You know those moments where you set out to do something simple and straightforward, and you end up in a complicated situation that leaves you with 25% more gray hair and ready to put your kids up for adoption?
Mine started with a hypothetical earache. My baby was fussy… the happiest, sunshiniest baby in the whole world was crying all the time. My spidey senses (aka mommy-instincts) were tingling, and I knew something was up. I made an appointment with our new pediatrician – which is an hour and a half away from our house – and made the questionable decision to take all three kids along.
I hauled them into the office, and in between policing my older two spinning in circles on the doctor’s chair (at least we were in the presence of medical care in case one flew off and got a concussion…), I gave the standard “I think there’s something wrong with my baby” speech to the doctor.
“She’s just… not acting normal. I mean, there may be nothing wrong. She hasn’t had a fever. But she’s crying a lot. She doesn’t normally cry. I mean, she cries… she’s a baby… but not like this.”
You know that feeling where you’re sure something’s wrong with your kid, but you don’t want to feel stupid if there isn’t and you’ve driven 90 minutes one way to a new doctor who doesn’t know you and doesn’t know that you aren’t generally a paranoid mom?
I am ashamed to admit that I was a tiny bit relieved when she did, in fact, have an infection in her right ear. Not a major one, but enough that it was definitely causing the fussiness. It wouldn’t be a big deal to treat it. But she also had a diaper rash that we’d been battling for literally half her life, and nothing was working, not even the prescription cream I’d gotten at our last appointment. So this time, the doctor wrote up a prescription for a compound cream, but then informed me that no “typical” pharmacy would make it for me. I’d have to go to an old fashioned drugstore right around the corner from them.
“Do they have a drive through?” I asked, hopefully and naively as my middle child laid down flat on the floor while her older brother sat on her. “No, I’m sorry…” said the doctor, who is also a mom and understood the terror that seized me in that moment.
Well, we needed this rash gone. Sooooo, around the corner we went. I carried the baby seat in the door as I tried to make the older two hold hands and not touch anything. It was like, in the eloquent words of Mother Superior, trying to keep a wave upon the sand.
“Oh, I’m sorry, we received the faxed prescription, but it’ll be about twenty minutes until it’s ready,” said the lady behind the counter.
In the meantime, my son had noticed the old fashioned soda fountain. “Mom, I’m hungry! And they have hotdogs and ice cream!” he declared. “HOOOOOT DOOOOODD!” said the two year old.
I turned two complete circles as I looked around and tried to come up with a strategy for surviving this. There was no escape route. The kids were hungry, and so was I. Leaving and coming back would be almost as complicated as just staying, I thought. So, I took a deep breath and decided that we would be eating lunch here.
I arranged the kids on the tiny little stools at the tiny little tables that are meant for dainty British queens to eat tiny sandwiches at, not for restless toddlers eating french fries and ketchup.
I’m not going to go over all the excruciating details of that lunch, but here are the highlights:
One woman complimented me on being “brave”, and I awkwardly mumbled something about actually being stuck here and not doing this by choice. She blinked at me and left.
A total stranger had to help me put mustard on my hot dog, because I couldn’t put the crying, hungry, ear-infectiony baby down.
My daughter admired a woman’s pristine white purse… by caressing it with her fingers… that were covered in ketchup. I wanted to crawl under the table and die.
I spent the entire time reminding my kids that they got milkshake if they ate all their food. My son did, my daughter didn’t. Then I had to attempt to console a sobbing two-year-old out because she, the ice cream lover, did not get milkshake while her prefers-a-salad-over-ice-cream older brother did. There was a lot of staring. One person even said “awww, poor thing,” causing her to realize that she had the general public on her side and double down her efforts.
She still did not get milkshake.
The baby cried the whole time. The whole. time.
After we’d finished our meal and spread sufficient amounts of ketchup onto all the white tables, chairs, and purses, I approached the pharmacy counter again… where I learned it would be yet another 15 minutes. I almost cried.
I was parked RIGHT outside the door RIGHT beside the counter, and the door was glass. “Look,” I told the lady (who did not have enough sympathy for me), “I am going to go out there, buckle my kids in, feed my baby, then in 15 minutes I’m going to RUN in this door, grab the prescription which will be ready (right???), then leave. Okay?”
“…okay…” she said.
So we did. It takes a solid five minutes for me to buckle all my children in. I did this (praying desperately that no one would have to go potty), fed the baby, ran like a madwoman into the pharmacy and grabbed the diaper cream, keeping one eye on the door the whole time and hoping that no one would decide my kids had been abandoned and call the authorities.
We left. And then… someone had to go potty.