Well……it happened. You know, “IT.”
My sister had errands and appointments yesterday that my two-year-old nephew was not able to attend with her. So he was hanging out with Uncle and Auntie…. We were also doing errands but just normal stuff that he could go along with. It was my amazing Father In Law’s birthday yesterday and we were hosting the family over for a BBQ dinner. So our errands included things like picking up a new patio set we’d purchased and a Costco run for groceries. Which is where “IT” happened.
I get to spend a lot of time with my nephew. His mama is at a point in her career where she must allot so many hours to finalize licensure and his daddy is a farmer, which means long & unpredictable hours. They are also a very social couple. I swear they must get invited to 5 or six weddings a year! They are great parents, but the busy schedules mean I (along with Daddy’s big family) get to hang with “Squish” pretty regularly.
I mention this only to validate my understanding of how “it” could happen any ‘ol time. And though I can’t imagine “it” wouldn’t hurt too much less then….”it” took my breath away when “it” happened yesterday.
I had picked Squish up fairly early in the morning and about the time we finished up our first errand, we were smack dab in the middle of his morning nap time. I felt awful, but we had some drive time, so he snoozed for about 40 minutes.
When we arrived at Costco, he was still sleepy but after rousing him and getting into the warehouse, he perked up and chatted with us, himself and every single food sample rep who told him how handsome he was & handed him a plain cracker or chip.
By the time we were ready to check out, our cart was over full (I knew this based not on my visual inspection of the cart, but by the way my husband was scowling about how much THIS trip to Costco was going to cost). Also because I was holding an increasingly whiny Squish when we loaded the conveyor belt & paid.
The checker asked if we wanted to add a donation amount to our total for a local Children’s Hospital. My husband begrudgingly obliged and they gave us the little tag to write our name on. My husband suggested we list Squish’s name, so I did.
The clerk handed the receipt to my husband, told us to have a great day, looked me square in the eye and said “and you have a very happy Mother’s Day tomorrow.”
The air left my lungs.
My hearing & vision left. It was like someone hit a “pause” button on my internal DVR.
My husband nudged me and the vision and hearing returned. Squish was still straddling my hip and though normally, I would’ve gone into the whole “oh, he’s not my son, he’s my nephew….” explanation, I couldn’t get words to form. I mumbled what I think was a “thank you” and we made our way to the door, my husband never making eye contact with me.
Before we reached the “receipt scan” line, I uncomfortably shifted Squish to my other hip, suddenly very much aware of his weight. I put one foot in front the other and as I begged my legs not to buckle from underneath me, I pulled my sunglasses from the top of my head and put them on my eyes to cover what I knew was there. Shear shock. Complete horror. Welled-up salt water.
We loaded the groceries and Squish into my vehicle (we’d brought two to accommodate the patio furniture). It wasn’t until then my husband asked if I was okay…..which served as the unlock mechanism for the tears to fall. “I’m fine.” I responded. He kissed my forehead and we parted ways.
I know this kills my husband, too. He can’t fix it. He hates seeing me so upset. But I also know its hard for him. I would never ask and he’d never say, but I’m willing to bet he had a little breakdown himself after we parted ways.
Cool thing about a two year old? You can pretty easily hide a breakdown from them. Sitting in the car together. In a parking lot. In broad daylight.
It wasn’t Squish’s fault. It wasn’t the clerks fault. How easily would anyone have assumed he was my child. That sleepy, whiny toddler who was wrapped around my neck and who might resemble me a little since he’s my only sister’s – who sorta looks like me – kid.
Today marks the first Mothers Day I know I’ll never be celebrated as one. The prior year Mothers Days were tough – very tough – but back then there was still a chance. We were still trying. Now we know that it will not happen.
And it’s been awful.
I almost snuck through without “it” happening and I can’t help but think how stupid it was of me to be out and about with Squish and not even consider what could’ve happened.
I hate this. I hate this. I hate this.