The Running of the Moms

On Monday and Wednesday mornings, outside a little brick building off a two-lane road that shall rename nameless but is spelled “Hay,” something happens that would make your eyelids pop inside out–the way that crazy kid used to do in third grade. His name was “Junior.” And he smelled like peanut butter and socks.

On Monday and Wednesday mornings, in a little town in northern Virginia,

The Moms Line Up.

Oh, I’m not talking about a nice single-file type. You won’t just roll up and find women with nice bob haircuts, leggings, and Uggs from Nordstrom reading their Kindles. I’m talking fierce moms. Moms who drive twin strollers with mufflers. Moms whose sunglasses double as night vision goggles. These moms are in it to win it.

They don’t want your money. They don’t want your sympathy. They don’t even want your breast milk (as far as I know).

They just want a spot in the library’s Story Time.

Inside those locked automatic doors and to the left, sit 26 small alphabet squares that are a reminder to lose your postpartum weight. A sixth of my left back pocket fits onto the letter “P.” I once tried grabbing another square to sit on, in addition to the “P,” and this guy, this sort of Judge Judy library bailiff dressed in a sweater vest and tie, he came over like, “Ma’am, extra squares cost extra.” His inside voice–and the way his lips closed back together without making a sound–unleashed the toy poodle in me, and I was all “extra squares cost extra…” mimicking him. But then I realized I was setting a poor example for Elie Mae, so I quickly pulled the BundleMe over her head before re-mimicking him.

I’m getting ahead of myself. So before those golden doors open at 10 a.m., a line of Eric Carle-hungry, Mother Goose-groupies has formed.

And don’t think they won’t camp out with their snack balls and goldfish. Or that they won’t let their babies have tummy time on the cold concrete sidewalk while they wait. This isn’t a game.

The first time I took Elie Mae to Story Time, I arrived five to ten minutes early (a Christmas miracle) and thought there must have been a fire drill. Then I got a closer look and nearly ran over a lactating squirrel in my surprise. Other BLACK people were there early, too. Whaaaaa….?

There was only one person I wanted to call on for help: the gibberish-speaking Farmer Fran from The Waterboy. I wondered what he’d have to say about this. Instead, I grabbed Elie Mae and checked things out for myself. What I found next nearly put a crack in my hands-free pump:

I was one of THEM.

As I crossed the parking lot and neared the crowd, I found myself sneaking in front of the less eager lurkers, eyeing a mom off to my right. She obviously had experience on her side. The engine of her stroller looked rebuilt. She had spikes on the bottom of her shoes, and, if I’m not mistaken, her eyes doubled as laser beam shooters. Her grasp of the stroller bar said, “I’m getting an alphabet square for Johnny whether you like it or not.”

And then something happened inside me. I felt it. I guess if I had to describe the feeling, I would say it was like these intense, nutty little leprechauns were racing around my milk ducts, making me crazy. These leprechauns, like some of the mothers waiting, were Irish Blacks. I know this because they were sprinters. These leprechauns were fast. If they had been White Irish leprechauns, I would have felt them hiking in Patagonia fleeces.

The race was on.

Call me crazy, but I began to breathe the alphabet out of my nose in little smoke letters. I strapped Elie Mae in extra tight and put an infant swimming cap on her just in case. “Baby, the leprechauns are making Mommy do this,” I whispered. “All my life, I had to fight…”

I never actually saw anyone open the doors. My only proof that the doors ever opened is that I went through them.

Everything from that point is a blur, like a bad dream. I remember being angry that the audiovisual department came before the children’s–seriously, who is still renting Top Gun? I remember stuffing my hand into a puppet and using it to put Johnny in a headlock, saying something like, “Mr. Frog doesn’t like greedy boys.” And I remember Johnny never looked at amphibians the same way again.

My dear reader, you’ve been warned. At the start of next week, when you arise from your cubicle for your third coffee break of the morning, you will hear these words ringing in your ears:

It’s 10 a.m. Monday. Do you know where your favorite soccer mom is?

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