Lessons learned in an unglamorous life
Parenthood is not a glamorous sport. Often it can be downright humbling. Some days, it sneaks a toe over the line into “humiliating.”
Last Sunday was one of those days. We got up early with a mission – get ourselves and the two boys dressed and ready for church. We had been shamefully absent from Sunday services in the few months since the new baby arrived, and we vowed to do better.
So after breakfast and diaper changes, Tom dressed two-year-old Adam while I dressed the baby and packed the diaper bag with extra changes of clothes for both kids, just in case of a leaky diaper or spilled drink. After all, a smart mother has to plan ahead for any mishap.
Then I began searching for something to wear myself. I hadn’t worn anything but jeans and casual shirts since I put my maternity clothes away, so I had to dig way back into the guest room closet to find the light beige, dressy pants I’d worn more than a year ago. I found them and put them on, hoping they would fit again. I had to suck in hard and remove one rib, but I did get them buttoned. I put on a silk, button-up shirt and emerged from the closet looking more put together than I had in a long time – nice clothes, wrinkle and spit-up free.
Church was great. Neither kid cried. All was well. Afterward, we headed to a nice restaurant to meet some friends for lunch. Once we parked, I climbed into the backseat, brushed aside several toddler toys, and sat between the two carseats to feed the baby. Once he was fed, burped and back in his carrier, we all got out and headed for the restaurant door. I led the way with Adam, and Tom followed behind with the baby.
Our friends had not arrived yet, so we asked for a large table to accommodate four adults and two kids. The hostess led us all the way through the large, crowded restaurant and finally stopped at a booth near the back. I was just about to sit down when a waitress leaned over to me and said in a hushed voice, “Ma’am, you’ve got something hanging off your behind. I think it may be Silly Putty.”
I reached behind me and, to my horror, felt a melted, gooey mess as well as half of the Silly Putty egg that the goo had come out of. Even worse, it was blue Silly Putty on light beige pants. It practically screamed for attention.
It was one of those moments when you wish for the earth to instantly open up and swallow you whole. I had just traipsed through one of the nicest restaurants in town in front of a capacity crowd with a blue gob of Silly Putty and a plastic egg dangling from my butt.
If only we had been at McDonald’s or Chuck E. Cheese, it would not have been nearly as embarrassing. At those kinds of places, it’s probably not all that uncommon to see an oblivious mother with Silly Putty stuck to her butt. But this was no McDonald’s. This was the kind of place where the napkins are linen and the patrons don’t wear Silly Putty.
I tried in vain to scrape off the melted putty, but it was no use. If my butt had been a car, it was totaled. A complete loss. Inside the diaper bag were extra clothes for the kids, but there was nothing for me. I had not prepared for being the one wearing the mess. After lunch, during the long walk out of the restaurant, I held the diaper bag over my behind and ordered Tom to follow close behind.
On the drive home, I berated Tom for not noticing the blue egg on my behind before the waitress spotted it. “I was carrying the baby,” he said. “How was I supposed to know I should be looking for an egg hanging from your rear?”
I fired back, saying, “I bet you would have noticed if Shania Twain walked in front of you with a Silly Putty egg on her butt!”
“Maybe so,” he teased, “but then again I don’t see her butt everyday.”
Needless to say, this was not the right response. Note to husbands everywhere: When your wife has just been seen in public with blue goo and a plastic egg on her butt, do not say anything which might imply that hers is also an old, familiar butt.
Despite my humiliation, the important thing is that I learned a few things today that might prevent this type of social tragedy in the future. No. 1: Never let your kid play with Silly Putty in the car. No. 2: Check your behind before walking through a fancy restaurant. No. 3: Pack some mishap clothes of your own. You never know when you might be the one who accidentally lays an egg.
This column was originally published September 26, 2004, in the Northwest Arkansas Times.