Monday we hit 80 degrees and the kids and I enjoyed a plethora of outdoor fun. They played in their sand box and on their swing set, rode their bikes and colored on the sidewalk while I worked in the garden and started on my fabulous farmer’s tan.
Then Tuesday came in like a lion with colder temperatures, wind, rain and we were forced to stay indoors. For some reason, my younger two kids think I control the weather. After such a fantastic day Monday, being stuck indoors again was the last thing they (or I wanted). I tried my best to keep them entertained, but by Wednesday morning with even colder air, windier and wetter conditions they were absolutely miserable.
The whining probably started about 9:30am Tuesday and by Wednesday at 1pm it had escalated to a point where I was ready to lose my mind. We had colored, painted, read books, played computer games, played with Play Doh, built blocks, had a tea party, played hide and seek and played some board games. Yet still the whining continued….”Moooooooom! I want to go out…I want to play….I want to go for a walk…I want it to be Spring!!!”
So I did search the internet for more fun crafts to try? Did I drive 50 miles to the closest museum to break the rainy whiney blues?
I put on DVD after DVD. When they were done with DVD’s we watched a half dozen Backyardian’s episodes, ate junk food, played Wii, and then watched some more TV. We dined on a gourmet style dinner of mac & cheese and hotdogs. We finished off the evening with ice cream.
I went to bed Wednesday night vowing to not to leave that spot between my sheets until the sun made an appearance. Lucky for me, Thursday came and the sun was shining, birds were chirping and the temperatures were climbing. The kids and I moved slowly at first, almost hungover from the previous day’s bad parenting.
I felt like I was going to need to make up for the mind melting activities of yesterday afternoon and evening. To be perfectly honest, I was feeling kind of guilty about my short temper, turning my kid’s attention over to the television, and my poor nutritional choices.
So we had our fill of the gorgeous weather. We played in the sandbox, I pushed them on the swings, they “helped” me in the garden, and just cause I felt so bad, I decided to squeeze in an extra walk in the stroller.
The kids were pretty quiet now due to all the running around, and I was feel reborn as a parent. The kids would point out the occasional dog, say “hello” to the other neighbors who had the same great idea that we did, and seemed to be just happy. I heaved a heavy sigh of relief, and I smiled as Cecilia repeated the sound. What a perfect Spring day…for some.
As we came headed down the next street, now just two blocks from home, I saw an empty stroller on the curb. It sat half in the overgrown grass of the vacant (still waiting to be built on) lot, and a woman, dog and small boy were about 6ft into the tall grass and weeds. “Maybe there’s a frog or something in there,” I pondered to myself as we came closer. Although, I’d never let my kids walk in there, frog or no frog, because there are ticks and snakes and other undesirables calling these 20 or so un-built home sites, home.
The dog was pulling wildly at the leash on the woman’s wrist and she was uncensored as she released a string of curse words in the canine’s direction. The dog didn’t pause and continued to leap and now bark as we approached. I was still trying to figure out this odd scene. The boy seemed to be bent over forward in front of the woman who I assumed was his mother. She had her back to us and didn’t seem, until this moment, to have noticed us, and now half turned to see who was approaching.
The woman’s left arm jerked around and she pulled hard at the un-obedient dog. Her sunglasses held some of her hair from her face, but I could see she was visibly sweating. She too was bent over and suddenly, as she half turned, and our eyes met, I knew exactly what this poor woman was doing.
As this woman worked to restrain her dog, she also worked to balance her son who was sort of squatting, bare assed in front of her. She held in her right hand a white plastic bag that she was desperately trying to grab with her left hand as well. The bag, I’m sure was initially intended for the dog. At this moment, however, the bag was being used as a toilet for her 2-3 year old boy.
“There’s more coming out, Mom!” he yelled.
My eyes locked with this woman’s. At first neither of us said a word. She didn’t need to say anything, her eyes, filling with tears and her cheeks a scarlet red, said it all.
“How did I end up here?”
“What did I do to deserve this?”
“This is not what I expected from parenthood or life in general”
“I told this little jerk to go to the potty seven times before we left”
“I am standing in an overgrown lot up to my knees in grass, weeds, bugs, and toddler shit.”
My mouth opened and no sound came out. I wasn’t so much shocked at what I saw, but more surprised that it was happening to someone other than me. This is the life I live and yet there she was. I knew my mere presence was making her life even more unbearable at the moment, but I hoped that she saw in my eyes that I’ve been there before too (not literally in a grassy area holding human poop in a bag, but close).
I asked as kindly as I could if there was anything I could do? Hold the dog perhaps? And just as the woman was about to turn me down the boy stood up, half pulled up his underwear, and announced he was “all done.”
At this point my kids were pointing and questioning why they couldn’t go into the grass, so seeing that the situation was under control, I continued forward with a sympathetic glance. She did say thank you, and I just waved and continued home.
It was in that last block and a half that I really felt just terrible for her. Here I was feeling redeemed, feeling like a great Mom, and then I bore witness to another parent having an as-bad-as-it-gets kind of moment. Half of me just ached for her and the other half felt thankful. Thank you to the gods of parenting that wasn’t me, not today. Not after the last two days…maybe her misfortune was the universe trying to show me on those worst of the worst days, or in the most embarrassing moments of motherhood, I’m not alone…
I had never seen the woman before, but I wish I knew where she lived…I’d bring her a bottle of wine.