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Graceful Exit

Wendy Copeland
Waukesha WI USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 20 No. 3, May-June 2003, p. 95

"I plan to leave here around 10 am. If we're much later than expected, I'll call." That's what I emailed to a friend the night before I left to visit her. But you know how things can go.

First, the baby decides she must nurse just one last time after her snowsuit is on. Then, she poops. Off comes the snowsuit. Now she's screaming because she hates having her diaper changed, so we nurse again for comfort. Then, we must put the snowsuit on again.

Okay, time to load up all the children. They're all buckled, I get in the car, back up, close the garage door, get back in the car, and I remember to ask the other children if they had been to the toilet. Of course, the answer is, "No," from two out of three.

So, out of the car I go, open the garage door, get back in the car, pull in the garage and unbuckle the children for a trip to the bathroom. Now the baby is crying because she is convinced our trip is over and she's ready to get out of her carseat. By the time those two older children are buckled back in, the baby is hysterical and there will be no peace while driving. So out comes the baby for one more nursing. I want to rush, but the baby still thinks the trip is over and would rather take her time and play with my teeth instead of getting down to business. We sit on the couch just long enough to appease her, and I put her back into her seat.

Now, I get in the car, back the car out, get out, and close the garage door, get back in the car, put on a seat belt, pull out of the driveway, drive down the street, and we think we're on our way. "Mommy, now I have to go, too," says the third one who just minutes before insisted his bladder didn't even have one drop in it. I pull into the bakery parking lot, turn around and go back home.

Once again, we pull into the garage. Child Number Three jumps out and we wait patiently. Then I beep the horn. Now I am impatient, trying to remain calm and keep my composure as I look at my watch. Three minutes later, I turn off the engine, get out of the car, and go back into the house. Number Three is going "number two" and isn't done yet. I move quickly back into the garage, try to ignore the cries from my baby, and tell the other two children I have to make a phone call. Back in the smelly house, I call ahead to say we're now running 30 minutes late and expect to be on the road in 10 more minutes. Number Three is now finished, and we head for the car.

Of course, I ask if anyone else might have to go potty one more time before we leave. They both unbuckle and try to get out of the car as Number Three is trying to get in. Number One gets his foot stepped on and does a great impression of a wolf howling at the moon. I reprimand Number Two for pushing and Number Three for not waiting for Numbers One and Two to get out of the car before he charged his way in. Two and One are now in the house using the bathroom, and all the while Number One is howling and crying up a storm, although he's forgotten why.

Baby is now hysterical again and needs to get out. I nurse her one last time as her two siblings are getting back in the car. Feeling hurried, I nurse only briefly and baby is not happy with the short nursing session. I put her back in her carseat, check all three older children's buckles, and request that Number One stop crying.

I climb into the car, back up, climb out to close the garage, and get back in. I tell my son to stop crying so he can hear the children's cassette tape I'm putting into the car's tape player. I breathe deeply and look forward to happy, noisy child sounds for the drive and hope the baby won't cry again now that her personal three-member entertainment committee is with her in the car.

It's now exactly one hour since I was originally ready to go and I'm leaving 20 minutes later than I said I would when I called ahead. That's okay, though. I look forward to being punctual again, someday. For now, anyone who knows me doesn't expect me to be right on time with my four little children!

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