The other night we were leaving for a walk with The Things at the same time our neighbors were getting into a cab. Friends of theirs were already waiting in the cab, and they looked so young and well rested I could almost cry. Our Neighbor Wife emerged from next-door, looking fantastic, wearing heels that I believe required a ladder for putting on, and carrying the cutest little gold clutch you ever did see. (I can’t remember the last time I typed the word “clutch.”) She might have even had a Bumpitz in her hair. Adorable. She found her way down the incline of her lawn like a ladylike deer, balancing precariously, shimmery and fresh.
(Now let’s be honest: if you’re taking a cab TO an event, it’s pretty obvious why. And really, I admire their maturity to plan ahead. But when we found out they were going to a sweet little engagement party and not, say, a college fraternity reunion bash at 8.0's, we realized with no small amount of awe that our neighbors were A-list Olympian Partyers of America. But in a classy, not-so-Snooki kind of a way.)
That’s when the witch inside me raised up her old mottled face and wished a hex upon them: I wished children, CHILDREN upon them! Yes! Newborns! Hundreds of them! All snorting and power feeding and having impressive diaper “events”! Let’s see her carry a diaper bag in THOSE heels. MuahahahaHA! (Cough, cough.)
I was immediately chastised. Not by my super sensitive conscience, but by my husband who was wondering what that chanting was under my breath. But I think he secretly whispered “Amen” — or however you express solidarity with a hex.
“I’m still in MY twenties,” I said eventually. “I want to carry a clutch.”
“You can carry a clutch around the house,” Gordon said.
It’s not that I haven’t been getting out. I do. But as I’ve found myself out and about, suddenly I’m in the front seat of our SUV nursing Madeline while the rest of my family is somewhere else: inside the Taco Bueno, or Cool Cuts for Kids, McDonald’s. Yes, I was literally in the parking lot of a gas station-slash-McDonald’s feeding Maddie propped up with one arm and eating a Big N’ Tasty with the other hand while Gordy and Drew were inside. (You know, trying to class the place up.) We hadn’t planned the feedings correctly and were just trying to get some things done before Bessy had to give. Which was right then, apparently, amidst truckers filling up with diesel.
I’m not alone in this. I saw a lady at the mall yesterday with her shirt pulled up and baby chowing down while she had lunch in the Food Court. And SHE was in HER twenties, too, by golly…
“In the grand scheme of things, this time in our lives will zip by,” observed Gordon one night at dinner when we were decrying our total loss of coolness.
“But this IS the scheme of things! Right now, right in this moment is THE SCHEME!” I stabbed my plastic fork into my paper plate.
And by definition, you can never be a totally “cool” parent because you have bigger fish to fry than always carrying the perfect clutch or perfectly installing a Bumpitz, unless you’re Victoria Beckham, but I believe she has an entire staff devoted to her own personal coolness and that of her children.
For all his sermonizing, Gordon is feeling the effects too. After one of my parking-lot feedings last week, I changed Maddie and put her balled up diaper on the dashboard. When we arrived at our next stop, Gordon insisted on “doing something with it” because it was apparently “embarrassing” to have a diaper on your dash, even if you’re one of 20,000 unidentifiable vehicles in Hulen Mall’s parking lot. Inexplicably, Gordon thought it way cooler to carry the balled up diaper in plain view all the way into the mall, past the teenagers hanging around the cement pillars in front of the entrance, past the couples sitting at the coffee shop immediately inside — who just reek of clean cars and grime-less shoes — and finally deposit it into the trash can just outside Gymboree. And then go inside Gymboree.
The glimmer of hope was yesterday at Tom Thumb when we were at the checkout. I was wearing Thing Two on my chest and Drew was manning the little orange “car” at the helm of the bulky cart. I hadn’t noticed the item he had pulled inside with him until we were loading groceries onto the conveyor belt.
I peered inside and there sat a bottle of Frei Brothers Chardonnay right beside him. Not pudding, not sugary cereal, not candy. Wine.
And then I realized the day will come when we will split a bottle of wine with our grown — and super-cool — children and will think back fondly to these days, these days of diaper events and sour-smelling everything.
And we will toast our good fortune to have each other.