as his older siblings screamed like they were being murdered. I kept driving, knowing I was woefully ill-prepared to deal with this issue. My car had recently been detailed and I knew I didn’t have so much as a baby wipe or fast food napkin on-hand to help me.
I also knew I had to do something quickly; my older boy was making noises like he, too, might throw up just from proximity to the vomit.
I pulled over in a golf course parking lot. At least it was raining torrentially — nature had my back. I got my little guy out of the car and set him down in the elements to rinse. I took a quick second to ransack my glove box and – Eureka! An emergency maxi pad! The perfect tool for any disgusting situation. I ripped it open and dampened it in a puddle, swabbing his little face, jacket, and in-between his fingers. My other kids got the same treatment for their barf splatters.
Lastly I attacked the interior of my car, wiping away most of the yuckiness before removing the floor mats to let the gutter run off clean the last of the vile bile.
By now my kids are chatting animatedly about other times they have seen someone toss their cookies. We are miraculously giggling as we drive home, windows down. I was satisfied with my performance, confident that I had earned my Mom-Scouts badge in creative solutions.
The next day I spent at least forty-five minutes cleaning my interior. I used so much carpet cleaner that it still stings to breathe in there. Once again, I loaded the kids up and headed out for civilization. Alerted by a sound of distress, I look in my mirror – one of my kids has a bloody nose. A gusher.
It’s practically a blood beard, running down his chin like a freaky Fu Manchu mustache.
I kicked myself for not restocking my emergency maxi pad. Actually a tampon would have been perfect. But I had nothing. So I did what any self respecting mom-scout would do: I made him take off his boot and use his own sock to staunch the blood flow. It worked pretty well, actually.
Though many would say I should take a lesson from my experiences and try to be more prepared when out and about with my kids, I say nay. I am the kind of mom who laughs (hysterically) in the face of danger. I take refuge in the ridiculousness and find comfort in the knowledge that I will one day yell at my teenage son that I will clean his mouth out with a Kotex again if I have to. Because parenting is about innovation and banking silly memories that make horrible things easier.
Or at least, my style of parenting is.
Anonymous Mom is a column of motherhood confessions, indiscretions, and parental shortcomings selected by Mommyish editors. Under this anonymous byline, readers can share their own stories, secrets, and moments of weakness with complete anonymity.