Running Naked

Photo obviously NOT from today.

I was stepping out of the shower this afternoon, hair dripping wet, and the house entirely too quiet, when I heard my son yell, "Mom, I got the mail for you!" before slamming the front door and heading back, full tilt, into the afternoon drizzle.

In a year or two, words like that, I suspect, will fill me with gratitude and pride. Today it wasn't pride that I felt; it was sudden panic and dread.

I am twenty-seven weeks pregnant. In my current state, energy seems to come and go. When I feel high from it, I seize the opportunity, bulling my way through to-do lists. Because more often than not, I don't feel that high, and simply keeping everyone fed and clothed is a feat worthy of reward. 

Clean bedrooms
Sweep + mop floors
Wash windows

My to-do list was fairly simple and straightforward. Once I got started though, I caught a gust of fortitude, determined to spring clean both bedrooms before the mornings end. I washed down the walls and trim, scrubbed window panes, mopped underneath the beds, shook out rugs.  Snowballing my way through that list, crossing off even more than I had originally added. By lunchtime I had only to sweep and mop the floors in our main living area, then I was going to call it a day -- fully planning to prop my feet after putting both kids down for naps. They'd sleep for hours, I just knew it.

You would think I would know by now that sleeping for hours, especially when I really want them to, is never the case. 

Minutes before Brooklyn finally settled, Carson made his escape. He has learned that if he is neither seen nor heard during Brooklyn's nap time, he isn't forced into a quiet time. He had donned boots and a coat and was out in the rainy weather, tousling his dogs.

In the midst of mopping the last section of floor, he came in, eager to help. Though I wasn't so eager for help, I begrudgingly handed him the mop. How will I ever get him to help with things later on in life, if I don't let him help out now? 

Once the floor was dry, I put all the furniture back in place and decided to run the vacuum over the living room rug one final time. That was my first mistake. Blurry eyed and hair a mess, Brooklyn traipsed out of her room, obviously not ready to be awake, though awake nonetheless. It was entirely my fault.

Sighing, I carried Brooklyn over to the dining room table, where I hoped she'd readily join Carson and his array of play-dough, colors muddled from being mixed. So much for my quiet, peaceful, prop-your-feet sort of afternoon.

The water in the kettle was near boiling. Even if my feet weren't going to be propped, I was still fully intending to enjoy an iced coffee, the reward of my labor. It wasn't going to be just any iced coffee. It was going to have Kahlua in it. (The alcohol content was hardly noticeable, I promise. But please, don't go telling my midwife.) This was maybe my second mistake. My mom had given this Kahlua to me well before Christmas. I'm not sure if I used it more than a time or two since. I poured a small amount into my cup, before placing the bottle back into the fridge. I don't know exactly what happened next. All I know is the bottle broke, sticky liquid pouring from the fridge door, down onto the freshly mopped floor. I didn't know if I should laugh or cry. While I was cleaning up that mess, one of my two kids dumped a glass of milk, simultaneously spilling off the bar stool himself. Nobody was hurt, though by now I was beginning to feel ruffled. 

I slurped my coffee while, yet again, mopping the floor. Nothing savored. Exhausted, this weary mom headed for the shower. By now both kids were playing together back in their bedroom, so obviously I sneaked away, unannounced.  

This was my third and most drastic mistake.

Now it's back to where this story began. I turned off the shower water, and heard my four year old yelling that he brought in the mail. 

We live in the country, and our driveway is, I'm guessing, 600 feet long. This meant that he went all the way out to the road to retrieve the mail, and where ever he goes, his sister is sure to follow.

So it was, like I said, with sudden panic and dread, that I hurriedly wrapped my wet body in a towel, its length hardly covering my swollen middle, and rushed toward the door. On the entryway bench sat a few pieces of mail, and with it, a snail. 

I shoved open the front door, and looked left... there, six hundred feet, though it might as well have been six hundred miles, away was my little Brooklyn. On the side of the road. By herself. 

I screamed. It was all I could do, before taking off in a record breaking sprint, toward that child who, unbeknownst to her, was facing sudden death. I did have the wherewithal to grab a winter coat before racing out the door. If I lost my towel along the way, at least the upper half of my naked body would be somewhat covered. 

Brooklyn heard the scream and took my panic for play. A game of tag? She bolted for the middle of the road, laughing as she ran. 

Barefoot, nearly naked and heaving for breath, I grabbed her arm and, not so gently, drug her to safety. Moments later an SUV went by.

Carson had caught up to me now, and as we headed back in the lane -- that walk of naked shame where I realized what a sight I must be -- I painted the worst possible scenarios in their young minds. Bloody mental images of child-pancakes, smashed onto the road by a speeding car. And I told them of the horrors that would befall their young rear-ends should they ever wander to the road alone again and make it back alive.

I didn't go alone, Carson said, Brooklyn was with me. And besides, why are you barefoot? 


(If you enjoyed this story which is, unfortunately, completely true, perhaps you'd like this one as well.)