Last weekend I drove to Washington, D.C., to meet hubby. He had flown directly from one business trip to the next, causing us to be apart for three weeks. Needless to say, the adrenaline was flowing as I loaded up the minivan and set out to bring him home. Adrenaline is a good thing, especially when you are making a twelve-hour road trip with a two-year-old and a three-year-old.
We arrived with hardly an incident, unless you count the West Virginia fiasco. Somewhere in them hills (saying ÒthemÓ is one of the many hazards of lingering too long in West Virginia) is a rest stop with an inviting grassy area. I released the little ones to run off some energy, and realized too late that the grass was actually a marsh. Daughter called out, ÒHey, Mommy! It’s like in the bear hunt book Ñ squelch, squerch, squelch, squerch!Ó
I called for them to come back, but as two- and three-year-olds tend to do, they thought it was funny to run from mommy. Laughing and squealing, they ran further into the swampy mess. I let out a sigh and began squelching and squerching after them.
I grabbed toddler up by the waist, successfully covering the front of my pants with mud. With one child under my arm, I ran after child number two, constantly aware of the depth of the mud over my flip-flops.
I corralled them back into the dreaded public restroom, and began the clean-up process. I sat one on the sink and much, to my horror, the other decided to sprawl face down on the floor. In my opinion, this trumped the time he mimicked a buffalo by licking the identical spot on a metal rail.
A thorough washing, a quick sponge bath with the hand sanitizer, and we were finally back on the road.
It came as no surprise when my little floor-licker woke up sick on our third day in D.C. I spent the next three days cooped up in a hotel room, waiting for hubby to come in each evening and provide some much-needed adult conversation. You know it’s bad when a 40-year-old woman starts developing crushes on Disney Channel father figures.
Finally, on my last full day in D.C., everyone was well enough to leave the hotel. I was determined to find my way to the National Cathedral, a place I’d dreamed of visiting since seeing it on the horizon three business trips ago.
The weather was beautiful, and the drive through historic Georgetown was exceptionally pleasant. We arrived at the Cathedral, found public potty number 4,756 while still in the parking garage, and then headed out to the glorious, sunlit grounds.
Three-year-old decided that she was big enough to walk, and I agreed there was no need to force her into the double stroller. This did not, however, sit well with toddler boy. He commenced to screaming and pitching a fit because he wanted to walk too. I made the mistake of thinking this would be a good time to introduce the harness I’d recently purchased. What resulted was the equivalent of putting a puppy on his first leash, or a horse under its first saddle. Hell has never seen such weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.
I thought perhaps he would adjust if we spent a little time walking around the grounds, but he completely melted down in front of fellow tourists and students alike. I thought everyone was staring at him, sprawled on the ground, tugging at the harness and screaming, ÒNo! I Walk! No! I Walk!Ó But as it turned out, only half of the Georgetown population was staring at him. I glanced over and realized the other half were gawking at my three-year-old who had found a slight incline in the grass, lain down, and was rapidly rolling towards the sidewalk shouting, “Look what Abby teached me how to do!Ó
The good news is that I have three teenagers, all of whom were toddlers around the same time, so I’ve grown accustomed to this sort of embarrassment. Motherhood honored me long ago with a tattered badge of shredded dignity, and I wear it humbly. Never do I look at another mother and think, ÒMy child would never do that!Ó Ñ because, chances are, they already have.
I finally forced a screaming toddler into the stroller, and dug a dollar bribe out of my backpack to convince the three-year-old to join him. As soon as she settled in, he became content and we toured the glorious National Cathedral. I took a picture of my two beautiful children, with a rainbow of colors from the majestic stained glass shining down on their stroller. He was picking his nose, and she was picking the dirt from between her sandaled toes. They had no clue of the significance of the beauty surrounding them. But they will have the pictures, and a story handed down from a mother who has squelched and squerched through the trenches of mommy warfare.