August 21, 2009

How I Lost My Mother-of-the-Year Nomination

From Sunday to Sunday it was a very bad week.

It started out exciting. On Saturday I decided I would make a bold move and take Julius with me to do the weekly grocery shopping on Sunday. We'd have a great time just the two of us and he could help me with the coupons. I envisioned fun scavenger hunts for grocery items and races to get things in the basket. Sugar plum faeries. Shooting stars. Swelling music montages and the two of us linking arms and skipping down the aisles like Dorothy and her sidekicks off to see The Wizard.

You know, the usual stuff that makes up my daily life.

It didn't really end up the way I had it all planned.

I thought a treat really must be in order so we went out to lunch. Over the menu Julius said he didn't really feel like eating and he just wanted some tea.

"Don't be silly," I said. "You have to eat something."

"I'm not hungry," he insisted.

I insisted back. "You MUST be hungry. You ate hardly any breakfast."

We ordered. He had Jello and part of a sandwich and off we went to the stores.

After a couple of stops he started misbehaving. First he started complaining his legs were hurting and he couldn't walk. "I need a wheelchair," he moaned.

I rolled my eyes. At Walgreen's they have little tiny baskets that kids can't sit in, so periodically he'd fall to the ground and exclaim how he couldn't go on anymore.

Filled with compassion (not), I hissed, "What is WITH you? GET UP!" Finally we made it out with one stop left to go... the big grocery store.

I helped him heave his ginormous body into the basket (at 6 he's over 60 pounds and only a foot and a half shorter than me) and he complained he was cold. Not realizing that my mother-of-the-year nomination was in dire peril I simply dismissed his complaint as low stamina for shopping and proceeded to bury him in cereal, canned goods, bread, corn on the cob and toilet paper.

A woman wheeled past me and glanced at Julius neck deep in groceries, lying his head on a big 30 pack of Charmin looking miserable and said, "Oh my, your child is certainly surrounded by groceries!" I wanted to say, "Lady, don't even start on me about it because this is better than the alternative where he falls to the ground like he's posing for an Andrew Wyeth painting..." But instead I smiled and said, "Isn't he, though?"

About every minute and a half he said, "Mom, I really want to go home. Are we done yet?"

"I'm trying to hurry, Jules, I really, really am."

At the checkout I unearthed the child and told him to go sit on the bench by customer service while I paid for all the groceries. After an agonizing wait for all the grocery scanning and coupon scanning I wheeled the basket toward the exit and saw a lady pointing over at Julius. She had a strange look on her face.

And there he was... my lonely-looking youngster surrounded by a big explosion of red Jello and sandwich spew. And when I say "big", I mean it spread out for about two feet around him and the customer service bench. And everyone was staring at him. And when they were done staring at him they turned to stare at me.

Imagine, if you will, how crummy I felt about giving him a hard time, how insensitive I felt for making him eat when he didn't want to, how inept I felt that I didn't realize he really WAS sick and I should have skipped shopping. So much for mother's intuition, right?

And then along came a fellow with a large box on a dolly. He pulled on some rubber gloves. I started to bend down to clean up barf with a big wad of paper towels someone had brought over. The guy says, "No, no... let me get that." I kept saying, "I'm so sorry, so sorry... so sorry about this... blah blah blah sorry blah blah babble babble..."

He smiled, "No, it's fine. It happens. Check this out!" He scoops a big cup of powder out of the magical box and dumps it onto the red biohazard covering the floor and it somehow mysteriously changes its physical properties and turns into something that can be swept up with a push broom. I wanted to buy that box of stuff from him, whatever it was. I've never seen a guy so happy to clean up gross stuff.

Turns out that was the beginning of our adventures in biohazard for the week. Julius was Patient Zero followed by me, then by Rob. Then it swept through the family a second time. The only one who didn't get sick was Tristan who frequently builds up his immune system by doing bicep curls with earthworms and pectoral flexing by cricket catching. Oh, and eating stuff off the ground.

