Recently my sons and I waited patiently in a restaurant. Let me clarify. Patiently = the boys made pyramids with creamers on their heads, had sword fights with knives and said at least 39 times,“Mom, I’m starrrrrving.”
“Mom, I’m dying here."
“Mom, totally parched... need wa - t e r..."
Servers buzzed by. Didn’t notice the wielding knives, incredible cranium creamer buildings or the “hi-yaaa” karate-chop sound effects. Eventually patience turned to impatience. My oldest wrote S.O.S. on his placemat, made a paper airplane, and launched it toward the sky. My youngest fake stabbed himself, fell to the floor and proclaimed, "There...is...another...Sky...walk...er."
Moms don’t wait for midnight or a full moon. If a child is in pain or need, any time, any place, the transformation is immediate. The jaw clenches. The eyes squint. The chin juts. The lips part to show a fierce bite. Adrenaline rushes and suddenly, our claws emerge. A mom on a mission. Warning to the world: get the hell out of the way.
Before I became a mother, I didn’t think I was mom material. I never felt that maternal instinct. I never babysat. I never asked to hold anyone’s newborn. And I was clever at concocting excuses to avoid baby showers. “Nope, sorry. It’s my semi-annual furnace filter changing day. Big stuff...crucial. Must make sure the bun in my own oven is in tip top shape.”
Yet ten minutes after giving birth to my first son, my maternal instinct kicked in when a nurse’s aide casually mentioned that my newborn (surely the world's most perfect newborn, ever) had a bit of a cone head. My eyes squinted, my jaw clenched, and I growled in a low, slow voice, “Take your gum-chewing-Rosanne-Barr-sized-ass outta here.”
Take that, bitch.
Don’t dis my kid.
Dang! Mom material. Check it!
Our waitress eventually arrived, apologized for the delay, and took our orders. While we waited for dinner, I explained that as a mom, I’d done some crazy things to protect them.
When my oldest was three, I was seven months pregnant. We attended a 4th of July picnic and it was hot, sweat-soaked-waistband hot. Massively pregnant and swollen, my hot pink Lilly Pulitzer maternity dress already stuck to my thighs, back, and butt.
My son zeroed in on the bounce house. The kid manning the inflatable looked about 15, tops, and totally stoned; but I handed him my dollar and watched my happy little boy crawl in and get his bearings.
A minute later, Cheech's friends showed up, shared a bag of Doritos, passed around a 2 liter bottle of Mountain Dew, and then unbelievably, Cheech let his buddies in the bounce house with my baby.
Claws out, Cheech. Look out.
“Seriously? You're letting those big kids in there with my 3 year-old?” I asked.
“Lady, um, like, read the sign. Yo, totally bounce at, like, your own risk,” he said, and I swear smoke came out his nose as he said it.
“Yeah, sure I get it. But you have some discretion, don’t you?” I asked.
“Dis-what?” he mumbled and turned away to watch his buddies in the bounce house.
Inside, I could see my son, crying and stuck on his stomach, as the big kids jumped and laughed around him, completely oblivious to my child's fear and the fact his mother was about to lose her sh*t.
Unable to stand it one more minute, I decided I was going in. Flip flops flung, I gracefully hopped up... Well, not exactly. My belly and I missed the first time and boomeranged off to the right. But the second time, jaw clenched, claws at the ready, this Mama Bear could not be stopped. I launched my pregnant ass into that bounce house. My dress flew above my waist and exposed my maternity underpants to the world; but I was a mom on a mission: a my-kid-needs-me-I’ll-go-ape-sh*t-on-you-if-you-get-in-my-way mission.
Likely looking quite rabid, with wild eyes, dripping sweat from the sides of my mouth, and unruly hair, I maneuvered on all fours to rescue my young from Stonerville. Hyper-focused on my target, I tuned out the laughing teens and had no clue a crowd had gathered. Still down on all fours, my son crawled onto my back and put his arms around my neck. I inched backward to the door, weaving through the teens. Finally my pink “Yeah, Baby!” panties poked through the net doorway, and the crowd erupted in laughter.
I didn’t mind the snickers at my sizeable underpants. They were still clean and my kid was safe. Everyone else could go to hell. My adrenaline still rushing, I inhaled a Diet Coke, yet resisted the urge to smash the can against the side of my head, burp, and growl, “Hey, BINGO tent, what’re you lookin’ at? You want some of this? What’re you looking at polka band? That’s right, polka band, I'm watching you. You, too, scary cotton candy man. Don’t mess with my kid. I’ve got big underpants and I’m not afraid to use 'em.”