The Traveling Parade of Free Birth Control

We pulled into the Starbucks parking lot just as the kids were waking from their nap. We’d been driving for 2 hours, halfway between Dallas and Austin in college-town Waco. It was time for a break.

As I pulled Leyna out of her car seat, I got a whiff of something foul. I instinctively pulled back her diaper to confirm the mess I suspected, then I pushed the assortment of shoes, jackets and old sippy cups off the bench seat in the Jeep, plopped her down and changed her diaper because I was 90% sure there wouldn’t be a changing table inside.  A rouge cup rolled out of the car and into the parking lot. I screamed at Kendall as he went to chase it. “DON’T YOU DARE! STAY RIGHT HERE.”

Parked directly in front of the picture windows of a Starbucks full of college students, we were on display, a traveling parade of free birth control.

We exploded into the coffee shop as discreetly as a pack of drunken monkeys. My hair, in a greasy, sloppy ponytail, my shirt tucked up under the baby on my hip, showing the stretch mark covered muffin top peeking over the top of my pants. I restrained Kendall with my other hand as he tried to burst free and run wild, to burn off all the energy that had built during the last 2 hours in the car.

Our mission was simple- to use the restroom and to get me some coffee. Well, simple for the average person traveling alone. Not very simple for a mother traveling alone with 2 kids.

As we made our way to the back of the store for the restrooms, Kendall broke free and grabbed an armful of snacks. After  I managed to wrestle them away from him with my free hand and explain that we couldn’t take them to the bathroom with us,  we rushed past a table of students and an off-duty barista. They all looked at us like we were contagious.

Finally inside the bathroom (without a changing table, of course) I was faced with the task of helping the 4 year old, helping myself, and keeping the toddler from licking the floor. I’m pretty sure everyone on the other side of the door could hear:

“No, you don’t have to get naked. Please don’t take all your clothes off… Are you done? STAY STILL. I will wipe it…. No, no, no, no, that is ICK. No. Stop…Please stand up, please be still, please wash your hands, don’t drink that water!… Hang on, wait, DON’T OPEN THE DOOR!!”

As we opened the bathroom door and stumbled out, I smoothed my hair back and Kendall made a break for the mound of snacks again. Everyone was motionless, looking up from their phones and laptops, staring, terrified.

My face said it all, no need for words.

Happy Friday, kids. Be sure to wrap it up tonight. You’re welcome. 

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  1. Thanks for the laugh. My two are about the same age as Kendall and Leyna, so I can oh, so identify. Why must they touch everything in a public bathroom?

  2. OMG I hate those stops and why must it be so hard to go to the damn bathroom when you have a potty training preschooler and a toddler? Your potty break sounds a lot like mine. You had a great trip!!

  3. Thanks for the entertainment. Reminds me of the time i went to lunch with a friend and our 3 under 3. We shared the single occupancy woman’s bathroom b/c of potty training in progress. one of her boys was using the toilet and the other whipped it out and pissed all over the floor…which my daughter promptly fell in. We received a standing ovation when we walked out. Apparently bathrooms at Freddy’s aren’t very well insulated. oh yeah I was also hugely preggo at the time.

  4. How funny! This sounds exactly like me except I have four mine are 6, 4, 3, and 7 months :)! I feel the same way when people stare or the looks you get like you should have stayed home or thats what they think! Thanks for the laugh and for letting me know im not the only one who gets the terrifed stare!

  5. That sounds like Waco. We always stop there on our way from Lubbock to College Station. I’m pretty sure we are also a traveling parade of free birth control, but we always seem to end up at Panera,

  6. Angela Garrison on

    Thanks so much for the laugh at myself! I am the mother of 5 ages 15,13,7,5 and 5 and most of your stuff I find myself saying, “Been there, done that” and this is no exception! I am glad you hit on the “free birth contol” because I frequently say that about our situation and my 15 year old daughter. She has spent most of her life (that she can remember) caring for and helping me with her siblings. I always say it is the best form of birth control EVER! While all of her other teenage friends are so enamoured with the teen mom reality shows, my daughter has seen the dark underbelly of raising babies and toddlers and she wants NONE OF IT! Ask her how many kids she is going to have and the answer is a loud NONE!!! Which is just fine for me. I imagine this will change down the road, maybe when she is 30! Keep up the great writing and know that it gets better in a lot of ways and not so much in others! (Think 15 year old girl and hormones! That can rival a teething toddler anyday!)

  7. The wife’s been dropping not so subtle hints for kid #2. Last night she put a fussy two-yr old into our bed to get her to fall asleep. I walk into to check on her to find a dry-heave inducing smell and our child standing there with poop smeared from her chin to her knees. Her impromptu finger painting had left our bed inoperable to say the least for the foreseeable future.

    In case that was enough of a deterrent, I’m stopping at the drug store on my way home….

