I don't know if it was because it was almost 100 outside. I don't know if it was because the kids woke up fresh from naps while Mommy was worn out from spending like amount of time cleaning. I don't know if it was because the post office was, as usual, insanely busy. Whatever the reason, it was One of Those Days.
I got the kids out of the car and carried Elizabeth on my hip, my packages in a bag over my arm, my purse dangling on my pinkie and Joseph holding on to my top. We trudged across the parking lot and went to stand in line. While E squirmed and tried to escape, Joseph started swinging on the railing, brushing perilously close to the senior citizens behind us.
"Please stop, darling," I warned in a sweetly menacing voice.
"Why?" asked my obnoxious four-year-old.
"Because you may hit someone," I gritted through my teeth, sending a strained smile to the frowning gentleman behind us. Joseph stopped swinging. For two seconds. "Joseph, honey, this is not a playground. Please stop swinging."
"Because I said so. Why don't you look at the Toy Story envelopes." Yes. There are Toy Story envelopes at the Post Office. Disney: They're everywhere. Joseph wandered two feet away while Elizabeth started pulling my shirt down to try and reach her mid-afternoon snack. Fending off her hands, I moved to the counter and plopped her down.
"I need to mail two packages and get a book of stamps." I fumbled in my bag, one-handed, grabbing Elizabeth as she took off crawling across the counter, eyes on the scissors. I clutched the first box and pulled it out only to discover that it had fallen open. I crammed everything back in and tried to re-stick the tape.
"This is why I should have used packing tape," I muttered, embarrassed.
"I have tape. Let me do that for you."
I grabbed Elizabeth seconds before she would have attacked the ATM keypad. "Thanks." I reached into my bag for the second package. At that point, Joseph started tugging on my shirt.
"Hold on a sec." I juggled my bags for my wallet and then clasped Elizabeth as she tried to punch the buttons on the card machine.
"Hold on a sec, honey."
"FREEZE!" Joseph froze, a funny look on his face. Elizabeth tore off her shoes and threw them on the floor. I swiped my card, entered my PIN, grabbed her shoes, threw my purse, card and keys into the now empty bag, took my stamps and looked at the clerk, sweat beading on my forehead.
"Will that be all?"
"Yes. Thank you." I started walking away.
"You forgot to address the smaller package. Do you want to do that now?"
"No, no. That's okay. I'll do it at home and have my husband drop it off tomorrow." I started walking away.
"MOMMY!!" I turned to look at Joseph. "You didn't say unfreeze!"
"Sorry, baby. Unfreeze."
I took the kids to the car, buckled them into their seats, turned on the AC and had one, crystal clear thought:
Children must the leading cause of alcoholism.
Mandy Dawson is a wife and mother of two living on the beautiful Central Coast of California. While she's not fantasizing of nannies, a cool drink and a hammock, she can be found blogging at http://inmandyland.blogspot.