Okay, maybe there's actually more than one reason I lost my nomination.


  1. At least you bought a bunch of groceries from the store.

    We were sitting in a Subway on the Eastern Shore of Maryland this summer. A family comes hurrying in, mother, father and a couple of kids, headed straight for the bathroom.

    Just as they got to us, the youngest son barfs all over the floor. They continue to the bathroom, while Subway employee gets out the mop bucket.

    A few minutes later, they come out, head out the door, get into their SUV and leave. Didn't purchase a thing.

  2. Hey - don't beat yourself up over it. How were you to know Julius just didn't want to go shopping and was putting on an act? Look at it this way - at least you didn't have to clean up the puke!

  3. I know you must have felt terrible, but it is a little bet funny. Hope you're all feeling better!

  4. oh, that sounds like something that would happen to me! I have loved your blog from the start, but knowing you are a couponer, oh, now I can relate on so many MORE levels! (I was ADDICTED before I had my daughter; now I am easing my way back into it)

    Seriously, I would have thought my kid was just being difficult. Guess it's back to Plan A:

    Always do your coupon shopping ALONE.

    Sorry you've had a YUCKY week!

  5. Oh man, that sucks. :( Hope you're all on the road to being healthy!

  6. goodness! i feel so bad for giggling.. but it's merely from experience. i've had those trips out w/ little ones who acted as though they'd just DIE if i made them go shopping. and occasionally, something would actually be wrong with them. ahh what's a mother to do? we're not mind readers!
    hope the family is feeling better!

  7. I think something like this ends up happening to every mom. The guilt is.. Well, inescapable even though you couldn't have known.
    I think Tristan has the right idea I have a friend who is a germaphobe and is ALWAYS SICK. I keep telling her if she'd stop bathing in sanitizer and being weird about germs she'd stop being so sick all the time!

  8. Oh Wendy.
    I know what losing that nomination is like.

    Son was about 4 years old.
    Mom says wanna go to McDonalds?
    Yes boy says

    Got happymeal.Two bites he is done.
    Mom threatened. Eat food or toy goes to another kid. Boy did not eat. Toy given away.

    Fast forward. Boy gets a temperature. Emergency room.

    Doc checks throat. Little boy fights kicks screams.
    Doc reprimands. Nurse and embarassed Mom hold little boy down.

    Doc grimmances. Says sorry. Says sorry again and once more to little boy. Strokes his head.

    Boy had large open sore on the back of his throat. Never complained.

    Doc said boy in an enormous pain can't eat solids.

    Mom thinks of McDonald's. How she gave his toy away. Mom felt like an abuser.

  9. I feel so sorry for you and your son! Maybe next time will be better, and you can lock arms and skip down the aisles.

  10. I have to say, I knew where the story was going when he wouldn't eat. I am so sorry for you.
    Isn't that stuff great! We had it when I worked in a pre-school. It is so awesome I wished I had some at home too.
    Sam did that once at my dad's, my husband walked in the door and said, Hi Da-BARF all over. My husband grabbed Sam, a bag and went home (thank g-d we live 3 blocks away). I then stayed up all night with him and it then ran through the house. Glad it's over for you now.

  11. ...and will your next trip be in disguise?! The vomitting virus...nasty for all concerned.

  12. Oh dear. I think we've all been there. Sometimes it's hard to filter out the drama from the real illness.

    I hope everyone is on the mend. And that vomit cleaner-upper stuff sounds awesome!

  13. Don't beat yourself up over it. You were being a good mom and making sure your kid was fed. So it technically cancels it out, see? :)

  14. Those moments suck! About two weeks ago my daughter was saying she wanted to go to bed every night right about vegetable time and I wouldn't listen to her (thought she was just trying to get out of peas). It turned out to be mono and a slight pneumonia. Other that a *really* minor cough and being tired we had no other symptoms. I felt like the worst mommy in the world.

    So, on the bright side, since we've ALL done it then you can probably still be in the running for the award!

