I know as I am losing it, that I am that crazy mother everyone stares at and either judges or pities (or both). I am carrying a ridiculously loaded-down backpack, pulling a ginormous wagon, filled with over 60 lbs of screaming, wailing, snot-rolling-down-their-faces children, and dodging traffic while attempting to find a sidewalk to drag my disgruntled progeny home. While pulling and schlepping and dodging traffic, in what has got to be the least pedestrian friendly city I've ever lived in, (WHERE ARE THE GODDAMN SIDEWALKS, CITY PLANNERS?!), I am also, having lost my wits completely, yelling at the top of my lungs: "I hate this f*cking city!!!" with tears welling up in my eyes. To which the drivers in the cars with whom I seem to be locked into a not-funny game of dodge-ball with begin to eye me warily (though I suppose should take solace in the fact that their wary eyeing at least means they probably wouldn't be running me and my kids down). And to which my son, momentarily surprised out of his wailing says : "Mama! Mama - you said "Fack!"
I forgot the backpack. He asked me to bring his backpack. And I forgot it. Oh yes I did. Both kiddos are stuffed into the wagon (Boy-o chose this over the stroller, which will later chose to be a fatal mistake on my part, but anyhoo...), I am loaded down with my own backpack full of overdue library books and kid snacks and it is hot out and we have made it half-way through our 30 minute walk to the library. I stop and apologize. "I'm sorry buddy, I forgot you wanted to bring your own backpack." Eyes well. Lip quavers and quivers. I'm not getting away with this one, I can tell already. Then it hits full force. "I want it. I want it! I WANT MY BACKPACK!" I apologize again and explain that we can't go back and get it, but I will do my very best to remember it next time. Nothing doing. I try pulling on and ignoring it, but that doesn't work. Boy-o hurls himself out of the wagon and holds onto the back in an attempt to stop us. I try reasoning. Wheedling. Pulling out the "firm" voice. Nope. Nada. I am mama slime. Finally, after some time of this drama, I give him the choice. We can go home, where the backpack is, but then we won't have time to go to the library. Or we can go on without the backpack. He chooses the library, so on we trundle.
Five minutes into our renewed walk, the backpack devastation returns anew. More whining, then louder, then wailing. By now we are 5 minutes away from the library. I have books I want to take out. Girlio could use some fresh books to read. So I tell him we made the choice to go to the library and WE ARE GOING! "I will not never EVER go inside," he yells. What little is left of my nerves are, well, frayed. "I hate books!" he shouts. I engage in a lot of singing and self-talk at this moment. The self-talk is an important part of making it through behavioural moments such as these. It consists of: "You love your children. You think violence is wrong. You can move past this urge to breathe fire, " and so on and so forth. (Repeat as necessary).
We've made it to the library. Boy-o still a little teary, but mostly stubbornly refusing to have any sort of fun at the library. Girlio, a little teary from all the kerfuffle. Me, a little teary from nerves which are now completely worn thin (in my defense, this is also a product of the aftermath of two really, really especially rotten nights up with child #2). Like a complete and utter fool, I press on with the smalls. Upon entering the library, Girlio acts like I've injected her with speed. She is zigging and zagging as fast as her unsteady legs will carry her. And Boy-o decides that he is still really very mad at me, and commences shouting "I HATE BOOKS!" some more. Grand ole time. The stares from librarians and other patrons begin.
I've managed to find some books for Boy-o, despite his constant and loud assurances that he hates them, because I know there will be large amounts of dissapointment when his current mood shifts and there are no new books to read. While I've been doing this, Girlio has emptied the contents of several shelves of cds, emptied each one, and managed broke a set of library headphones. How the frig did she get so fast?? And why, why, why oh why did I let Boy-o convince me that we should bring the wagon? Aside from being a lot heavier in the stroller, it also has no means of strapping the baby in! More glares and stares and meaningful glances in my direction. I clean up as best I can while holding onto Houdini-child and keeping a close eye on Sir-Grumpy-Pants, who is, thankfully getting less grumpy by the minute. The down-side of the dissappearing grump, however, is the swiftly appearing burst of energy (which is a bit akin to that old Duracell bunny, except quicker).
Boy-o is running laps around the stacks as I struggle to contain Girlio and find my books (which are, incidentally, all baby-sleep books, because we've hit that desparate place again). Everytime I try to look at a book, Girlio frees herself and runs off and grabs random books off the shelves, laughing her small arse off. Boy-o's laps continue. I content myself with finding two of the six books I wanted and start to head to the check-out when I realize Girlio has a seriously poopy bum. Flag down the running menace and drag everyone to the bathroom, both of them protesting all the way. Only to discover that the library's bathrooms are out of order. SAY WHAT?! They are apparently being reno'd, get this, to serve you better. Um, okay. That's kinda funny. Cause it seems to me that what would serve me better, in this government building, frequented by oodles of small children, is to have a working bathroom! So, faced with the prospect of carting my poor kid home atop a poopy bum or changing her right there on the library floor, I choose the latter. More glares. Many more.
We bee-line as quickly as I can manage (cause I want outta there!) to the self-check out stand, which is the only check out our library now seems to have. And realize that this may in fact be the most challenging element in this library trip, as I have nothing with which to keep Girlio occupied while Boy-o (with my help) laboriously checks out the books. So we check out a few books, and I run after the baby. We check out a few books, and I run after the baby. And so on and so forth. There is also a small bit of quiet-ish hollering on my part. And this time, the dissaproving glance is coming from one of the two librarians at their desks. M-kay. Does this picture not scream WOMAN*WHO*NEEDS*SOME*HELP to you?! Do I really need to send a more formal SOS?? Like, in writing or something? I can assure you, in the event that you still need assuring) that by this portion of this afternoon's fun activity, I both looked and sounded like a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Because I was. Regardless, we finally manage it, but not before Girlio has actually managed to press the wheelchair access button and mosey out towards the parking lot! Where the hell did she learn to do that?!
On our way home. Just as loaded down as on the way there. Boy-o now crying because I would not stop at MacDonalds. (Damn you Golden Arches!) Girlio now crying because she's tired. And a doggy barked and scared her.
Flash forward to 4:40. And a beleagered, wagon-pulling pedestrian mama losing her shit. Yes, a fine mama moment, if ever there was one. I can't even count all the mama-mistakes up to list them. Suffice it to say, I know they are there.
The kids are asleep. I don't seem to yet have scarred them for life. Boy-o read a few zillion of those books he hates before bed.
My wife went out and bought me some chocolate. And a nice bottle of Masi.