When it all goes to hell and it still feels right

I woke up on this cold Friday with the plan to stay in my PJs as long as possible. It is now nearly 8p -13+ hours later!- and I am still in those PJs despite the fact that we covered miles today, saw more friends while out than ever before (eeks! didn't brush my teeth until 2p!), have been dealing with a searing fever and are all still up. What?

The kids didn't have school, and we had an empty dance card until a 3p visit with the Grands (do you remember!!?? the wonderful couple I cooked dinner for all of last summer). Because of this utter openness, I thought nothing of offering to bring T's computer to him at work without getting myself or the kids properly dressed first. "You'll come down and grab it from us, right?" I asked T. "Of course, hon!" replied he. His new office is much further from our house than his old one and it was just after 9 but I was sure we'd be no more than 25 or 30 minutes. So, I packed a meagerly charged iPad, jammied kids, no snacks other than a banana and two Millenium Falcon-shaped shortbread cookies and T's computer and took off.


50 minutes later, having stood at a standstill on Foxhall forever because of a broken down Mercedes parked with front hood up IN THE MIDDLE of the merger onto Canal from Canal and Foxhall, just past the one lane intersection at Reservoir (aah!), we pulled up in Arlington. Non-DCers, think of your town's busiest bottleneck, like the ultimate 3-into-1 that no urban planner ever foresaw, and you're at the intersection where this damn Mercedes called it a day.

The iPad battery is racing towards 0% as quickly as Jack can run his Minion through fields of bananas and Vector challenges, Oliver yelling all the while that A) it's his turn, and B) he is "weally" starting to feel bad. I plead with him to eat the banana, hoping against hope that hunger not virus is causing his malaise. We see Tom, he runs up, we share the briefest kiss known to man, exchange the computer and are off.

The traffic report is just getting around to telling us that some serious shit is happening on Canal and Foxhall. I decide to take Wisconsin home and the kids remind me that we've put a Rubik's cube on hold at the Barnes & Noble in Bethesda where they each have a gift card to spend. J decided yesterday that a Rubik's cube was the solution to life happiness and has been pestering me to buy one since. As I know this "solution" is as ephemeral as one you might mix in a chem lab, I told him that I wouldn't pay for the cube but he's welcome to spend part of his gift card on it. He agrees.

So we keep heading north to Bethesda. At this point I'm starting to feel the effects of A) not brushing my teeth earlier, B) not eating breakfast before we left, and C) not having donned a bra. In essence I'm a stinky-breathed, hungry hippie wearing too many clothes made of sweats material.

But I'm channeling happiness and zen like it's my job because the kids feel good that we did something nice for Dad, and also, it's a day off so we might as well make the best of it. We put all of my quarters into the greedy meter in front of B&N and head down to the kids' section. The boys pick out a smashing array of books before remembering that the DK Reader Star Wars section is near and vast.

We will return home with FOUR DK Star Wars books though, to the kids' credit, it was BOGO and hey, who doesn't want to know more about epic Clone battles. Jack bought a biography of J.K. Rowling and a Ballpark Mystery in addition to the Rubik's cube and SW books. Ol bought another Pete the Cat (Magic Glasses) and another Oliver Jeffers book (something cute about a boy wanting a star so badly) + his SW books. Love Oliver Jeffers.

We suffer a simultaneous glycemic drop on the escalator up to the cash registers (it's 12:10p at this point) but of course see friends in the line. I am stinky, braless, wild with hunger and the other mom looks great and her daughter is calm, quiet and has two demure books with glitter and stars on the front. I look at my kids and realize just what we must look like.

Oliver has on red and black Santa pajama pants, a blue turtleneck and orange/blue sneakers. He slept in the first two items and has not brushed his teeth; he looks a bit off. Jack is wearing (this is epic): brown Blundstone boots with too-long black sweatpants; a turquoise tee-shirt under a gray turtleneck; and a red and blue coat. None of his layers are equal, so clothing and colors are everywhere. He has not brushed his teeth. We are a collective hot mess. The cashier informs us that we are down a free Star Wars book so Jack goes downstairs to fetch another one. Like Bugs, he takes a wrong turn at Albuquerque and comes back empty-handed. Hunger is starting to make his eyes look wild.

