No longer is my persona the front seat of my life. My toddler’s and baby’s happiness, safety, and well-being take up more mindspace than my PR agent, if I had one, would like.
Sometimes I’m extremely optimistic about that which I can handle by myself in public with my children. Infant and newly-two? Psh. Bring it on. When Clarity is well-rested and well-fed, outings with them can be the highlight of my week. But once she crosses the threshold into needing-to-sleep, she turns.
After going grocery shopping, we spent yesterday late afternoon at the mall. It’s one of her favorite places — toys, shoes, stuffed animals, hallways, jewelry, games, sparkly things, and lots of people. No purchase necessary. She’s distracted for hoooooours playing and modeling and giggling. But then, amplified by a shorter-than-usually-short afternoon nap, her feisty side emerged.
“Want a bite of chicken? How about some cabbage?” I asked her. We had just sat down to eat some dinner in the food court. Serenity was snuggled up to my chest in the baby carrier leaving me little room to help Clarity eat. But it didn’t matter anyway; eating wasn’t in her plans. She threw her plastic fork on the ground, lifted her pointer finger in front of her face, squinted her mischievous twinkling eyes right at me, poised her body into a position of know-how, and whispered, “I ree ree back!” [I’ll be right back]. Scooting off the chair and in bare feet (she had taken her shoes and socks off, a battle I wasn’t willing to fight at the moment), she ran faster than I had seen her run, ever. I glanced at the pile o’ stuff on the table next to our uneatened dinner and quickly felt way in over my head. Securing Serenity against my belly and grabbing what I quickly assessed to be most important, I chased after Clarity. She was already in a prescription eyeglasses store trying on $200 lenses. Laughing as she saw me, I knew I had to play this one correctly. Tell her to give the frames to me, I risked a tightened toddler grip that could break them. I approached her slowly like one would approach a rattlesnake. I snatched the glassses from her just in time, only to have her dart away and grab higher-priced prescription sunglasses instead. Arms full and baby frustrated, I continued to chase Clarity down until I grabbed her arm. Laughing her head off, she limped her body and kicked her legs, making a “lets hold hands and walk out of the store” approach impossible. My only hope was to grab her with one arm, hoist her up to my hip, and hold her tightly.
I walked back to the food court to gather what remained of our pile and dinner and held it with one arm. Clarity on the other, and Serernity in the middle, I was a walking shopping cart, TV-dinner table, and Stroller in one.
This is when I felt a cool draft on my lower back. I realized that in the maddness my shirt had ridden up, my beltless pants had ridden down, and I was gracing those behind me with a “plumber’s” view. My left arm as the only appendage trying to secure a two-year-old using all of her energy to escape, my right arm completely occupied with keeping our belongings from spilling all over the place, my muscles began to tremble and I had no choice. The world was just going to see some unsightly skin of mine. And I just couldn’t afford the energy to care. The threshold of embarrassment raises exponentially during motherhood.