  8. I’m betting every mother has been in this exact same position before. I know I have. I guess it is all how you handle it during the moment. Sometimes I feel like I am doing a marvellous job at being calm and collected and other times I’m flying around like a crazy lady. Do you think Victoria Beckham has these moments? Sort of funny to picture actually. High heels and a leather dress can make you work up a sweat battling children!

  9. Yes, yes and yes I have been there and done that. I laughed out load at the “DON”T OPEN THE DOOR!!!” comment. Happens to me everytime I take the 5 year old to a public restroom. Thank you for the laugh this morning and know that you are not alone. 🙂

  10. This should be the sequel video to the birth one they show in science class. After that you can be sure that the teen parenting rate will drop radically!

    Traveling alone with kids is most brutal when it comes to potty breaks. Mine are older now so we no longer worry about licking the floor… but the 4yo does take the words “don’t touch anything” as a dare. No, I faced my worst nightmare last summer. Bathroom at O’Hare… two little girls, me, and my… time of the month. I had to “change” because we’d already been traveling for 4 hours and well, I couldn’t exactly have them not in the stall with me. There was a lot of “NO YOU CAN”T TURN AROUND YET.” being yelled…

  11. The horror of taking a spastic toddler into the Ebola-infested public restroom makes me wish he wasn’t potty trained!

  12. Hahahaha. I love it. Every bathroom trip I take is similar – No hands in the toilet, don’t touch the floor, it’s not polite to look under the stalls, DON’T OPEN THE DOOR!

    Thankfully, she’s only splashed in the toilet one time and when she burst out of the stall while I was peeing, the bathroom was completely empty and nobody saw me struggling to chase her while pulling up my pants.

  13. Having made that same trek down I-35 alone with my two kids more than once, I’m pretty sure I’ve been the traveling parade of free birth control at that same Starbucks. First of all, something about Waco makes my daughter have to poop EVERY.DAMN.TIME. we drive through. Even if she just went to the bathroom. Even if she’s sound asleep. ESPECIALLY if her little brother is sound asleep and I’ve just slipped into a blissful driving groove, patting myself on the back for how smoothly our road trip is going. It’s like some crazy Waco gravitational pull on her intestines or something.

    The last time we were in that Starbucks I barely survived the poop hotbox while desperately holding my own pee (note to self: should have taught 5 year old bathroom etiquette about letting a #1 person go first before setting up camp), and trying to keep her little brother from playing with the “lasso!” he saw in the lady trash can. Fiiiiiinally get out of there to stand in line for my hard-earned coffee, and my 2-year old decides, despite having been weaned for 9, 10 months, that this is a perfect opportunity to suddenly take renewed interest in my breasts, grab a hearty down-the-shirt handful, and yell “Thass ya NURSE, mama?!”

    During all of this I realize I neglected to roll down the car windows and probably almost killed my poor dog. Good. GAWD.

  14. jennifer hutchins on

    I absolutely love reading these after a long day at the office and then I come home and my house looks like a tornado came through it and both my ten year old and my husband are sitting on the couch buried in their “gadgets”. seriously, and am I the only one that wants it clean in here. This instance is me every weekend and I’m sure my husband on the weekdays. I loved it so much I had to share!

  15. My 14 month old still isn’t walking so I have to use the bathroom while holding the baby… while my 3-year-old tries to escape. The hardest part of it all? Pulling up my pants.

  16. *Wiping tears away* I’m glad to not be alone in this. Last time I was on a road trip alone with the kids, my toddler did taste the floor while I was changing his sister covered in poop. Parenting is not for the weak!

  17. Yes! Your bathroom experience is yet one more reminder of why I (or ANYONE) need to invent the toddler-public restroom “jump seat”. Oh how many times have I been in a public restroom bewildered by the fact that I cannot be the only person that had a child that needed help going potty, but also a baby that needed to be held. This country has given us the iPad and Baconaise, can we PLEASE get some kid of seat to strap a kid into while the other is being held hovering over the toilet?!?!

    Plus, this story reminds me of my cousin’s daughter who was about 3. They were in a restroom and my cousin was teaching her daughter about the importance of flushing the toilet with your foot. Her daughter looked at her, looked back at the handle, thought about it for a second and then LICKED IT. LICKED.THE.HANDLE. AHHHHH.

  18. This is how people become hermits.

    It starts with a horrible trip to Starbucks and the next thing you know, you’re ordering all of your perishables and paper goods from Amazon just so you don’t have to show your face at the supermarket again.

  19. Jill, the post was perfect. It captured what I’ve said time and time again to my 3 year old. And, all the comments are hysterical. Thanks!!!

  20. “We exploded into the coffee shop as discreetly as a pack of drunken monkeys. ” I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve felt this way out and about, alone, with my 3 under 5!

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