Monday, July 9, 2012

target: the tenth ring of hell

I wrote this last week and did not get a chance to post it. Since then we went on a family 'vacation.' More on that later:-)

I had been barely clinging to the end of my rope. I was grappling with an old foil. Anxiety. Panic attacks. Once limited to school and social situations, it had now begun to pervade the mundane elements of my days. My chest filled with a hive of bees at the thought of leaving the house or interacting with people- even my extended family. I suspect it began to awaken as I tussled with the Ground Hog’s Day loop of house routines, dodging the throes of The Baby’s mounting exasperating two year old demeanor while fighting to no avail to nurse influenza of the psyche. I was bone tired from a deep internal aching for something more, something different. I hoped it would hush itself soon.

While I gave each day the old college try- hitting the reset button for a fresh start, the wires often crossed.  I found myself feeling more fragile at each trip up- wanting to fade into the background of my own life. The Mr. recognized this and suggested that we visit the nursery to buy flowers for the garden. I had been longing to fill patchy spaces which left the beds yearning for the closure of a finishing touch.

An afternoon in the sun gave promise for a stronger spirit. I felt more able. More steady. More clear. I accepted The Mr.’s suggestion of taking a family road trip the following weekend. And I agreed to run errands later that afternoon with him and The Baby to gather supplies for the trip. We serviced The Baby- she was fed, rested, pottied.  And, we headed to Target.

I wish I had been standing in wet sand- clement water washing over my feet, a balmy breeze tangling around my ankles. Instead I stood in an aisle where picked-over, discounted, seasonal overstock items await retirement at Target. The Mr. and I stood there trying to console our irascible two year old who had only moments earlier been pleasant enough to deceive us into thinking she could handle a quick errand. She thrashed boorishly in the cart under the grips of possession. She angrily yelled attention grabbing things like, “Go away! Be quiet! I want my mommy!”

As I inched the cart toward a more inconspicuous location, grabbing a hideous glittered fairy off the shelf to distract her, the dam broke. Hot, acrid pee- a Niagara flowing from the child seat- drenched my sandaled feet.  Torrents flowing, flowing, flowing. It splashed backward into the cart. Luckily the only item in the basket was a bucket of sand toys. The Mr. lifted the bucket- confounded by the volume and force of our child's stream. "Well, we have to buy it now," he said, tipping the liquid to the linoleum. I tried to mop up our trail with one measly tissue. 

Anxiety gripping my lungs and still stinging from The Baby's urine bomb, I sped to our SUV- sandals intoning fast wet farts against the tiles- while The Mr. paid for our new piss pot. In the parking lot, a compact vehicle had sidled up to our SUV leaving mere inches to open the door. The passengers were still inside with the windows rolled down. I graced them with a deluge of involuntary, colored locution. So much for remaining unassuming. I lifted the sopping toddler and held her at arms length. Now she was happy. "We're going to the car. We're going to the car," she sang loudly.

 As I tried to maneuver in the impossible space between the vehicles- hovering her waterlogged body over the seat, another splash of magma fell upon my bare toes. I looked down to find my foot dressed with curdled white matter. I looked up at The Baby, thinking that she had puked. She had not. If I had a hacksaw I would have held that wet child in one arm and amputated my foot with the other because at that moment the thought of stepping in someone else's vomit made me want to give up right there in the middle of the Target parking lot. It is a feeling that The Mr. expresses on every trip to Target.

My body assumed the bone structure of a hamster as I squeezed into the sliver of space on the floor behind the driver's seat- hanging my upchuck dripping foot out the door, wrapping the toes of my other foot on the handle to keep it from hitting the other car, holding The Baby by the back of her shirt above the seat with one hand, while searching for wipes and a change of clothes in her emergency bag with the other. I started to sob silently. The Baby, suspended above me, looked down and asked, "Why you sad Mama?' 

"Mama's a mess,” I answered. "And, you peed all over the place."

"You're a mess. And, I peed. Oh, I peed!" she merrily, nakedly chirped back. 

There were not enough wet wipes in the universe to insure that my foot was clean. When The Mr. joined us, he assured me that I had only stepped in milk which exploded from a carton left to fester and curdle on a 90 degree day in the sun. He may have been just trying to appease me as he could clearly feel my duress. We headed home to the solace of a bleach foot bath and relief of the clock ticking down the daylight minutes.

What doesn’t kill you at Target, certainly makes you stronger. While the sunny outlook of my new day turned soggy, for once in a very long time I did not feel defeated by a set back. That’s the thing about days- they eventually end. And there is always another chance to start again- this time with a cache of new skills highlighting your endurance and agility and putting into practice a valuable lesson: Always wear closed- toe shoes.


  1. Good-lord woman! What a day!

    As much as I can relate, and feel for your anxiety and bad luck.. I had to chuckle at pee part! You have a way with words, and the fact that you were able to take this crappy day, write it here in such a way that puts a smile on one's face.. shows that you made more than the most of it.


  2. oh. my. goodness.
    this made me cringe and laugh all at the same time. I have *so* been there. thank you for sharing this so I know that I'm not the only one that occasionally has traumatic outings with children. and I will never wear sandals to target again. really.