I had a glimpse into Mommyhood through my sister’s rearview mirror.
It ain’t always pretty, is it?
Not that I didn’t before, but now I really give all the Mommies out there a ton of credit for simultaneously keeping their eyes on the road and their sanity while driving with children.
Let me set the scene.
It was Monday afternoon. All three of Audrey’s boys were napping while we (the Pinks & Blues Girls – Audrey, Mom and I) were working in Audrey’s home office.
William and Alex were upstairs in their bedrooms, Benjamin was in the office with us.
Since it was after lunchtime, I decided that it would be a good time to make the trip to the post office (between noon and 12:30 it’s so crowded there, you’d think they were giving away free Forever stamps).
Audrey said she’d come to the PO with me, while Mom wanted to stay and work on a blog post. And that way she could stay with the still-napping boys.
But as soon as Audrey and I were leaving, we heard one of the boys upstairs crying for Audrey. And when one’s up, they’re both up.
So we went upstairs, retrieved William and Alex from their rooms, and decided to take them with us to the PO. That way, Mom would be able to write while Benjamin napped some more.
But by the time we came back downstairs with the two older boys, Benjamin had woken up. And he wanted his Mommy.
Audrey would have just stayed home with all three boys while Mom typed, but by that time William and Alex were all excited to go on an adventure to the PO.
Mom wouldn’t be able to concentrate on writing and typing with the baby crying, so it was decided that Audrey and I would take all three boys to the PO with us.
And so we buckled the boys into their seats in the minivan, William and Alex in the “way back” seats and Benjamin in the middle row. Audrey sat in the seat next to Benjamin so that he could see her.
So it was just me in the front. Steering the ship. My eyes on both the road and the activity in the back seats.
Our first stop along the way was Mom and Dad’s house (which is about a mile from Audrey’s). I was craving a Diet Cherry Coke in an if-I-don’t-have-one-now-someone-will-pay kind of way. (I blame PMS.)
And Mom and Dad always keep their fridge stocked just for me.
As I pulled into their driveway, the questions from the backseat began… William asked, “Janie, why are we going to Grandma and Pop-up’s house?”
“Auntie just has to get a drink really quick,” I explained.
William: “I want to come see Pop-up!”
Me: “Pop-up’s not home, honey. He’s at work. I’ll be right out and then we’ll go to the post office.”
William: “I want a sippy cup!”
Audrey: “Can you get him a sippy cup filled with water?”
Alex, chiming in: “Wa-wa! Wa-wa!”
Audrey: “OK, get two sippy cups with water. And get me a bottled water while you’re in there.”
As soon as I shut the car door, I heard the boys start crying. They wanted to come in. So I ran frantically around the kitchen, grabbing my soda and Audrey’s water, filling the sippy cups with water, juggling everything as I ran back outside as fast as I could.
And soon enough the boys have their sippy cups, Audrey had her water and I had my Diet Cherry Coke. All was right.
The post office is about five miles from my parents’ house. As we made our way there, we passed by Dunkin’ Donuts.
“Mommy! Let’s get munchkins!” William exclaimed.
“Not now, William. We’re going to the post office!” Audrey reminded him.
Alex: “Doh-doh! Doh-doh!”
I glanced in the rearview mirror to witness two minor tantrums taking place.
You know how Dire Straits wanted their MTV? Well William and Alex wanted their DD.
I relented. “All right, guys. I’ll stop at Dunkin’ Donuts on the way back home. But you have to settle down right now.”
Right then and there I found that the promise of a deep-fried ball of dough dipped in a glazed coating can be an effective tool in quieting a tantrum.
(Just a quick note to self.)
We made it to the post office without incident. Since the boys were being pretty quiet, and Benjamin was napping again, I decided to just run in quickly by myself to mail our packages and check our PO box.
By the time I came back out 5 minutes later, there was minor chaos in the minivan.
Benjamin had woken up and was getting fussy. Alex had taken his shoes off and was inserting his socked foot into his mouth. William was on the donut tangent again.
Back at the helm, I tried to get to Dunkin’ Donuts in a safe yet timely manner. In the rearview mirror, I could see William and Alex playing and laughing together in their carseats, but getting a little rough with each other.
Since Audrey was tending to Benjamin, it was up to me to calm them down.
I couldn’t believe it when my Mom’s voice and words came right out of my mouth: “Boys, if you can’t settle down, we’re not getting munchkins!”
The threat was palpable enough to put an end to the horseplay.
We made it to our Dunkin’ Donuts stop, and the two munchkins for each William and Alex were much-appreciated special treats.
We were able to have a fairly quiet rest of the drive home, interrupted only once by Alex’s shoe flying through the air.
His “trow thoe” warning would have been better received, I think, had it happened prior to said “thoe” being “trown.”
As I walked back into Audrey’s house, carrying Alex and covered in sticky honey-glazed fingerprints, I asked Mom, “How did you and Dad make it through all the roadtrips with us four kids?”
It was a rhetorical question. I don’t think Mom could have answered if she tried.
And so I have a newfound appreciation not only for my parents’ sanity, but for the sanity of every parent who must contend with the hazards of driving, screaming children, shoes flying in the air, and demands for donuts all at once.
Because after just 30 minutes of that the other day, I was ready for a nap!