This may be a surprise to some of you. Sometimes, I do not think things all the way through. I will pause for you to get over your initial shock.
For those of you who know my husband well, you may understand how complicated this can make things. You know how you say that people are just making things up as they go? Mitch, literally, is ALWAYS making things up as he goes. Literally the SECOND an idea enters into his head, he has all ready done it and is moving on to the next crazy idea.
Of the two of us, I am the more level-headed. But that doesn’t really mean much. If we were Lewis and Clark, if we made it to the Pacific, we would have been more surprised than anyone. In fact, I’m sure that at several points I– Lewis– would have turned to Mitch– Clark– and said, “This is a DI-SAS-TUH.”
So, today, I had this great idea that I would just take Maren out to the park for a little stroll. Her favorite thing to do on the planet is lie under a tree and look up through the leaves. And there are TONS of parks in Omaha that are perfect for this kind of activity, and lots of pieces of sky that Maren hasn’t stared at yet.
So I packed us up: two diaper bags, a blanket, some books, two bottles, and a cuban panini from Panera with extra sweet and spicy pickle chips. You know. The necessities.
So I march us both over to a grove of trees and lie the blanket down, and then lie Maren underneath it. Mistake number one.
A little bit later, Maren rolled over to get a better vantage point on the ant that was crawling through the grass, and I notice purple spots all over her onesie. Her cute white onesie that says “Watch Me Grow!” and makes me smile every time she wears it because– for real– WATCH HER GROW. She could go on America’s Got Talent and her talent is getting bigger, and in that 90 seconds she’d probably put on half an inch and 12 ounces. And for sure, her head would gain some circumference. That head. You know, her head is ready for 9 month sized outfits, but her body is still in the 6 months. I tried to blame her giant head on Mitch, who is a giant everything, but he trumped me by pointing out my brother, who has a head so large that he has to special order hats. When he was in the high school band, he ended up marching with a doo-rag because those cool plumey hats didn’t come big enough. When he was in the school musical in a cast of over a hundred, we could always pick him out because he was the Head. We call him The Biggest Head in ShowBiz.
But I digress.
I moved her, somewhat frantically, and saw that the purple spots were also on her blanket. And then I looked up and realized– OH. We’re sitting under a mulberry tree.
Now, the onesie and the blanket aside, I was sitting in my favorite pair of capris. So I spent the next several moments wondering how I was going to get back up and walk to my car in front of all the nice families, looking like I’d murdered an entire family of Smurfs on my ass (Yes, smurfs. Their skin is blue, but I’m sure they bleed red just like the rest of us. Hence: purple.)
I made up my mind that I would just sit there for a long time, until most of the small children had walked away. They were just the rize size to be right on eye-level with my Smurf Cemetery.
Then I noticed that lots of people were walking up a path that I didn’t know about, and I thought, hey, lookit. A path. And just like that, I was packing up Maren and the diaper bags and loading up the stroller for a walk up The Path.
Well, it was a short walk. Because at the end of The Path, there was a huge staircase….. and a gravel path going off to the left.
And I thought, hey, lookit. A path.
Now, we have a good stroller. A really fancy, well built stroller. We’ve taken it off-roading on several occasions, and it does just fine. Which is good, because my city is one of those that will inexplicably, randomly, and quite suddenly, not have a sidewalk. So there you’ll be, with your cute little family trying to look like a Norman Rockwell painting, and then, presto chango, you are dodging fifty SUVs (because everyone in Omaha drives an SUV) and bikers are yelling “On your left! On your left!” (because if you don’t have an SUV, its because you ride your bike everywhere, and thereby feel that you own the road because, after all, you are SAVING THE PLANET) while you pick and choose your way through the street, waiting for the sidewalk to suddenly exist again.
I swear. They MOVE those suckers.
So here we are on this path with the soft gravel, and the soft gravel turns to dirt. And I’m babbling like a lunatic for the benefit of Maren, who is looking all over at the trees, the leaves, and the mud.
I had just said, “Oh look, a little stream….” And then realized that the ‘little stream’ went right across The Path. But it looked like, if I stuck to the edge, I could probably get through it. AND WHO KNOWS WHAT IS AT THE END OF THE PATH. WE MUST SEE IT.
So I push her through– at one point I had to go around to the front of the stroller and pull– and we go around a bend and there we are. The end of the path.
Oh. My. God.
Okay friends. I want you to imagine this. You are at the park, having a beautiful moment on this nice sunny afternoon, and you hear all this cussing mixed with baby babble coming from the woods. So your whole group stops what they’re doing, and look at the spot where its coming from, as a crazy lady and her huge stroller come crashing out of the brush. And your entire group gives them the stank eye.
Friends– have you ever been given 600 stank eyes? I have. Because this afternoon, at the end of The Path, I stumbled into SOMEONE’S WEDDING.
And it’s not like I could have just crashed into the back left or something. Oh no. Fifteen feet from a groomsman. One of the bridesmaids mouth totally dropped.
And, to be honest, my first thought was, That shade of red isn’t flattering on ANYONE.
I spun that stroller around as fast as I could– showing the entire congregation my Smurf Cemetery– and started pushing my baby back through the mud.
Now, those of you with children (or with common sense) might realize what pushing a stroller through mud is like. My flip flops were splashing mud all over my back, and the stroller wheels were spitting mud all over my front.
I tried to push on the other side of the path this time, thinking that it wouldn’t be as bad, and it wasn’t. Well, I mean, the MUD wasn’t trying to suck us down like in the Princess Bride and their in that forest with the fires and the big rat things and the sand that eats people.
But worse for this reason: Mosquitoes.
Holy Lord. Mosquitoes.
I started cussing again, trying to be quiet this time, as the bugs swarmed. I don’t really have a huge problem with bugs as a species, but blood suckers? No thanks. Team Jacob, thank you very much.
It occurred to me, as I was swatting them off of myself, to shut Maren up in the stroller and run. But as I reached for the flaps to close her in, I counted seven. Seven. SEVEN bloodsuckers on my baby’s face.
Maren has had bugs on her before, including a spider. But there is nothing quite like seeing bugs actively sucking blood out of your child.
And here’s the other thing– what do you do? I can’t just start swatting my kid. So I tried to shoo them away. They danced off lazily and then landed back on her forehead.
Like I said– I don’t really have a problem with bugs. But when you’re a Mom, you automatically start to think the Worst Possible Thing Ever in the History of the World is going to happen to YOUR child. So my brain jumped straight from West Nile Virus and right onto malaria. I thought I was going to hyperventilate.
I shooed them off again and then shut her in the stroller, and tried to run. The mud grabbed at my flip flop, and it almost became a casualty of war. But at the last second, my toes dug in and the flip flop came out, and Maren and I catapulted off The Awful Path.
Maren was crying now, and I was about to join her. I was dreaming of a nice cold mojito and a nice warm bottle of formula as we walked back to the car and…… no keys.
NO EFFING GD KEYS.
So I walked back to the mulberry tree. I walked back to the car. I searched the trunk and the seat and the stroller, and Maren’s diaper. Then I started walking back to the mulberry tree, thanking God for two things: 1) A husband who loves me and 2) cell phones.
Mitch was at work, but said he’d come get me if I bought him a smoothie. I said a few choice things about extortion, and he laughed. While we walked back to the car, I noticed a very cute dog with an equally cute owner getting into the truck, and he literally did a double take at my muddy, smurf murdering appearance and screaming child. And I thought…. you know, it’s okay. This cute guy doesn’t have to think I’m anything special when I’m all covered with mud. Mitch is so weird, he probably loves me MORE when I look this way.