The last few weeks have been a bit out of routine for the Haggard family. Rebecca, my mother-in-law, had plans to visit her mom and sister in California mid-March and since I still need a babysitter for both myself and my children I decided to take the kids to my mom’s. Jason would stay at home and decompress and then we would return and he and Ian would head off to New York to see the Franci.
I was on an upward swing mood and energy-wise, and so I felt pretty confident I could handle the day’s drive to my mom’s alone with the kids and the preparation it would take to pull it off. Rebecca would be around to help me and watch the kids so I could pack the day before.
And really, once you’ve got the car packed and the children restrained, they can’t do much damage. I can deal with intermittent crying. And, as my friend endearingly calls all minivans “rolling studio apartments,” I would be driving in relative ease, with cruise control.
For merely my own entertainment, I would like to go off on a rabbit trail to explain how I view “drives.” There is the leisurely Sunday afternoon scenic type. There’s the epic road trip, the usual high school “I’m bored, let’s just go drive around” and the unfortunate ambulatory type. There’s the classic “let’s just keep driving until we resolve this fight and then we’ll go to our scheduled social function” kind. I understand that all these kinds of “drives” can be necessary for both sound mind and/or body.
But, if you’re driving across the state of Washington, you just want to get there. Let me rephrase that–I just want to get there. That’s the “drive” you’re taking (with me). I’m with children, people. This could take all day (and in my mind it should not). We must NOT stop unless absolutely necessary.
Yes, I have strong opinions about this. Ask my mom, who drove back to Seattle with me and made the mistake of having both a coffee and a Coke which caused her to have to pee more frequently that I thought a human being ought to.
(Note: Nursing or potty training children also throws this expectation all off for me. I know they have to eat and pee, but in my opinion you might as well just not leave your house at all, which is what I, and some other moms tend to do. Heck, if people love you enough they’ll come visit you.)
Anyway, back to the start of our trip. Packing went very smoothly the day before. I got to bed early, and loading the van in the morning by myself was a cinch (I prefer to do this alone anyway, because I am very particular about how it’s done–I think you see the theme that’s developing here). We were out of our driveway at 9am (that’s a PR for me) and heading out toward 1-90.
We breezed past the outlet mall in North Bend (stopping there is one hypocritical exception I will make, but I figured we’d go there on our way back to Seattle). We then reached Ellensburg, and then the halfway mark at the Gorge. This was major progress!
Somewhere past George I started talking to Elysia. Our conversation lasted about an hour and as we got to the end of it, I was hearing Imogen moaning in the back. We were close to Moses Lake and I had promised Ian we would stop there for lunch. We pulled up to a Subway/gas station combo and I said goodbye to Elysia.
Feeling extremely good about how things were going and that it was only around noon, I opened up the van doors to free my children. Unfortunately, what I found was Imogen covered in wet, runny poo. It had soaked through her clothes and down into the car seat.
This incident only slightly threw me off. Moms, we’ve been here before; it’s known territory. You just go with the “flow” so to speak and pun intended. I got Imogen out, wiped her and her seat down with a million wipes, did my best to contain the poo in all the places it had ended up while keeping her from wiggling out of the van, put fresh clothes on her, and put the changing pad in the car seat to cover the wet areas.
This was, I might add, witnessed by everyone walking in and out of the store since I had parked right in front of the door (for our convenience, of course).
I was hand-sanitized and with children, onto the next potty stop for Ian and myself. I decided to take with me only what was absolutely necessary, which was my keys and the little wallet that is attached to my key chain which contains my credit cards and driver’s license.
The gas station bathroom was very tolerable and included a handicap stall, which is a must for not only the handicapped, but also those of us with munchkins.
When we entered the stall, it was hard not to notice there were quite large skid marks in the toilet (I warned you with my title this post was going to contain foreign poop, so don’t blame me now for your own imagination). The term skid marks almost seems to understate the amount of poop that was actually in the toilet, but that is indeed what was in there.
I flushed the toilet, but it was to no avail. We would deal with it–I was not giving up the space this handicap stall afforded me.
Now I will say I also get kinda OCD about public restrooms. My basic motto with my kids is “Put your hands in your pockets and DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING!!!” I have developed a system with Ian where he can pee and still obey this rule.
With Imogen, I’m just going to have to discuss this with my counselor. I don’t know how I will emotionally manage seeing her bottom and hands on a public toilet seat. Shall we move on, please?
Ian had peed, Imogen was remaining mainly in one location and keeping her hands to herself, and so I took a very quick moment to go pee myself.
I completed my deed, thankful the children were not moving from their locations. But as I pulled my pants up I heard a dreaded “Ker plunk!”
I knew what it was before I turned around–my keys and key chain wallet were in the toilet–WITH SOMEONE ELSE’S POOP. I had stuck them in my back pocket since I didn’t have my coat on.
