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.