Great Confrontations

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I thought the days of getting kicked out of just about anywhere ended when I left TV news. Tracking down some funeral home owner accused of mismanaging funds, or some district attorney charged with taking bribes is no longer part of the routine (not that I ever liked confrontation). My new routine involves play dates, trips to the park and potty training (ironically, now I’m the one dishing out bribes).
Brandon earns “special gum” for a successful trip to the toilet. Of course successful is a relative term. He can pee on the bathroom floor and still get special gum. He’s pretty proud of his new undies and when he needs to go, it’s truly an urgent matter (like drop your pants in the middle of a mall food court urgent).We were noshing on pretzels when he nearly whipped out his a few weeks ago. No one told me how fun this would be or how long it would take. I can barely keep track of when I need to pee and now I’m in charge of keeping track of his urges (and cleaning up after them too.)

This is by far my least favorite motherhood chore. Especially, after last week. I kicked through puddles of shame as I faced one of the most mortifying confrontations of my life. It happened at a park in a friend’s neighborhood. Brandon played, the baby slept and all was well until I heard the phrase “mommy, I need to go pee-pee.”

I scooped him up and headed toward the bathroom. Okay, we’ve got this. Then I noticed a keypad lock on the door. My friend didn’t know the code. The park was teaming with kids and parents. I went back around to the front of the building. I knew how urgently he needed to pee. He probably needed to go twenty minutes before ever verbalizing it. This was serious. Why didn’t I ask him? Why didn’t I scope out the scene before he needed to pee? Why didn’t I have an extra pair of pants? Oh, look some bushes.

I gave him the O.K. The area appeared empty. I didn’t know what else to do. I looked around like a crook trying to dodge reporters. That’s when I noticed an office window and employees gazing in disbelief (mouths gapping and all). My son’s Thomas The Train underpants sounded the alarm.

“Ma’am, this is private property. This is unacceptable,” an employee said after exiting her office space. “Do you live here? What homeowner are you with? Why didn’t you ask us for the code?”

“I’m so sorry,” I said, eager to give my side of the story. “He’s two and potty training. I didn’t know what else to do. I had no idea this was an office. You have kids right? I am so sorry. We’ll be leaving.”

The woman softened and admitted she raised boys. I still wanted to hide in the bushes. Motherhood aims to humble. I’d like to say no one warned me but they did. I just didn’t listen. I thought TV news was glamorous and exciting before I started. Professors warned me then too. I didn’t listen (and I’m glad). I found my strength in a small market newsroom. I cried every night for at least a month. The tears returned with the weight of responsibility when we brought our son home from the hospital.

I won’t ever like confrontations or potty training but I can appreciate the hard days a little more lately (the fussy days, the tired days, the days I wish I could tell my younger self to rest up for or even the not funny enough to blog about days). Those days matter too. I can sit with another mom and tell her “I understand.” I can warn expectant moms that it’s not all snuggles and sing-a-longs. Although, I know they shouldn’t listen. Let them confront a new level of humility, strength and invincible love waiting at the end of their worst days. I know I have. And who knows? I’ll probably do it again tomorrow (we are still potty training.)

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