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80 weeks | That one time | no. 0074
That one time you fail to pack adequate supplies to handle any potential diaper disasters because you figure your baby won’t need to really go again since he already pooped a big number before you left out on this excursion to storytime. You sniff the air as the munchkin and all his toddler people bounce back and forth waiting for the librarian to get set up and something is certainly foul. You glance at the nearest child to you and think somebody needs to change the little girl with the cute, pink jeans on because it can’t possibly be the munchkin because you just cleaned him up real nice, found the umbrella buried in the back of the closet, miraculously made it to the bus stop just as the bus was rounding the bend, and still managed to get a seat almost at the front before the program began.
It’s only after everyone plays the fingers riddle game and the story about the busy spider makes its way onto the third page that you happen to lift your happy boychild up into your lap to better see all the illustrations. That’s when you catch that awful scent of recognition and concede that the diaper in question belongs in truth to the 18-month old who bears an undeniable resemblance to you. Assuming this must just be some minor aftershock from the earlier one that was so massive, you grab the near-empty pack of wipes, a changing pad, a new diaper, a cloth to dry him off with, and the small bottle of oil to rub on his clean skin. You take hold of his hand and escort him to the bathroom.
Now they’re doing a dance about the monkeys jumping on the bed and falling off and bumping their heads. Munchkin needs to watch the spectacle of moving bodies first before he feels he can resume the trek to the ladies’ room. When you finally get down the hall the door is obstructed by that enormous trash can on wheels that means the custodian is in there mopping and wiping and sanitizing the restroom and that you have to wait until she’s done. This is no bother to munchkin who continues parading his pleasant funk up and down the corridor, smiling widely at all the passerby.
It’s been a while since you had to change him in a public space because the winter’s been rough and you haven’t been out much anyway. So it’s a slightly comical surprise when you see the munchkin has grown longer and barely fits on the diaper station. You pull his pants down to the ankles because you don’t want to have to undo the shoes and have one more thing to have to keep up with. When you go to unlatch the diaper you realize you have everything but the wipes which are on the other side of the bathroom on the sink counter. You lift him back into your arms to go and retrieve the wipes from the sink and you are beyond shocked to see a speck of poop on his shoes when you look in the mirror. Then your disbelief is deepened when you get visual confirmation that poop really is coming out of the diaper, and because of the way your balancing him in order to pick up the wipes case, the poop is also on all four of your bangles.
This is just too much to process in one moment. You slide the bracelets off and place them on the sink and then hold your breath a bit as you manually remove the waste matter that has found a home on your child’s shoe. The munchkin is also fussing and resisting being put back down on the too-small changing table. First things first. That thing about order of operations comes to you and you think it’s best to just get him clean, and then worry about the other stuff after he’s situated. Of course since you haven’t refreshed the wipes case in oh, about 3 months, the five wipes that are in there are DRY. Yes, D-R-Y. So you have to wet them. Back to the sink you go with the poop-smearing baby in tow.
Oh, but there’s no warm water in a public restroom! Dammit, cold wet wipes. The munchkin screams in agony as you try to all at once thoroughly clean him, keep his squirming, protesting body from rolling off the changing station, and contain all particles of feces in the diaper. Of all the days.
Somehow you get him in a fresh diaper. You would breathe a sigh of relief but that’s when you discover the poop got on the onesie and just before you can go dig in the baby bag and get the back-up shirt, you remember you LEFT THE BABY BAG at home, opting to “travel light” because nothing “major” was going to happen with his diaper, and so you have no change of clothes. Nothing. Not even an extra sock.
You resign yourself to the fact that the onesie will have to come off and he’ll just have to be in the sweatshirt. The pants. Before you even look inside his pants you just start praying because there’s absolutely no way he can go without pants. It’s just a little warmer from the below freezing temperatures of last week. There’s no July heat gonna meet you outside just because your baby messed the only pants you thought to bring. It only takes one time to learn the hard way.
This is where you get creative with your facts. Clearly if the diaper had leaked onto the onesie, the pants are likely compromised. BUT because you have NO OTHER OPTION, you will unsee any hint of a stain and, without a moment’s hesitation, accept that these pants are perfectly wearable. You remind yourself also that you’re just a short bus ride home where you will then be able to restore your name as a good mother and put him in new clothes that won’t smell like he’s been sitting in his shit all day.
When the munchkin is fully “dressed” again, and the soiled diaper is in the trash, you set his feet down on the floor while you gather all your things. That’s when you see your bangles, your favorite set, covered in various degrees of fecal ruin. Washing them off in the sink you are almost afraid to inspect the rest of your clothing for signs of excrement, but thankfully it appears you’ve been spared at least this much.
Back in the storytelling room it’s all over. Your bag and umbrella look lonely and abandoned in the chair on the second row. An aisle seat, so perfect. The librarian is putting away the last of her things and makes small talk with you. You promise her you’ll come again, with the unstated intention of actually participating next time and not just putting out fires in the lavatory. Munchkin seems to not mind that everything finished without him. He marches around the open space quite content to take command of the room and resume his spirited work of rearranging the furniture.
You conclude that for many reasons this day is still a victory. You got up, fed everyone, got yourselves out the door, made the bus, technically got to storytime, managed an impossible diaper fiasco, found some good books that you’ll have no time to read, walked to the store–in the rain with a baby on your back– and carried him plus all your bags four long blocks, making it across the busy intersection just in time to get a bus home. You assume the snoring munchkin resting peacefully on your tired back, and allowing you to have an uneventful ride, is some small, but meaningful, reward for all you do for him. You are a mother in every way imaginable. You learn early on how to take your graces as they come.
The munchkin, my first born, was born on a Wednesday. Wednesday’s Bloom: Textual Portraits of a New Mommy is an ongoing multi-media documentary project about my process as a mother. Today’s story is a part of Volume 1, 73 consecutive weeks of posts, spanning about the first year and a half of the munchkin’s life. Each episode explores my weekly discoveries, challenges, questions, and hopes as a mother. I also facilitate the New Mommy Writers’ Workshop for all mothers and women active in their mothering work who are excited about cultivating their own writing practices.