leaf of absence
the only thing more draining than living with five kids is that three of them play sports.
every other hour there is a soccer practice or a lacrosse game or a tournament for months on end. now look, i love my skids and am very proud of their talents and accomplishments. I really, truly want to support and encourage them in all they do. INside.
hockey? wrestling? skeeball? i’m your girl. i’ll be in the front row with pompoms, but a soccer field in the middle of a florida afternoon? kill me.
soon after having the twins i began to realize they were a built-in excuse to stay in air conditioning. i couldn’t go to most of their athletic events anymore and no one could get mad at me. they were my get- out- of- jail- free card.
each sunny afternoon i would have to say, “Oh no, boys are down for their nap, I can’t go” frown.
“Crap, boys can’t be around large groups of kids till they’re vaccinated” sad face.
“Babies can’t wear sunscreen until they’re six months old. It’s too dangerous for them to be in the sun” tear.
now that they are eight months old the entire family’s pretty much caught on to me and i’m out of excuses. so there i drove sunday afternoon, babies in tow, to my stepson’s lacrosse game somewhere between purgatory and hell.
it was 846,000 degrees that afternoon. if you flapped your arms quickly enough to air out your armpits you might possibly have felt some hint of a breeze.
i layered the babies in sunscreen before leaving the house and continued to add a layer every 20-30 minutes while outside (yes, i’m one of THOSE moms). i brought our dome-shaped tent with us where they played, laughed, and pulled at each others bonnet-like hats i insisted they wear.
after the fourth or fifth time of knocking the tent over with their super human baby strength, i got tired of fixing it and took them out of the tent. i passed one off to daddy who was very engrossed in the game and i kept the other. my husband immediately put his on the grass in front of him which worried me . what no-nos would he find on the ground to put in his mouth?
i kept reminding my husband to make sure he was watching what baby Jett was doing while i was busy entertaining Colt (yes I’m aware of the irony of having kids with football teams for names).
“All okay on your end honey?”
“Yup” he said without ever removing his eyes from the game.
“You’re sure he’s not putting anything in his mouth?”
“He’s good.” (barely a glance down at the baby) “SCORE!!! YEEEEEES!!!”
as soon as the cheering parents quieted down i heard it. Jett gagged, then coughed, and a mother seated on the other side of my husband looked at me and yelled:
“You’re baby! He’s coughing up leaves!”
she might as well have said he was sitting on a land mine. my sweaty crotch leapt off the lawn chair, plopped Colt in the tent, and ran to
beat my husband in the face with a hammer my son. it took me about a moment and a half to get to Jett and in that moment i visualized every unimaginable horror from having his stomach pumped to his funeral. (i call terrifying thoughts such as these ‘mama traumas’ and they pop into my head multiple times a day ever since i had the boys. i’ve tried everything short of a lobotomy to stop them and i’m pretty sure the condition is incurable).
when i reached Jett he had pulled a tiny brown drool covered leaf from his mouth and was clenching it in his fist, smiling up at me with pride. i searched his mouth. clear. searched around him, no leaves. had he swallowed some? or could it be that the woman’s panic and baby’s gag had been from this one tiny leaf? if he had swallowed any he certainly didn’t seem to mind. and for the record, my babies gag on EVERYTHING. even when there’s nothing in their mouth. they just gag.
even though Jett was as fine as could be and the mother seemingly overreacted, i still went looking for a hammer. not only could our child be at risk for……for…….some sort of toxic leaf syndrome, but more importantly, my husband made me look like a BAD MOTHER in front of another mother! are there greater grounds for divorce?
that woman whom i will likely never see again is walking around the planet considering me someone who neglects her baby and lets him choke on things.
and why is it that mothers blame the mothers? why not blame the fathers whose fault it usually is?
she was sitting right next to him. she MUST have known he was the one in charge of Jett. she had to have heard me continuously caution him to pay attention and still she yelled, accusingly, at ME.
unless……….mayyyybe she yelled to me because she saw his dad was too involved in the game and knew she’d have as good of luck as i did getting his attention?
maybe she wasn’t passing blame or judgement but only looking out for our baby? perhaps she understood my frustration because her husband can’t parent and watch sports at the same time either?
i realized i was the one accusing, blaming, and judging me for being a bad mother because i felt like one. no matter who i put in charge of my babies they will always be my responsibility. i will always ultimately blame myself for every leaf they eat no matter who feeds it to them.
and who am i kidding? other mothers probably will too.
hmmmm…. i wonder if the threat of dangerous leaves at the field will excuse a few of my absences in the future?