Here is something that most likely won’t make it into Mom-Dentity™, but a good story none-the-less.
It was a cold December night in 2017 and I was pregnant, which means I am not very nice. Truth. Saint Rene Mary Poppins, Hudson, Harper and Pregnant Me had been talking excitedly about this night for months. Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Broadway edition of The Sound of Music came to Bowling Green, Ky and we got to watch it!
Everyone in town had the flu. My children were just getting over it and the people sitting behind us apparently brought it into the show with them because it sounded like they had just tested positive for strain A. Introducing: the flu mask pre-Pandemic. Pregnant Me wanted to make a statement, and not one of fashion. You know, the other kind that makes you look like a donkey’s rear end because hardly anyone in the US wore flu masks at this time. So there I sit, in a flu mask giving the Sideways Sneer to the people behind us. I already told you I am not nice when pregnant. My kids were tired. They also had to sit on their knees to see the stage. Suffice it to say, the situation was not ideal. It was one of those uncomfortable moments I try to teach my children to rise above, per the usual, it was me needing the lesson. And possibly Harper. But that is yet to come because Lisel and Peter have not gone out in the rain to sing “16 going on 17” yet.
In between coughs and sneezes Hudson wants to sit on my lap. Which immediately makes Harper want to share my lap too. Pregnant Me in a flu mask in an auditorium seat with two children on top made us a spectacle already. Luckily the mask is covering my mouth and the four letter words erupting from it. Even Saint Rene Mary Poppins, who somehow managed to get Harper to happily sit on her lap, just wanted my kids to be quiet and still so she could watch the show. Finally, just before our favorite part, and might I add our last part, we got situated only to begin noticing the Sideways Sneers we were now getting from our neighbors. I smiled, but they couldn’t see it through the flu mask. So I diverted my attention to the stage.
Hudson, only momentarily comfortable, started full-on wallowing on top of Pregnant Me. But, we love 16 going on 17 and Liesel and her pink flowy dress have finally snuck out of her house to meet Peter. Harper is sniveling about something but I just ignore her and go right into blaming Saint Rene Mary Poppins for not being able to contain Harper for one blasted song. Remember, I am pregnant and these are my actual thoughts. Harper’s crying is getting louder and because I’m her mom, I know her tongue is vibrating visibly. When Harper cries, she resembles Homer Simpson when he burps. Her tongue wiggles wildly behind her teeth, doing dance moves that would make Shakira proud.
I grab Harper’s arm, trying not to look at her tongue and tell her to: BE. QUIET behind my mask. This most likely scares her and she simply cannot be silenced. I don’t understand why yet even though Saint Rene Mary Poppins is trying to explain. I shake my head so hard my flu mask nearly falls off and try to pull Harper out of her seat. I’m jerked back by the weight of my four year old who is not able to budge.
Saint Rene Mary Poppins slowly and deliberately explains for the fourth time “Her. Leg. Is. Stuck.”
More tongue dancing and wailing come from row P seat 308, to be exact. Pregnant Me is furious.
The man behind us with the probable case of the flu grabs Harper’s leg and twists it the appropriate way and pulls her out of the chair. If I thought Harper looked like Homer Simpson burping a few minutes ago … nevermind that, I run to the nearest exit with Harper in my arms, crying and dragging Hudson behind. We are safely outside the show and I realize Saint Rene Mary Poppins is still in our row which infuriates me because the time for us to leave was thirty seconds ago. It took her exactly five more minutes to emerge from the darkness, I’m pretty sure I heard someone applaud behind her.
“What were you doing?” I snapped.
Saint Rene Mary Poppins pointed to Harper’s bootless foot. “Looking for her shoe.”
“Oh.” If I could just bend over and kick my own donkey-rear-end. “Did you find it?” I asked Saint Rene Mary Poppins as I looked down at Harper’s snot and tear streamed face, one boot on and only a polka dot sock covering the other foot.
“No.” She replied.
My brain was firing all sorts of thoughts, but mostly how to get my kids happily into the car. I said a prayer and put on my happiest face. I started dancing and singing to all The Sound of Music songs while carrying Harper in 19 degree weather to our car. Once we were strapped in and warm, I put the car in drive and began to laugh hysterically with tears rolling down my cheeks. Saint Rene Mary Poppins joined in and so did the girls and I promised I’d go back and look for Harper’s boot in the morning.
True to my word, I called the Performing Arts Centre and asked if, perhaps, a childrens boot had been found the night before…
“Oh yes in row P, seat 308! It’s here at the front lobby!”
I thanked the lady on the phone and giggled, picturing the man with the flu turning Harper’s shoe into the janitor after pulling her legs through the seat.
That afternoon, I handed Harper her boot and in her very dear usual character, which resembles much less like Homer Simpson burping, she gave it a hug and said “Fank- you Mommy.
Are you still reading? I know this story is long. If we know each other by the masks we wear, what do our actions say about what is behind the mask? I wasn’t portraying love and patience that evening. Quite the opposite.
What if we were only recognized by our actions: Faceless beings with distinction based on acts of kindness or rage, a grateful heart or selfish ambition?
Who are you without your mask?