I was smug.
The morning had been an absolute success. With a waffle breakfast, coffee, a shower, and some cleaning behind me I figured we could head out to the park where our playgroup was meeting. Hippo Park 10 am was scrawled on my calendar, with an all-caps PICNIC circled under it. A reminder to bring food and drink to keep my offspring alive.
Driving down the road, I thought about how I had loaded up Brixton, his backpack with lunch, his red wagon, and even a quaint quilt to sit on for our picnic. "Wow! This feels great! Like a real parent!"
Maybe you're thinking, "What's the big deal? I do that every time I go out."
Well, congratulations. You get a Mom-Badge for your lapel that says RESPONSIBLE.
I have a friend here, let's just call her Mandy because that's her name. Mandy and I hang out with our kids often. She's really nice. I like her a lot. When we have play dates she always has some sort of amazing concoction--a fruit pizza, grilled pizza with homemade dough, a life-size castle made out of gingerbread. And she has two kids. And her house is always clean. And she's pretty.
Often times our playdates look like this:
(kids come to us)
Me: Oh, sorry Brixton. Mommy has nothing/only these dried up yogurt raisins/a breathmint for you.
Brixton: Snack! Snack! (crying)
Mandy: Here, I have some extra snacks! (At this point she pulls out like 5 different options, including fresh fruit from her bag. PS her bag isn't all that big, but I think it leads to a 5th dimension that's a totally stocked pantry)
Brixton: Yay! Cade's mommy so good! Brixton's mommy no love Brixton.
Well, that's happened a few times now. But, folks, today it wasn't happening. I knew Mandy was going to be at the playdate, and by golly, my kid was going to eat his own food for once. He even had enough to share! Mandy would feel the relief that she didn't need to call CPS, feed my child again, sacrifice yet another organic fruit pouch that was meant for her own children--and she might start to feel hope. Hope that I was a good mother. Hope that I could be a good friend. Hope that I wasn't just a mooch.
We pulled up to the park. The ladies sat under a shady tree. The children ran around playing.
Life was perfect.
I got out of the car and helped Brixton out of his seat. I grabbed my purse. No, no I didn't. I forgot it at home. Driving without a license. Wonderful.
Surely I didn't....
I must have brought....
I brought nothing to the park but a blanket and a red wagon I was too ashamed to bring out of my car. I forgot the damn backpack. I forgot the carefully packed lunch, the thermos filled with cold water, the snacks to triumphantly share.
Instant dread. Sadness. I wanted to cry. I wanted to get back in the car and drive away, but they'd all already seen me and there was no place to hide.
I dragged my blanket over to the others. Mandy arrived a while later and heard my embarrassing sob story. Soon after Brixton came over, like a vulture circling a dying deer, and swooped in with the words that broke my mama heart to itty-bitty bits.
How can you explain to a 2 year old that you forgot his water and food, but remembered the completely useless red wagon? You don't. You just let your friends feed him again.
As always Mandy reached into her other-worldly diaper bag and Brixton was met with a feast. Another kind friend gave us a pouch and a juice box. Brixton started going up to Mandy later and asking for more food. I think he gave up on me.
Now, if we go to play dates, I'll have to convince Brixton everything will be okay.
"Don't worry. Cade's mommy will be there."
PS Thanks, Mandy & Nicole. Seriously.