If you see me without my kids, know I wipe butts too
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015
There are some things I can’t stop myself from doing no matter how much I prepare myself to not do that thing.
Like spending an hour playing with our fart slime every time the girls find it hiding behind the couch.
Or laughing when my kids swear off-handedly.
Or eating nachos.
But nothing is as bad and no impulse as strong as the urge I get when we’re in public without our children to go up to parents with small kids and explain to them that we have kids too, they just aren’t with us right now.
This is not a joke and this is not an exaggeration. I am incapable of seeing parents with kids and not wanting to make their outing even more difficult by interrupting them.
It happens every time. We’re walking hand in hand like horribly romantic couples do, gazing into one another’s eyes (on a picture the other one just tagged us in on Instagram) and suddenly I spot what looks like a young family trying to keep their kids from killing one another. They don’t look like they need any help other than maybe a few minutes to get their children corralled and into a car. They don’t look like they are waiting to engage in conversation. I know this, and yet…
“I have to,” I say to my partner, and she knows what that means.
“No, you don’t. They won’t care. They just want their kids to stop yelling at each other and you’re not going to help that.”
“I have to.”
“It won’t stop the kids from punching each other and it might end up in you getting a black eye.”
“No. I. Have. To. Our kids are at home probably acting horrible to their grandparents and these parents should know they aren’t alone. Even if it kind of looks like they are.”
She ALWAYS pulls me away from that family, but the urge never goes away. I’ll be a kilometre away and will still be wondering whether or not they looked at us at any point and felt jealous of our kid-free lifestyle.
And for some reason it bothers me to think they might think that we don’t get crap on our hands and vomit on our clothes. It hurts deep down that from 50 feet away they can’t see the dark circles under our eyes or the ketchup in our hair. They might think we’re going home to take a nap and that we don’t drink our alcohol out of plastic children’s cups from time to time. That our walls aren’t covered in dirty smudges of finger and our floors not so much clean as they are covered in cereal.
If only I could get close enough to talk to them I could tell them, in an unobtrusive way, that I have little devils in my house too.
(Insert the kind of chimes that lead to dream sequences in television shows)
I walk up to the family as they stand outside grocery store, their kids yelling at one another for not sharing the grocery list.
“Hey, I don’t know you but I noticed you weren’t noticing me. I thought it might be important for me to stop by and say hi,” I’d start in naturally when I sensed a break in the sibling punch throwing.
“Yeah, sorry we have these two kids that are keeping us a little busy right now. It’s hard to notice everything when you have kids trying to run into the street. I’m really sorry if we’re bothering you but there’s not much we can do right now,” one of them will explain as politely as you can in a situation like this.
“Tell me about it. I think you didn’t notice me because our kids aren’t here right now. But we have them too you know. Two of them.”
“That’s great, do we know them?”
“No, no, I’ve never seen you before but I thought you’d want to know we have kids too. Just in case you were looking at us and thinking ‘look at those two without kids. I bet they woke up late and went for brunch, I’m so jealous.'”
“No, we really just want to get out of here.”
“No kidding, I noticed your kids were being a couple of assholes.”
“No, in a good way. Remember, we have kids too. Don’t know if I mentioned that.”
Then we give each other high-fives and the parenting code handshake and the kids keep punching each other but I walk away happily because we don’t have to deal with our kids just yet.
(Insert magical chime noise that brings us back to the here and now)
Now, don’t get me wrong, if that person takes my explanation as an invitation to help them solve their child-fighting problem, I’m going to run away as fast as I can back to my child-free date. I love my child-free times that we’re privileged enough to get. We drink coffee without spilling it on ourselves because our kids want to see what’s in it. We cross streets carefully instead of running after kids who think the parking lot is a playground. We spend as long as we want in a bathroom stall. And most importantly, for the hours we’re away, we aren’t wiping butts.
But I simply cannot bear to think that for even a moment, I might be the person who sends a mom or a dad back to the time they spent drinking wine until 4 a.m. I cannot be that face. I cannot be the initiator of the phrase “remember when we used to be able to do that? When we ate bacon for brunch and nobody stole it from us?”
I don’t want to help you with your kids, but I do want you to know that I could if I had to. And that I don’t get to eat all my bacon anymore either.
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