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Dear Jo: The Prophetess in Frozen Foods

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February 24, 3 years A.B. (after-baby)

Dear Jo,

I know it is weird to address yourself in a letter, but not much about your life has been normal since Emerson came crying into the world three years ago and completely turned your life upside down. I know this isn’t the way you envisioned your grandmother’s typewriter being put to use after you so carefully restored it. Yes, you were supposed to be sitting at these keys, pounding out that Great American Novel. You know, the one you never fully settled on when it came to theme, plot, character or really anything other than a vague idea.

So, here you sit. In yoga pants and a pony tail. No, you didn’t workout today. Or this month. This is your uniform. Your life. I’ve been told that I may not remember these days at some point in the future. While I’m okay with that, I’ve been warned that I might be sad and nostalgic. So, I’m here to remind you a bit about your life with a husband, a toddler and an infant.

Here goes…

Dear Jo: A {fictional} Diary of a Modern Mom

All you wanted was to make it through the grocery store. You didn’t want to take Emerson and Lyla alone, but you didn’t have a choice: you had made the last cup of coffee that morning. You even reused the grounds from yesterday, but the results of that were less than ideal. Just ask Emerson when he spilled his juice at the table and your resolve to not yell at the kids for one day ended before breakfast was even eaten. But you know better than to make such promises when Lyla is still waking three times in the night to nurse. If she’d just eat and then go back to sleep, it wouldn’t be as big of a deal. Instead, she thinks it’s time to look around and explore and poop in the diaper Paul just put on her.

So, you’re at the breakfast table, Emerson’s eyes are filling with tears and you realize that for everyone’s sake, you must go to the store and refuel your caffeine needs. I know, I know, caffeine and breastfeeding, how can you? Who ever made that recommendation? Yeah, it makes total sense for a woman who is being woken by little people throughout the night and then is expected to care for them solo the rest of the day with Thomas the Train peeping in the background that she not be properly caffeinated under such conditions. That’s not a recipe for disaster or anything.

You nurse Lyla, change her, coax Emerson into going potty and just get the baby into her car seat when you hear the noise. You know the one. The low rumble from below. Of course all Lyla does is smile, but you know that soon enough that toothless grin will turn to manic tears and screams until she gets a new diaper. So, you remove the blankets and the buckle. You unsnap the sleeper and change the diaper. She’s happy. She’s fine. Onward you go. Until you realize that Emerson has used those few minutes to construct a Thomas the Train layout of which he is now intent upon playing with. So, you coax again.

“Come on, Emerson. Buddy, let’s go to the store!”

He doesn’t seem as excited about the grocery store as he does about his train engines.

“Emerson, they will be here when you get back. Let’s go to the store and see what we can find!” It’s amazing how much enthusiasm you can fake on zero caffeine.

“I can’t right now. The Troublesome Trucks made James crash and now….”

“Yeah, yeah, that’s too bad, but come on. We need to go.”

“But first I need to….”

And then the lack of caffeine rears its head.

“Emerson! Now! I just nursed Lyla. If we don’t leave now, the whole schedule will be off and she’ll want to feed when we’re at the store. Come. On.”

Now Emerson is crying as you wrangle him into his puffy coat, which of course he hates because it feels “weird.” So descriptive. But you remind him—again—that it’s zero degrees outside and the coat is necessary.

So, you make it to the store. You put Lyla’s car seat in the basket of the shopping cart and situate Emerson in the kid seat so that he can kick you repeatedly as you stroll through the store. Of course now you have no place for food since the carrier car seat takes up the entire basket. But, you really only came for one thing: coffee. Though it did look like there is a good sale on Ben & Jerry’s….

Dear Jo: The Prophetess in Frozen Foods

You do your best to finagle the cart through the bakery without Emerson noticing. But the cookies and muffins and cupcakes and cookies catch his eye.

“Mom! Mom! Can we get some…?”

Why the kid doesn’t turn his head in the opposite direction to notice all the produce is beyond you.

Each aisle is likewise. Emerson sees. He wants. He begs. You instruct. Repeatedly. And of course all along the way, older women stop to coo at Lyla. She’s so precious. She’s adorable. And an older brother (for the few who actually take notice of him)! Ah, one of each! You must be so happy! At this point, happiness is a black elixir that has still managed to elude you.

Finally you locate the Breakfast Blend. Of course an older woman happens to be standing right in front of it. You nod and smile, willing her to step aside as she fawns all over Lyla. You just hope she isn’t one of those compulsive touchers. Thankfully she grabs her Folgers and moves on, but you notice that Lyla has begun to turn her head from side to side. Soon enough that tongue starts licking and you know what’s to come: she’s hungry. All you have left is just one stop: The Phish Food. Surely you can make it. Surely you can claim your ice cream and make it through check out before her want turns into a full-on need.

As you reach into the freezer for your treat, you realize the irony that Emerson has begged for treats and has come up empty handed. Well, other than those Goldfish that he suckered you into. But really, those things are pretty good, so let’s call that a win-win.

As you come out of the freezer and turn back to the cart, you see Emerson has located said Goldfish and has torn into the bag. Not only that, but Lyla has begun to grunt with each head turn. And then you see the Gray-Haired Prophetess.

“Oh, look at her. How precious! So sweet and so beautiful. And, look at you, young man. Are those a good snack?”

Emerson stares at her, as if you’ve taught him that he shouldn’t speak to strangers. In reality you’ve never had to have that sort of conversation with your little introvert.

“I guess he was just too hungry to wait,” you say, waiting for her judgment.

“Well, who can blame him?” she says as she smiles at him. Lyla’s fuss gains momentum and you want to move forward, but the woman blocks your escape.

“They are precious,” she says again. Then she looks you in the eyes. “These days go by quickly. A blink and they’re gone. Don’t forget them.”

You chuckle and put your hands on the cart to move forward. “I won’t,” you say as you walk away.

You look ahead to the checkouts and the lines extending from both open lanes. You have a choice: self-checkout or cashier who may force small talk. Really you don’t have a choice because Lyla is about to lose it. You know you don’t have your hooter hider, but you also know that not everyone in the store wants to hear a crying baby. So, you take her from her seat, cradle her in your arms and nurse away. No one seems to notice except for the college kid working the register who has probably only seen boobs used for pleasure and not purpose. But you really don’t care. After all, he sees more skin walking by the Victoria’s Secret store in the mall than what he sees from you right now.

He looks in your direction only once, when he says hello and asks about coupons. The rest of the time is down to business. And that’s fine because after all, you still haven’t had your coffee and, like Emerson, you’ve never been one for small talk anyway.

As Lyla spits up on your shoulder on the way to the car, you wonder why, if these days go by so quickly, they seem to drag on for so long.

MChurchHeadCrop10_10I hope you have enjoyed the first installment of “Dear Jo: A Diary of a Modern Mom,” a serial fiction story written by Meagan Church. Stay tuned for the next diary entry of one mom’s attempt to chronicle what she has been told are the days she shouldn’t forget…spit-up, tantrums, milestones and all. Be sure to subscribe today, so you don’t miss a single installment:


Have you download my free eBook “Motherhood Doesn’t Come with Sick Days…and other lessons from parenting”? Also, be sure to join the Unexpectant Facebook community today.


{Photo credit: ©gorosi –}

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