  15. Oh wow, I have totally done that.

    I think that means, not that you are a bad mother, but an experienced one. Only good moms are used to handling this behavior with the patience you displayed. Cause let's face it, kids act like this and we get used to it being an act.

    Then we remember the OTHER reason they act like that.

    I have a baby who's been teething a month and just remembered about the existence of teething tablets.

    So sorry you had a crappy week.

  16. LOL! I think we have ALL been in that situation where we drag the complaining, tired kid along and they end up hurling everywhere in public. When we were in Colorado my friend's 7-yr-old daughter was really whiny on a hike up a mountain. We kept telling her to buck up. When we got home she developed a 104 fever. oops.

  17. P.S. - Hope y'all are feeling better!

  18. I want to buy a box of that magical powder stuff from a box to clean gross messes I don't want to touch!

  19. Hope everyone's feeling better now. And we all need to know the name of the stuff to clean up throw up!

  20. I'm having flashbacks of the rotovirus infestation Christmas 2007.

    I do not wish that on anyone.

    Hope everyone is feeling better soon!

  21. I totally knew there was going to be barf at the end of that story...because I've done the same thing. As soon as you said he was laying down in the cart, I knew it was all over.
    I felt like a total ass after my youngest told me she cleaned up her own puke with kleenexes on the bus ride to kindergarten. wah!
    Get well soon to you and yours.

    Wow. What would life have been like all these years with magic puke cleaner?

  22. Is it bad that I feel your pain but still laughed all the way through this? I could so be in your shoes! And sadly I mean literally! Hope you are feeling better and um, thanks for making me feel less alone in the wonder of all things boys!

  23. Don't worry, it builds character. My kids are going to have a ton of character by the time I'm through with them ;-)
    Hope everyone is feeling better now.

  24. Oh, tough day. :( Sorry about that. It happens. My boys would be happy to recount to you all of the times I failed them when they were kids. Luckily, they still love me. ;)

  25. another day, another adventure.....vomit is the stuff of motherhood. i really liked the image of your son in a shopping cart using charmin for a pillow! as usual your gross stories are just as charming as everything else. :)

  26. I have many puke stories I'd like to share with you another day. Really, though, isn't that miracle barf powder the greatest? Why don't they sell it to Moms in bulk, I wonder?

  27. when either of my kids say they're not hungry i worry right away. the kids eat like they have mongoloid tapeworms to feed.

    i want to know why the magic cleaning stuff wasn't sent in bulk to ALL facilities that care for children,and all new parents- in 20 years of child care, and 3 kids at home, yea. that would have been REALLY nice!

  28. I knew where that story was going from the start. Any mother that has actually spent time with their children knows that story all too well. Coulda been worse you know. He could have hurled in the cart full of groceries instead of a wide open floor. :)

  29. yup. i saw the hurling coming. i know you wish you had too. sorry you had such a godawful week and all of you sick one after another.

    in my book, you win the HUMAN BEING mother of the year award. like all of us who share this wondrous occupation, parenthood.

    and aren't you glad that it wasn't YOU who barfed in the grocery store? LOL...i'm still holding my sides from giggling, wendy. you do tell such a wonderful story, which is why i love reading this blog.


  30. Poor thing. I hope you are all feeling much better.

  31. Glad you guys are all feeling better (I talked to Rob and you all sounded good anyway) ...

    I have to tell you, I do love reading your tales! No one else could make me giggle right up to such a disgusting end the way you do!

  32. "Life is like a box of chocolates" Great post

  33. Wendy, I'm not going to apologize. I did not just giggle through this story...I am laughing. out. LOUD! You have a wonderful gift of taking a bad situation and turning it into a hilarious story. I love your blog!! Keep it up! :) Oh...and I hope sweet Julius is feeling much better by now.

  34. I'm loving that Wal-Mart guy! And thrilled I get to read you for free. When's your book coming out??


Tell me what's on your mind!