You're a mom, right? That means you can do everything. Your children tell you that in words, actions and love every day. You can do it all. And too many times, women think they should. But, I've found firsthand, there are some times when no matter how supermom you think you are, you should still leave the kids home.
Having moved to a town where I knew no one, I was hesitant to try to find a babysitter. I'd done it once, and the result was not great. I blamed myself. It was my fault for needing to go somewhere my toddler twins couldn't accompany me. Never again, I foolishly resolved. If you want to do something right, you've got to do it yourself, yes? No.
"Can I press the button, mommy?"
"Why are we going in the elevator, mommy? The doctor is downstairs."
"No, your doctor is downstairs," I correct my three-year-olds as they clamber around me, trying to get at the shiny elevator doors. "We're seeing mommy's doctor today."
The girls appear shocked.
"Why?" they ask their favorite question.
I just shake my head.
"Are you sick? Are you okay, mommy? Do you need a hug?"
Okay, that gets me. I laugh.
"No, just like little girls, mommies have to go to the doctor once a year or so. Just for a checkup." I steel myself. There's no lesson in humility like having to bring your toddlers to a gynecologist appointment because you don't have a babysitter.
But apparently, I'm not the only one in the history of the planet who has had to do it. The secretaries show no surprise, no disgust as we barrel through the door, all Raffi songs and energy. Well, two of us, anyway. I admit, I'm dragging my feet a bit.
The other patients do look up, startled. I just smile my now well-worn "sorry-we-exist" smile, usually reserved for coffee shops, libraries and other places where adults like to go. No hard feelings. I know we must be an oddity.
They run around and thankfully are generally cute the whole time we're waiting, and when the doctor calls me in, lo and behold, there are toys. Glorious, filthy, old, broken doctor toys that every snotty, sticky child ever has already touched and sneezed on.
I point to them excitedly. Go, go, children! Be free! Is that a book explaining the religious unpinning of Christmas, complete with a Satan figure? Awesome! Look at the pictures! Do anything! Just don't look at me. Don't look at me.
The doctor seems to understand. We get through the small talk quickly, and he leaves. I put on the paper gown which draws the girls' attention to me, of course, because I'm now wearing a paper gown. They want one, too. Thankfully, one of the old battery-powered thing-a-ma-bobbies still work, and I can distract them with that until the doc comes back in.
Up on the table, legs in the stirrups, you'll feel a little pressure, scrape, snap, done.
I think I'm safe. I foolishly think the girls didn't notice that whole thing.
Quietly we pack up and the girls wonder why we can't take the lovely paper gown with us. Sorry, kids, that's one fashion statement even I'm not willing to make.
In the car: "Mama, are you sure you're okay? That looked like a pretty bad shot."
"Yes, baby, I'm fine. It doesn't hurt. It's just a regular old checkup."
"Will my doctor do that next time?"
"No, not for a long time. It's for grown up girls."
"Oh, okay, good." Their relief is palpable. And here they hadn't thought there could be anything worse than shots. Ever.
I brace myself.
"Can I have a popsicle."
Yes. Yes, you can. You can have a million popsicles while I sign up for a nanny-finding service, and start calling references for babysitters. Right now.
As moms, (and stay-at-home moms in particular), so often we don't want to give up that control over our lives and our kids. Many times it feels already as if we have no control at all. We're stuck babbling to our little loves all day, with little adult interaction. We have no say over how our day goes. We could plan a trip to the park, to the grocery store and to the post office and do none of it because our child can't get the right hat on, is too tired, hungry, cranky, whatever. And even if we do make it out of the house, what in that list has to do with us? None of it. It can get so that we have no firm grasp on who we are.
We lose our sense of personal space (something we need to do, as even bathroom time has been compromised by little fingers and the calling of "mommy!") and project that on everything we do. Compound all that if we've recently moved to an area where we are a stranger. The isolation becomes even sharper. And instead of reaching out, we reach in, we try to do it all. This funny story digs at a deeper meaning, an important note to moms everywhere: It is okay to take some time for yourself. Whether it be going to the gynecologist's office, or getting a coffee, moms are people too. Not super-people, just regular people. Regular people who deserve a break just like everyone else.