Which Mommy Are You?
One way to respond to inquisitive neighbors about "who's who."
When my toddlers arrived home on the verge of multiple near-supper-meltdowns, I had doubts as to whether a trek to the neighbors was a good idea; and that was besides the fact that I was wearing rubber boots and shorts in a total I-Work-From-Home-And-Never-See-Anyone kind of way. But my eldest had the idea and we encourage our kids to be social and to play outside.
Strolling 300 meters takes 3 hours at toddler speed, so who knew if we would ever even get there before supper was ready. None-the-less,we packed water, a first aid kit and left right away.
When my youngest boy made it around the corner and up the first hill, he hunched over and began yelling at a garden gnome as only an exultant 17 month old can.
Too late, I noticed a car in our neighbor’s driveway.
“They have company, B., let’s come back another time,” I said to my eldest.
“Come on, Mama,” he called back instead and ran up to the first window he saw.
“That’s the bedroom—not that window—watch the flowers,” I said in a usual after-work torrent of instructions.
But already our very kind and very sweet neighbor was greeting him. We were going in.
I looked at my phone and tried to calculate the window of time before Toddlergeddon: the hour when children are so tired, hungry and over stimulated after day care they become unreasonable bricks of lead which need to be simultaneously carried, fought off from biting and immediately fed bulky liquid foods as if by IV.
I like to have them eating by 5 .p.m. My phone said 4:49.
Back home, my wife would have the TV on and be happily chopping away in childless quiet.
Before kids, we saw these neighbors weekly. You’d think that après-kids, you’d travel around spreading the joy of children.
“Why haven’t I been here in ages,” I wondered quietly.
My boys had already poured in over the floor boards like they owned the place. One found the TV and the other one began licking the floor.
Tucking my Wellies carefully to the side, I looked up and realized I knew all the visitors.
We exchanged the usual greetings and started to catch up on each other’s lives as neighbors do.
Two of the visitors started talking in a language other than English and were gesturing at the boys.
“Which boy is yours?” A fact needed to be confirmed before their conversation could continue.
They both are—I hesitated. And said instead, “Do you mean which one did I carry?”
They nodded. I recited the quick fact card on pregnancies and guided the subject away with a question that allowed me to begin planning how to get the boys back into their boots. They were now each holding a piece of something large and sugary.
“They look a little like each other—that’s good,” someone said.
I guess we would say the same thing about chipmunks, I thought. I gestured for my eldest to come towards the door. He smiled sweetly, took another piece of the treat and moved further away.
“Who’s who?” I must have looked confused. “What do they call you?” She clarified.
“I’m Mama and Vicky’s Mummy – the British spelling,” I said quickly.
“It must be so confusing for them to remember!” they laughed.
“Surprisingly, we all remember each other’s names,” I started to smile back. But my eye caught site of my youngest who was holding his treat, stroking it and saying “Mama” and the irony was too great.
“One more mango for the road,” I called. And my beloved children came to the door, slipped on their boots and began banging on the door in a cacophony of “Let’s go outside, Mama.”
I gave my best helpless “Duty Calls” shrug and smile and thanked them for the visit.
Anything you would have done differently?
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