I’m pushing a bright pink $29 stroller (yes, from Wal Mart) riddled with black scuffs, wearing my too-long hair in a falling, sweaty, half-ponytail, my toddler (Ally) is wearing a knock-off Disney princess baseball cap, mismatched clothes that look like hand-me-downs from a dumpster, and a grimace on her face that clearly states, “Must poop NOW!” My infant (Ashley) is squashed in the front-pack-baby-carrier and I don’t realize her head is flopping out and she’s rooting around like a distraught fish. The host at the marble-clad “Cheesecake Factory” gives me the required smile and whispers something to his co-worker. I didn’t hear what he said but I imagine it was something like, “I thought bag ladies weren’t allowed on this street.” When I ask for a table the waitress next to him looks especially uneasy but takes me to a booth.
You’ll be proud to know that I ordered a green salad instead of greasy fries with my greasy hamburger. I bounce up and down in the booth trying to sooth the baby while I stuff the juicy burger in my mouth, and use the other hand to block Ally from pouring the entire bottle of ketchup on her lunch. “That’s too much!” I say. My daughter replies, “But I LOVE ketchup!” I make some sort of grunt, look down at the hamburger, sauce, and lettuce bits that fell from my mouth onto baby’s head during Ketchup Rescue, double-grunt. “How are you doing?” Asks the waitress apprehensively. “Good,” I say. “Bad, I’m doing bad! How does anyone have more than two kids and remain sane!!?” Ally then pours salt and pepper into her drink, and I smile sheepishly at my server who looks at me like she heard that last part I screamed in my head. It's not pretty, but we're getting out of the house, and I'm figuring out in my own, ungraceful way, how to mother two children.