It all started when both of my girls refused to take their damn naps. There is something sacred in that 1.5 – 2 hour time frame that sets the tone for my entire existence as a mother…and I missed it. Story time at the library runs a little too close to nap time, sometimes forcing me to rush home belting song lyrics at the top of my lungs in order to keep the kids from falling asleep in the car. The only problem is my kids are already used to me doing that and have since become immune. In fact, at this point a completely silent car devoid of music might be more alarming to them.
Either way, I failed to keep Zoey awake on this particular trip and upon arriving home I was faced with the most dreaded decision any mother has had to make: do I leave her sleeping in the car or attempt to transfer her to the crib?
This is a very complex dilemma. The leave-her-in-the-car option either becomes a one-act play of me checking her breathing in the car seat every 5 minutes with enough paranoia and obsession to rival Shakespeare or worse; she wakes up immediately because the car has turned off. My children could sleep through an earthquake, a zombie apocalypse, or the very real scenario of falling out of bed flat onto one’s face (true story), but the minute I take the keys out of the ignition its as if I’ve dumped a bucket of cold water over their heads. I say this because this is exactly what their reaction would suggest. They don’t just wake up, they WAKE UP SCREAMING!
The transfer-her-to-the-crib option comes with just as much anxiety. An attempt like this requires planning, skill, and the kind of daring bravado seen in complex heist movies on the big screen. I start by preparing the room. I set up the mood lightning, the sound machine plays a soothing ocean noise, and my shoes are off. A failed attempt ends in a full day of supervising two toddlers with NO BREAK so the stakes are high.
On this particular day I failed miserably. Zoey awoke immediately after I unbuckled her seat belt. My afternoon of solitude was now impossible. Instead, I would try to enforce some quiet play while attempting to do all the amazing, indulgent things I had planned during naptime like putting away the dishes and folding clothes. A girl can dream.
I glanced at the clock out of desperation. Yep, still four hours to go until my relief pitcher would get home from work. I was going to have to rally. I opened the sliding glass door for the dog to come back inside and was immediately hit with a smell so rotten it could only be one thing. Death, the dog smelled like death. Forgetting I was in the company of toddlers I screamed aloud at the filthy canine, “Ugh Cooper, you stink! Did you roll in a dead rat or something?” I rushed him back outside and slammed the sliding door behind him. I could see the wheels turning in Emma’s brain as she made a connection to her favorite nursery rhyme, The Three Little Kittens, “Yeah, I think it was a rat, mommy. I smell a rat close by.”
Just as I was contemplating how I was going to find the time to scrub the stench of decomposing flesh off of my sheepish looking beagle I saw something terrifying out of the corner of my eye. It came flying towards my face like a bat out of hell. I use that analogy because this thing was roughly the size of a small bat.
I do not know what insect it was that was dive-bombing at me in the middle of my kitchen straight down from the skylight. It could have been a huge queen bee or a giant flying beetle. I’ll never know. Because I immediately did what any good mother would do. I grabbed my youngest child and screamed at the older one to follow me as I darted towards my bedroom and slammed the door behind me. I of course opened it again when the older kid came knocking; she’s still not very quick on her feet.
As we huddled together on my bedroom floor with no toys or television in sight I was taken aback by what it must have been like for all the mothers before me who had to do the world’s hardest job without any of the very necessary tools in my modern day tool belt. Mad respect, mamas!
The kids began playing with whatever hidden treasures could be found in my night stand and rolling around on the carpet when I realized I would have to face my fears sooner than I’d hoped. Zoey approached me with a little sag in her pants, an odor in the air, and a naughty smile while shaking her fist by her head – the sign for potty.
There were no diapers or wipes in sight and Zoey is particularly prone to diaper rash so the clock was already ticking. Meanwhile, Cooper could be heard howling outside the sliding door as if whatever creature he rolled in had come back from the dead and was thirsty for blood. Emma could sense the fear in my eyes as I realized I was going to have to go out of the room for reinforcements. “Mom, is we gonna have to wait for Daddy to come home and get dat bug?” she asked.
That’s when the feminista in me about exploded. Wait a minute I can do this! I had just watched Wonder Woman the previous night so I was a bit inspired. I grabbed Emma by the shoulders with a little too much intensity. “Emma, I need you to stay here with your sister. Whatever happens, don’t open the door and keep her safe! I know you can do it big girl!”
I snuck out of the bedroom door and stealthily made my way to Zoey’s room to grab some diapers and wipes while the theme song for Mission Impossible played on a loop in my head. I headed back toward the bedroom without seeing the unidentified flying object in the kitchen along the way, which somehow made me even more nervous. I gave Cooper a shrug as I slipped past the slider door and made it back into the bedroom.
The girls were hovering in the corner awaiting my return and I realized this was my chance to prove to my daughters that women are brave too. Women can kill bugs. Women can fix stuff. But, also that women are smart. And this woman had made sure to snag her car keys, purse, and everyone’s shoes in order to make a quick exit out the front door. I’d like to think there are some battles that Wonder Woman wouldn’t fight either.