In moments like this you do not think; instead you act (I reached in and grabbed my keys)–and, admittedly, you say a cuss word or two. At least this is what I do.
But once that’s over, and this is really only a matter of seconds, you start thinking–there’s a small pause–you say another cuss word just to set in stone how you’re feeling in the moment, and then you assess. You wonder what you should do with the keys dangling from your finger and dripping onto the floor and the poop you can see on the side of your wallet.
And what about the children?! My solution was to just start yelling “Nobody move! NOBODY MOVE!”
And I still hadn’t pulled my pants up all the way. Agghh.
With a bit more yelling and frantic toilet paper grabbing I managed to set the keys down on a wad of TP (why I thought I needed to keep them “clean” from the floor germs I do not know). I tried not to think about how much my nasty hands were touching my undies and pants as I pulled them up. Any time the kids moved anywhere near the toilet I yelled “DON’T GO OVER THERE! STAY WHERE YOU ARE!”
Did I mention there was someone in the stall next to us? I bet if she had a button in her purse that said “Mom of the Year” she would have handed it over the stall wall and I would’ve proudly pinned it to the front of my shirt. But how I would have done this with poop germs on my hands I do not know.
We got ourselves out of the stall and I started frantically dousing the keys, wallet and everything in my wallet with water and soap, while trying to keep one eye on my children, particularly the smaller one who would want to wander back into a stall. My other child was just giving me the evil eye for yelling at him and all kinds of back talk was flying back and forth between he and I.
At a certain point I realized that dousing my key fab in water was probably not a good idea so I stopped that. And then the lady in the stall came out and I sheepishly looked at her and said “Why don’t you go ahead, we’re going to be a while.”
She turned out to be really nice and told me this long story about how she dropped her iPhone in the toilet once and how she was able to save it. She didn’t mention any poop was involved. And then she left. Sadly, no button, but also no condemnation.
At that point I decided we just needed to get out of Dodge. We were in a serious danger zone of germs and at least I could take the nasty germs I had with me, leave the rest in there, go out to the van, put a haz mat suit on, and get down to business.
“NO, we will not be stopping for a sandwich at this moment, Ian,” I said as we walked by a wide array of tempting Subway toppings. The response: more evil eye.
I put the kids in the back of the van and went to work. No, I didn’t really have a haz mat suit, but now I’m seriously considering getting one. What I did have were lots of baby wipes, Clorox disinfecting wipes and antibacterial hand stuff, all within hand’s reach. These are the kind of moments when having OCD tendencies comes quite in handy.
All my cards and wallet (still trying not to think about that wallet) ended up Cloroxed. My keys were scrubbed down as well and I doused myself and the kids with antibacterial rub.
And now we were going to go back in the store and eat? Yuck. But, I had promised Ian Subway, which is his all-time favorite. Plus, it is kinda negligent to not feed your children if they are hungry and if you have the ability to do so. So, we went inside and got our food to go. We were getting out of Dodge, remember?
As we got down the road Ian happily sat in the back and ate an entire 6-inch. I forced myself to eat because I figured part of my emotional state was because I was hangry in the first place. Imogen was just happy to not be sitting in her own poop.
It took me about ten miles or so down the road to stop being angry. And then I felt relieved it was over and all I could do was laugh at how disgusting it all was. I figured it was a milestone for me; there would’ve been times in the past where I would’ve stayed mad a lot longer and in the moment of drama acted a lot worse to my children or those around me.
I will say, I was glad Jason was not there. I don’t think I’m mature enough at this point to not have thrown my wrath on him, for no unexplainable reason or fault of his own.
I will confess that the first thing I did when I got to my mom’s house was to gruffly say to her “I don’t want to talk about it right now,” wipe down the car with more Clorox wipes, put my children in the bath, wash my clothes, and take a shower.
I threw the wallet away. No amount of soaking it in bleach would erase the memory of seeing someone else’s poop on it. And it was a nice wallet, too, and kind of sentimental to me. But now I use my cheap Fred Meyer one because why have nice things if they’re just going to end up in the toilet? (I acknowledge the irony and/or hypocrisy of this statement since I had left my new iPhone in the van before entering this traumatic scene).
There’s really no good way to end this story except to say that though awful, I’m growing up a bit. Even in the craziness that is my current emotional troubles, on a good day, we did okay with something unexpected. I did not curl up into a ball, burst into tears and let my children wander aimlessly through a gas station convenience store (or play in a public toilet). In fact, everything else about the drive was enjoyable both before and after the incident–and we made record time, too!
This just proves in a small way that God gives you what you need exactly when you need it. For me right now this isn’t a picture perfect response in a troubling situation. I’m just asking for a sound mind–and that’s what He gave me.