This happened over a month ago and it still haunts me. This story is both humiliating and hilarious all at the same time.
It all starts innocently enough. My dad, who lives about 2 hours away, wanted us to come visit and help him move to a new apartment. He doesn't need our help at all, but I know he misses his grandbabies, so I decided to load up all three kids and brave the trip. Now, the older two girls are usually ok in the car for about an hour before they start needing a drink, snack, spanking, etc., but my baby was only 6 weeks old and not yet a super great traveler.
Imagine my surprise when every single one of my children behaved magnificently the entire way there. I mean, no fussing or fighting or whining from the girls. The baby only cried when he was hungry and that was easily remedied. I only had to pull over once to burp him and we made record time getting to Dad's.
I tell you all of this to explain my rationale for deciding to stop at a Gap Outlet on the way home. Most of you probably think it's stupid to decide to go shopping with three children under the age of 5. Many of you would think that there is no way I can feasibly get any shopping done with the 18 month old through the store, hiding in the jeans, and the baby screaming because it's now after 5 p.m and that's what he does at that time of day. Well guess what? I CAN shop with an 18 month old tearing up the store and a 6 week old screaming. I just continue to smile politely at the sales clerks and apologize. I explain several times that I know I should probably leave, but you see, I just had a baby and I have nothing to wear and I never get to go to an outlet mall and the shorts are so cheap and I love Gap clothes and I already know what size I need so it's not like I need to try anything on so if you can just put up with us for just a few more minutes, we'll be on our way.
You would think that's as bad as it got. And it was kind of bad. I really did feel selfish and stupid shopping while my baby was so obviously miserable and the girls were going stir crazy, bored out of their minds. It was tough to make decisions with all of this chaos going on, so I ended up stacking more than I needed to onto the stroller. Did I forget to mention I was pushing an empty stroller this whole time? Oh yeah, I was holding a baby, pushing a stroller (which did come in handy for toting my monstrous pile of clothes, many of which I still haven't worn because I don't go anywhere), and trying to tame two kids who did NOT want to be there.
Well, you know how some people say, "It could always be worse." You know what? They are right. It got worse.
My oldest, who is 4, told me she needed to go potty. I said no problem and we went to the front of the store to ask to use the restroom. I was told that they don't have a bathroom in the Gap, it's a few stores down in the center of the outlet mall. I really find it hard to believe that all the Gap employees have to walk 4 doors down every time they need to potty, but that's what they said. I gave them the desperate "Help me," look and said "It's for my 4 year old," thinking they would certainly let her use the Employees Only restroom in the back. Nope. She says, cheerfully, "it's just to your right, a little ways down."
So I ask my daughter if she can wait until I pay for my clothes. She says "Sure mom, I can hold it. I'm a big girl. I need to go poopy, but I can wait." She's so sweet sometimes, she melts my heart. So I breathe a sigh of relief and proceed to the checkout. Oh, but wait! Here's a whole rack of stuff I haven't even seen. And I never get to go to an outlet mall and the shorts are so cheap and I love Gap clothes. So I have to look. My sweet little girl is fine. She says she's fine. I believe her.
So I shop a bit longer, decide that since all is well right now, I'll just take a look at the men's side. I'll bring my husband a little treat. That always goes a long way in keeping him from asking, "How much did you spend?" He'll be so busy being thankful that I brought him a $14.99 polo shirt, that he won't even notice the bulging bagful of clothes I slyly toss into my closet.
I find the "guilt shirt" for my husband and am back to the front in a flash. I'm ready to checkout. As the no-bathroom-here girl rings up my clothes, I give my best unselfish mommy smile to my daughter and say, too chirpily, "Ok baby, Mommy is done. We will go potty and maybe even get a Coke!!"
My precious baby girl, who hasn't complained for the last 15 minutes says in a cheerfully loud 4-year-old voice, "It's ok, Momma. I already went poopy in my pants." Oh dear God...did she just say that out loud?
I couldn't even look the checkout girl in the face. I just made my way back to the back of the store, picked up a pair of boxers from the boys' section, and slunked back up to the counter. I paid her for all of it, and gave her one more "I'm sorry, I don't get out much, but I'm a really good mom" smile. She gave me that "I'm young and perky and I have no kids and I'm embarrassed for you right now," polite smile and said "It's ok." And I know it's really not, but I'll never see her again anyway, so who cares?
We get cleaned up in the bathroom, almost losing the 18-month-old in the process (she can crawl under those bathroom doors in about 1.5 seconds), and everyone gets to ride the mechanical horse out front. Everyone is happy as we climb into the car.
A wave of guilt washes over me for about 5 minutes and I get tears in my eyes. And then I imagine the conversation happening in the Gap right now and just start laughing hysterically. I mean, hysterically. I call my mom to relay the story and she is appropriately shocked She gives me her standard, "That's why I never went anywhere when you kids were little" comment and seems to be impressed that I am not losing my mind. Yeah, well, that's only because it was already lost.
I don't know if Avery was traumatized by having to poop in a public store because her mom was too selfish to put down the clothes and go to the dadgum restroom. I don't know if I'll ever take all three kids shopping ever again. But one thing I do know: this isn't the last embarrassing, guilt-ridden mommy story I'll ever have to tell. Hey, the bright side is that I'll always have something to talk about!!