It’s taken me a while to get brave enough to put this story online.
It was Memorial Day weekend, and Brian & I decided it was finally time to paint the master bedroom. We did a lot of painting prior to moving in last summer (okay, HE did the painting), and we decided that we could live with that color for a little while longer. But the long weekend was a perfect time to finally get this chore done. So we gathered up supplies at Home Depot and set up for what we thought would take a long day.
It took two days, of course. And that’s with me helping where I could, and Brian doing the rest. (Okay, HE did the job and I just taped a little bit of the trim.) But I played with Helen, and occasionally stopped by to watch the progress.
Meantime, Helen was absolutely fascinated with the stuff inside the bathroom cabinets. I have these large crates filled with toiletries stored under the sink, with lots of medicines, and she thought those prescription pill bottles were the best toys ever. Little stuff that rattles? Sign her up for a dozen, please! She carried them all around the room, shaking them and clearly enjoying herself. Since the tops were child-proof, and we were both kind of focused on getting the paint work done, I gave in and let her play with the bottles.
Helen & I spent most of the 2nd day upstairs playing, but as Brian finished up, we came downstairs, and I tried to help by pulling off the tape around the trim. So there were giant balls of that blue tape everywhere, and as usual Helen had gone straight for the cabinets to find her favorite little toys.
Oh! I forgot to mention that it was pretty hot that day, and Helen had made a mess of her shirt at mealtime, so she had spent the afternoon running around in just a diaper. So, let me make sure you’ve got this image in your head – diaper-clad baby, walking around with pill bottles, while I’m crawling around on the floor of our bedroom, pulling up blue tape. Got it?
The doorbell rang. Brian was in the garage, putting away the ladder & paintbrushes, and chatting with a neighbor who had stopped by. I wondered, who rings the doorbell when Brian is standing 10 feet away? Helen was clearly occupied with her toys, so I raced to the door.
It was our next-door neighbor, and he was holding a foil-covered plate of food. Turned out they grilled shish-kabobs and had plenty of leftovers. Instead of throwing them away, he wondered if we might want them? Of course, we had no dinner plans (read: what, me, cook?) so the food was greatly appreciated.
Now, this guy is a doctor. He’s married to a stay-at-home mom who just had their fourth child (yes, FOURTH) in February. She’s THAT mom, too – always has the kids in cute clothes, plays fun games outside every day, and packs the essential snacks & drinks & toys for the trips to the pool. Plus, she’s really skinny. You get the idea – all the moms in the neighborhood secretly loathe this woman.
So her man, who’s married to this paragon of motherhood, was on my doorstep offering me food, and I was thinking to myself, okay, this is going well, now if I can just get him off my porch quickly enough … but you guessed it. I heard a little rattle behind me, and in slow motion, I turned in horror to see Helen walking down the front hall with the biggest grin on her face, wearing just a diaper, shaking a pill bottle in one hand, and dragging along behind her a giant ball of blue tape, which is stuck to one heel.
I turned back to him, and said weakly, “Yeah, um, Mom of the Year right here.” He sort of nodded and said goodbye, and I thanked him again for the food. As I shut the door and carried the plate into the kitchen, I was so very ashamed of myself. Not only was I unable to provide dinner for my family, but my baby looked like she spent the afternoon hopped up on pain pills and paint fumes.
Later, I found out at the neighborhood picnic that he’s a pediatrician.