We hastily bid our friends adieu -surely she is thinking "wow"- and take our piles of books, cubes, gift cards, shit to the basement level for the third or fourth time. Jack hurriedly decides on some other niche SW book, and finally we leave.

We literally haul ass to Boloco where we order via the self-service kiosk and where I question J's choice of the bold salsa for his burrito. The machine zeroes out my gift card balance before denying every credit card I have AND refusing cash. With eyes that are truly wild with desperation -Jack is Rubik's cubing like a lunatic- I look towards the cash register. The lady looks back and says, "those machines are hooked up to Boston. You havin' trouble?" "Yes I am, can you help?" "No, but you can come over here."

OMG, I am nearly in tears, the kids are starving, we see THREE more people we know, and the gal cannot reclaim my damn $10. I think I'm going to break down and I think she gets this because she starts comping me stuff left and right. My total is a good $5 more than it should be and at this point, I probably should have thrown in the towel, but I can't. The principle of it all! GAH! So she comps me a milkshake and says, "Honey, it's gonna be OK."

It's 12:30 and I am frazzled. We know so many people and my BREATH! Jack and Ol say the milkshake is other-worldly and suck it down through a shared straw. Keep the word 'shared' in mind. The burrito is another story, though, as the bold salsa is volcanic. #burritofail. So we pack up, say goodbye to everyone and head out. Oliver is wearing his pair of Magic Blue Glasses (they came in his Pete the Cat book and we made them during lunch) and those plus the aforementioned outfit prompt everyone to open the door for us everywhere there is a door before home.

When we finally, mercifully, arrive, I tell the kids I cannot do one more thing until I eat something. Ol puts his Pete the Cat book on the couch and immediately does a child's pose on top of it. He is down.for.the.count. Fever rushes in like sudden flood water, and that kid is SICK. I rue the shared straw while eating cold, leftover punjabi tikki so fast it's disgusting and minister to my little guy for the next five hours. Medicines don't do a damn thing, and Jack graciously plays more Minion Rush while I deal. We turn on Star Wars for a Mommy break, and I make 800 sandwiches. Ol eats one in the five minutes the medicine makes him feel better, thank god. Jack is like an open-ended tapeworm: insatiable voracity. I made a hot dog, broccoli, chicken, somuchfat smoothies. Sweet jesus, boys.

Sometime around 3 I brushed my teeth, but I'm still in the same clothes, braless, and feeling inordinately thankful that I styled my hair yesterday. Mrs. Grand woke up with a cold so asked us to visit another day. We are all on the same health page it would seem. Oliver was fully ablaze by 6:30p so I wiped him down with a cold washcloth. You cannot believe how quickly that cold turned warm. Oh my love! He cried and cried and then suddenly, things improved. I helped him into a fresh outfit, brushed his teeth, made a joke about his tush. He decided he could drink his smoothie and play some Minion Rush; Jack graciously parted with the iZombie after oh, 75 minutes. If I hadn't been tethered to Ol the whole time I might have felt like a subpar mom, but I don't.

In fact, I feel grateful. I am still wearing the same socks from yesterday, my teeth want another brush, and I've done entirely too much of the 1,000 piece Playing Cards puzzle. But I was such a good and present mom today. And there was a lot of love coursing around my house and throughout my brood. At one point we were all in my bed, 45 stuffed animals and books all around us, and we just were. Ol asked me to sing the "sunshine song," I think I fell into halfsleep during it and sang the wrong lyrics, Jack, again graciously, read his book and didn't correct me.

I gave Ol an early birthday gift (just ten days now): a copper, candy-cane cookie cutter that he said he MUST have back in December. I finally bought this ludicrously overpriced item and gave it to him tonight after he had on fresh jammies and a clean mouth. He kissed it, kissed me and then snuggled it during a slow dance. Jack said, "Mom, that was so thoughtful of you."

I about died, happily. Sometimes this is what it's all about.