It all began when he showed up at the door without calling first.
He had said he would call.
I saw him approaching the front door, and breathed a prayer of thanks that he hadn’t glanced in the window to see me nursing the baby. I hurriedly interrupted my infant’s lunch and unlocked the front door, asking him to give me a minute as I got my kids situated. I threw on the baby carrier and strapped my youngest in. Sliding open the front window, I instructed the older boys to watch from inside, and then I joined the man in the driveway, bouncing my infant in my arms.
He was there to assess the damage on my SUV from when I was rear-ended a couple of weeks ago. “This must have been where the other car’s license plate hit the bumper?” He asked me. I looked up to see my two-year-old running down the front sidewalk. No shoes. No socks. No pants. He giddily joined us in the driveway, his bare toes stepping gingerly across the gravel. All the while my not-quite-four-year-old was yelling from the open window, “I won’t come outside, Mama! I really, really promise!!”
“We’ll need to start the car so that I can take a photo of the odometer.” He instructed. I had left the key inside, and told him I’d be back in a moment. Ellison began to follow me back inside. That’s when I heard the noise of little hands hitting cement and turned to see him on his knees. I rushed to him and reached out my hand. He was crying now and wanted to be held, but I couldn’t manage to hoist him up while the baby was strapped to me. I held tight to his hand while guiding him back inside.
I returned back outside with the key in hand, and this time both boys followed me out, Ellison asking repeatedly for me to put his shoes on. As the man took his odometer photo for the claim, I bent down to the sidewalk. With one hand I balanced the almost-sleeping infant against me while helping Ellison put on his shoes. That’s when the baby woke and spit up half his lunch across my chest.
The man approached, and I rose to receive the paperwork he was handing me, nonchalantly wiping regurgitated breast milk from my front. My toddler, now attired in a t-shirt, diaper, and tennis shoes, ran around the side of the car, and I heard him begin to cry again. I ran to him only to find his right knee now matching the left–scraped and bloody. I gathered him up onto my hip next to the now-awake and crying infant.
The estimator asked for my e-mail to send the rest of the paperwork to. I recited it to him, repeating it several times over the noise of both crying children attached to me.
I could only hope that the spectacle he was witnessing would evoke in him a bit of pity, leading to a nice settlement for the damage on our car.
After he left and I managed to get all three boys back inside, my sweet boy with his bloodied knees went into hysterics. First because I placed a band-aid on his scrape, which he adamantly began yelling at and trying to remove. And secondly because, as it ends up, he thought we were going somewhere in the car. And now that he realized his presumption was misplaced, he was quite upset at the prospect of staying home.
Taking in his bloodied knees and broken spirit, I made a rash decision. “Let’s go to the train station!” I exclaimed it before I could think twice, or realize that it was already time for naps. He choked back a sob and reached for his shorts.
The word had been spoken and there was no turning back now. Over the next five minutes and with the baby wailing all the while, I got us all dressed (for the most part), packed our bag, and we all headed out the door…just as the rain started. Drops pelted down on me as I loaded the boys into their carseats, and then we were off.
I made a detour toward the coffee shop, where upon pulling up to the drive-thru I realized I had left my wallet at home. The boys already had their hearts set on scones, and I needed that coffee—five minutes ago. So I reversed out of the drive thru and turned back towards home to fetch my wallet. My two-year-old frantically yelling from the backseat, “Blueberry scone, Mama?!?!? Blueberry scone?!”
Ten minutes later as we pulled back into the drive-thru and up to the window, our regular barista smiled at me and asked how my day was going. All I could offer was a crazed look and a sarcastic thumbs up while the baby screamed from the backseat.
That morning as the vehicle estimator had handed me his card, wailing infant at my chest and crying and bloody toddler at my feet, I had half jokingly remarked to him that, “Oh it’s always this crazy”. He laughed a little before replying, “I thought my day was crazy. I wouldn’t trade it for your kind of crazy!”
And that’s where he was sorely mistaken.
Because what he didn’t see was the half hour before he arrived, with my newborn babe nestled in my lap, and two sweet boys huddled at my side as we all read stories together. And he didn’t see that morning when my two-year-old ran to me from his room upon waking up. He climbed into my lap next to his baby brother, and with a sweet voice whispered, “Good morning, Baby Way-Wind”, and then gave him four soft kisses on the top of his head.
And he didn’t see that afternoon, when once we resurfaced from beneath the chaos and we all walked hand-in-hand into the train station. Or as the boys ran and jumped and eagerly showed me their favorite model trains.
He only saw the frazzled lady with unkept hair and a screaming baby strapped to her. He only saw the spit up and blood and tears.
He happened to walk into a moment of chaos and became a witness to my kind of crazy. And the truth is that with three boys ages four and under—we tend to have a lot of those moments of chaos around here. But it is also true that, although the man said he wouldn’t trade his kind of crazy for mine, I wouldn’t ever give him the chance, because I’m clinging tight to my crazy and never letting go.
Because my kind of crazy? It is an essential piece of this great love story of mine.