Whole Foods is My Favorite Place to Cry and My Baby’s Obsession with Dirt Down His Pants

~~~By Sarah Lolley

Summer started with a fit of anxiety as I became a single mother of two boys when my husband flew the coop for Romania with our oldest, Lyra 4-years-old. In the weeks leading up to the departure I had given into my daughter’s Hello Kitty obsession and bought her matching travel gear. I also bought her a wearable-GPS tracker. It made her look like she was on house arrest. To say I was worried would be an understatement.

So when I stopped by Whole Foods after dropping them off at the airport I lost it in the produce section, crying my eyes out over the raspberries that Lyra loves. I caught a man looking at me with a therapist stare and I gained composure. After all, he probably was a therapist.

At the salad bar across from the bakery, a tall dark man nearly dropped his lunch when he saw me.

“Sarah? Sarah Lolley! What happened to you? You were supposed to be in LA or NY?” exclaimed Mr. Aquavellva.

“I got knocked up and live in Highland Park with three kids now.” I stammered. He examined my disheveled appearances with a look of disbelief.055

“I know you Sarah. You need to be true to yourself, be real.” He said in a cadence.

“I’m not real? Wait, I got it together, just not today, really.” I replied, wondering if the ex-rocker chick inside me was the real me.

“Call me, let’s do lunch. But seriously, be true to yourself.” He said getting in the Express Line. My cart was filled with diapers, three different kinds of milk, hot dogs, and well over the 10 item limit so trudged to the back of the longest line.

Stunned and frazzled to my split ends I went home to my house of boys, whom needed my dad and friends to watch them for the couple hours I was out. Yes, dear readers it takes a legion of people to keep track of my kids… they scatter. That evening the boys pooped in the Jacuzzi tub and when I took them out to get in the shower Luca slipped and hit his head on the marble. I flipped him around and held him to me when I noticed my hand was warm and bright red. He had gashed his head open and looked like a Zombie bit him.

006Freaking out I start screaming for my dad, a retired surgeon. My dad, cool as beans, asked for peroxide and panty hose. He cleaned his womb and wrapped his head in a turban. Meanwhile I am pacing around getting ready to go to Children’s Hospital. Luca was calmed with a bottle and I stayed up with him. We all survived. Patrick and Lyra made it to Romania.

Becoming a single mom had an earth-moving quality, because I was alone in dealing with disaster and chaos. When my 18-month-old Lazar barreled through the house picking out items from the garbage to eat, or licking the windows from top to bottom, or escaping out the front door to dump my potted plants down his pants, or biting his brother and mother, I was reminded that if Lazar had been my first child, he would have been an only child. Luca clung to me like I was an island in the sea, insisting that I carry him everywhere. The longer Patrick was away the more I felt grounded, like nailed to the dirt kind of grounded, like I can’t leave the house without fear of losing Lazar or breaking my back.

Did I miss my husband because all of sudden I had no one to share the weight or the strength it takes to function, or did I miss him because I needed someone to talk to that didn’t wipe their nose with my shirt and need a butt bath twice a day?144

Little Lyra needed to Skype nearly all day long for three days. However, she found her confidence. It was a funny experience to see my daughter against the backdrop of my in-laws gigantic sketch of Jesus’ tortured face where their computer is perched. Usually they sit stoic and solemn barely smiling. Now there was a giggling little blond girl that appeared in the same frame. She looked out of place, seeming to have been teleported to a strange land of structure and discipline.

Meanwhile back in dysfunctional-ville mama never slept, waking up to patrol the house with whatever defense weapon I could find, like a toy shopping cart or plastic bath tub boat. I turned into a cave woman flinching at crickets or staring down the mailman coming in the yard. With Patrick gone I was free to be my paranoid mama self. No European could stop my unwarranted American-mama anxiety. Everyone was going to survive until Patrick finally did come home and then I could go back to blaming him when our kid crossed the street without an adult or buried his sneakers to see if he could grow shoes. Because one of the worst things about being a single parent is you are the only one to blame if you intermittently scar your kids for life by locking the front door on a sunny day or making them sit on the potty until they pooped. Nope, I totally need someone to share the blame of not practicing what you preach when you sneak chocolate pretzels and later discover that your child wasn’t sucking on a brown marker.

343Mr. Aquavellva was right in that I had changed. Before kids I was spontaneous and adventurous, curious as a way of life. I walked down dark alleys by myself in NY and got past all manner of concert security guards! Now being ‘true to myself’ meant letting my inner sexually-frustrated-nun-librarian persona pace the mind that use to think about what kind of martini to order.

So when my husband returned it was all his fault that he left.  And it was all his entire fault that I clung to him like he was the last palm tree in a world of water. Did I mention we are drowning in children?

Be real.



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