Her face was distorted, a blend of confusion and disgust. With a condescending tone she asked, “Don’t you have a tissue?” There were two, quarter-size splashes of milk on the store floor, however most of the mess, the stream, was running entirely down my leg and into my slip-on Toms. And no, I did not have a single tissue, or towel or rag or anything. I’d forgotten them all at home!
I’m going to back up a little tell you about my hilarious, or not so hilarious mess. Having a brother who is about fourteen years my junior makes me sometimes prideful that, while I am a first time mother, I don’t always act like it because of all the so-called experience I have. Apparently I never learned how to properly pack a diaper bag. Usually it’s overloaded with useless items that, in addition to the baby on my chest, leave me feeling more like a pack-mule than a carefree on-the-go mama. On this particular day though, I could have used all the extras.
Considering the influx of heat advisories over the past few weeks, it was definitely time to flee the neighborhood. Both of us were a little under the weather, so I figured an outing would do us good. I had it all planned out. A quick stroll through a department store for Halloween items (I’m not a natural seamstress, so yes I’m starting early on costumes) followed by lunch with papa and then the farmers’ market. We’d leave by midday and be home way before rush hour. Perfect. I anticipated all of the weight I’d have to juggle on the ride and walk home, so I packed my purse carefully and only rolled a couple cloth bags for produce. I replaced the diaper bag with a smaller purse, and aside from my personal necessities I packed two diapers, a nose aspirator, one small toy, sun hat and a couple wipes tucked in a ziplock. The thought of packing a rag or an extra outfit faded with the realization that neither had been necessary in so long that I couldn’t remember the last time they’d actually been used while we were out.
Oh, silly mama.
Months earlier with a large, round pregnant belly I walked around that particular department store. Around the baby section, touching all of the fuzzy footsie and daydreaming about the day I would put my little bundle into the cart seat, stroll along and compare clothing lengths to the length of my child. My vision did not include a happy baby attempting to hurl himself out of his seat and into racks of rainbow textiles. My efforts to compare his size to an outfit were met with wrestling matches and squeals of complete ecstasy. He must have thought shopping was the best game ever. Perhaps he was having too much fun and laughing too hard. Once I wrangled him back into the carrier and had him snuggled belly to belly, he began coughing and choking.
I asked if he was okay and he looked up just in time for the flood gate to open and warm regurgitated milk to flow out like a mass exodus. Right at that moment I relived a flashback of being very young and watching another child, across the grocery store aisle, completely demolish the floor with an unexpected upchuck. Without hesitation, his mother whisked him out of sight. As a kid I was simultaneously appalled by the mess and amazed by his mother’s swift reaction. Here I was now the mother and my eyes were just bulging.
They say, “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” Maybe there should be an alternate expression, something like, “Don’t panic over regurgitated milk from your baby, dripping down your leg and filling your shoe.” My little one finished with a smile of relief, just in time for our fellow shopper to roll by and ask if I had a tissue to clean the floor. Never mind my soaked body. I wanted to start laughing, but she was sincere with concern, so I simply thanked her and directed myself straight to the restroom. Of course the store did not have a diaper station! The joke was really all over me that afternoon. Needless-to-say we checked out with a new onesie so that at least one of us would be clean for lunch.
After recounting the experience to Jonathan, I have no doubt we will forever use the phrase, “Don’t you have a tissue,” to tease one another over clumsy accidents in the future. As my shoes soak in a bath of baking soda and my pants, shirt, bra, the carrier, his romper and diaper (what a mess) all swirl around in the wash, I can confidently say that the diaper bag is already pre-packed for the next outing, complete with several lightweight and highly absorbent rags. Of course this probably means that there will never be another big mess again until the day we forget the bag.