On Saturday, we decided to head to the snow-covered mountains about an hour inland from where we live on the northern California coast. We hopped in my husband's truck, armed with snow gear, tire chains, McDonald's, and Thomas the Train DVDs. We were ready for epic family adventure.
We bundled our little girl up very much like Ralphie on A Christmas Carol. (She could put her arms down, but think l a y e r s here. This becomes vitally important later in the story. And I know you moms out there know exactly where I'm going with this. Points to you all.) Here she is, being pulled in our sled up hill as we snowshoed.
I got the slide in of my life. Started out very gently, then I leaned back and literally took off screaming. Here I am on my way to the exhilarating ride of a lifetime. (I did manage to convince Maddy that her Mommy was actually very excited instead of afraid...and that was a part-truth. The excitement came after I realized I wasn't going to inconveniently careen off the side of the mountain.)
Just as Dad was making his way to outdo my sledding prowess, Maddy starts the bathroom dance. Usually it's a gentle flitting about, but this time, she's gyrating as if her life depended on it. She said, "Mommy! I have to go the bathroom right now. I've needed to go this whole time!" Now whether that meant she had just held it or simply gotten too excited in the events of the day to actually remember she needed to go, I will never know. I took one look at her in all of her gear and paraphernalia and almost said, "Forget it. We'll never make it in time." How's that for mom of the year? "Go ahead and pee on yourself. We've got a change of clothes."
Of course, we didn't do this. My husband and I went into lock-down mode. I was very focused on getting toilet paper from our pack. He was very focused on getting her undressed. I still don't know why I focused on the paper. Of course, I'm a female, and paper is a dire need. At any rate, we peeled clothes off her like we were in a race. She's crying, saying she's cold, and we're like, "Don't pee on yourself! Hold it!" I'm sure this was very traumatic for her, as was having to pee with her butt extended up, suspended mid-air by her father's arms and arcing a spray that would rival a tomcat.
I should mention that this occurred around 3 p.m., and Maddy was most definitely feeling a sudden onslaught of exhaustion. My husband hands her to me, in flagrante, while he gets the paper. We finally get her clothes back on (panties, sweatpants, overall bibs, snow shoes, overcoat, gloves, hat) and I just hold her to get her to calm down.
The trip is ruined. She wants to go home, but we're still 35 minutes from the truck or so. We lay her out in the sled like we're on a rescue mission and the sled is our litter. She falls asleep as we trudge back to the truck, occasionally wincing as some wayward snow from our shoes falls around her face. We didn't even get a family photo.
This type of drama in our family isn't a one-time kind of thing. We've gone out to the mountain a few times and have usually wound up asking ourselves why we try to do certain things with a child. We want her to have fun with us, of course, but perhaps we're still learning that age-appropriate limit? It was just sad to see such fun spiral out of control so quickly. Everyone was ticked off, Maddy was traumatized, I feel sure, and in my best therapeutic voice, I soothed her with cold McDonald's fries.
Let's Analyze: Tell me I'm not alone in this thing called parenthood drama.