If there's one thing I've learned in 18 years of momming, it's that every mom out there feels relief when they hear stories of other-mother-mishaps.
There's nothing like knowing you are not alone in your failure to make you feel just a teensy bit better about your single-digit approval rating.
So, I thought I would take a few minutes to share a tale of my own. One of - for the record. There are plenty of stories to choose from, I just happened to think of this one recently so I'm choosing it over the others. But just to be clear - there. are. others.
Anyway - just in case there's a mom out there who hasn't spoken to another human over the age of 14 in five days. Or if there's a mom out there only seeing Instagram mom's who are in their current take-perfect-Fall-photos-phases.
Let's. keep. it. real.
For those three perfect photos they posted, they likely filled up their phone's memory with similar poses of kids screaming, nose-picking and pulling their skirts up over their heads.
For every mom out there who has a moment of holy-schmoly-my-kids-are-great - there are probably three moments where she was certain those same children were possessed by the devil.
So just in case you need one - a story of failure for you to read, gain confidence, relate to or, if all else fails, throw in my face if we're ever in a heated argument.
Picture as I recall:
I was at Target with my two oldest boys. My youngest was hanging out in the womb. It was August. I was 9 months pregnant, sweating with every movement my body made, taking my two boys (ages 5 and 2) to Target.
Are you picturing this?
However you are picturing my pregnant stomach - picture it bigger. It was protruding. This was, after all, baby number three.
So, we're shopping in the baby section, me and these two turd-heads. I'm stocking up on things I may need, when my five-year old tells me he needs to use the bathroom.
I groan. I had just gotten started. Five is that horrible age with boys where you feel like they're maybe too little to go in by themselves but they're too old to go into the woman's bathroom with you. There's always an embarrassing moment waiting to happen taking a five-year-old into the woman's bathroom.
This was not ideal.
So, this time, I asked him. "Would you please go into the boy's bathroom on your own?"
"I'll stand right here. I won't leave. Please. I don't want to leave the cart and haul your brother in to the bathroom too."
"Fiiiiiiine." Park cart. Glare at anyone who is thinking about doing a little cart shopping from my just-started stash. Pick up the two-year old and in to the bathroom we all go.
Job done. Hands washed. Back to the baby section we go.
I set down the two-year old because he and his brother are playing a game they find hilarious where they look through the clothes racks at one another and then laugh uncontrollably when the other one spots them.
It's a loud game but I don't care because they're occupied, I'm shopping and blissfully, Target is relatively empty at this time of day.
And then suddenly, while staring at an impossibly tiny sleeper, it seems kind of quiet.
A little too quiet.
"Not funny, you two, come here."
The five-year old appears.
"Where's your brother?"
"I can't find him in his hiding spot."
"Keep looking but stay by me. ...Maddox. Come out here - mommy needs to talk to you."
I waddle and bend in rack after rack. Panic rising with every step.
Waddle, bend, "Maddox!"
Waddle, bend, "Maddoxy, come here. Game's over."
Waddle, bend, "Come on, buddy!"
My voice is getting louder and I don't care.
I stand up straight now. "MADDOX!" I shout.
No blond haired two-year old comes out. But... a nice lady in a Target red shirt does. "Ma'am, do you need help?"
"My son. I can't find him." I say, so fast that the entire thing sounds like one word. At this moment, the five-year old appears at my side.
"That one?" she asks, pointing to my eldest, like I'm a giant moron who should consider having her head examined. And possibly her tubes tied.
"No. He's two. Blond. Wearing a Cars shirt."
She seems convinced I'm not experiencing pregnancy brain and really do have a missing two-year old and raises her radio to her mouth. I do not hear anything beyond the words "Code Adam" because all I can hear is the sound of my own heart pounding in my chest as I still search in the racks for my missing tow-head.
I start to walk the aisle to the front of the store. I know I need to get out. If someone took him and they have him I have to leave and find him. I take Nolan's hand and on my second mad-dash step here comes my bubbly blond toddler barreling toward me grinning.
"Mommy, I did it!" he exclaims, with complete glee.
If what he "did" was take seven years off my life then he's right - he did.
I fall to my knees and open my arms and he leaps into them, completely oblivious of the protruding bump between us. "I went potty by myself. Just like you towd Nowen. I went potty in the boys bafroom."
My son. At the age of two, heard me asking my five-year old to use the boy's bathroom and saw my exasperation at having to take him into the women's restroom - decided to take off and use the men's room ON HIS OWN.
How he reached any of the necessary things - I have no idea. He probably just peed in the drain, bypassed the hand washing all together and then waited for someone else to open the door so he could get out. That's the best I can figure since, you know, I WASN'T THERE OR EVEN ANYWHERE NEAR.
I did a weird laughing cry. The nice lady in the red shirt cancelled the Code Adam. My two year old asked me if I was sad. And I somehow managed to hold my head up while I paid for my supplies, with my five-year old, my two-year old and my protruding stomach announcing to the whole world that no, this lady is not, in fact, done procreating. Despite the fact that she clearly can't handle the two she has - she's gonna pop out another. Actually, judging from the size of that preggo belly, she might be popping out multiple.
God bless America.
So, the next time your teen tells you you're "the worst mom ever," or your son breaks something, or your daughter cuts her own hair or your toddler Sharpies the wall - you can remember there was once a pregnant mom whose two-year old went to use the public men's room, by himself, because she was exasperated at having to take her other child into the women's restroom.
Yes. There really is a human like that, on the planet.
Also, you should know that despite further stupidity from this point - I did manage to adopt this as my mantra:
God be with you, Mamas.
At your highest approval rating and your lowest - know that there are others who've likely been there, done that, had the Code Adam called.