I got cocky. I know I did. Do you ever have this happen? The moments of motherhood where you think, “No prob. I’ve totally got this. This is NBD {no big deal, FYI}.” 

I got cocky. 

Because we’d had a great trip to Target in the morn. And then a lunch meeting with daddy that seemed to be as near to heaven on earth as we could have asked for with a four and two-year-old in tow. They both ate. No one screamed. The kid who asked to poop actually did have to poop. And he did so in the toilet. And then, we survived haircuts. Even after the Littlest began his with kicking, screaming, and flailing as if that Jason guy was coming at him with a chainsaw. 

It was a beautiful day, too. I think that added to the delusions of grandeur that led me to believe that taking my two and four-year-old boys into quickly peruse a boutique was a good idea. 

I’ve been in search of cowgirl boots. The kind that are more fashionable than practical. And so, as we left the haircutting destination, I said to my two sweet angel cherubs, “Let’s just run down to this store. Mom wants to see if they have any cowgirl boots.” And they were cool with it. Hopping along the sidewalk, giggling, suckers in hand. It was almost a magical moment with the sun shining and the children so full of glee. I am so good at motherhood right now it’s not even funny, I’m sure I told myself. 

But then, as we pushed the doors opened, I knew immediately from a mild eyebrow raise – one of those that young girls don’t know that we mothers see – that we’d been marked. I felt like the Bat Signal was lit into the sky to alert the other associates to Gird your Loins! Mom of two young boys… both carrying sticky objects… has entered the premises. 

I did as we women do, walking around the store, stretching the clothes out to see if I liked how they looked and if I thought I could make the romper work without it being Camel Toe Central. Filing through the racks to see if there was anything that I understood how to wear. The boys trotted behind me, mostly being lovely. And I was in hog heaven. I picked up a few items. And then I noticed them, skipping around the mannequin.

Nooooo… GUYS! 

I urged them away from the plaster-gals and felt fairly good about avoiding what could have been a very bad situation. I mean, no one wants to be that person who knocks down a mannequin, amiright?

We walked the whole store and ended on the opposite front window. Flanked with perfectly ensembled mannequins, once again. I turned to look at a dress and out of the corner of my eye, and then I saw it starting. NO-O-O-O-O – I said as if I was one of those people in a movie running and screaming in slow motion with my arms circling as if independent from my person.

I had to get her before she fell. I prayed for just a moment that she’d turn into Kim Cattrall on the way down and come to life instead of shattering to smithereens. But no. There. Went. The. Mannequin. And then. Like dominoes. The next. And then the next. There were arms flying off. Heads rolling. Purses and necklaces strewn about. Dropping to the floor… left and right. One associate watched as it went down and ran the other way while another came to, I thought, rescue me. But instead, she seemed to be piercing my children with red beams shooting from her eyes. I grabbed the clothes I’d had in my hand. And grabbed an arm to hand her. I picked up a purse. And plopped the Littlest on my hip. As we got the first mannequin set back up, she started to twist the other way towards the front window. 

EFFFFFFFFFF! I am F*cked. 

That’s all I could think. Because if that mannequin went through the window, there would be no easy break from this situation. Luckily, I caught her mid-tumble and the associates got her set back up.

Suddenly, I knew what I had to do. Like being invited to a best friend’s Pampered Chef party, I just. needed. to buy. SOMETHING. That would make them like me. That would make this situation all patched up.

So I scooped up the Littlest and was followed by the Middlest to retreat to the dressing room. First shirt was a definite no. Second maybe. I decided to forgo trying on jeans with the Littles there and instead went straight to the dress. Cute, I thought. Maybe. And proceeded to take it off. Scratch that. Proceeded to attempt to take it off. The boys, banging on the mirrors and laughing at one another, had no clue that behind them, it looked like mommy was in a pig wrestling contest. The dress cleared the hips easily. But then. Foobs {my new fake boobs.}. Wait. I have boobs now. Shit.

I tugged up and it was stuck. I tried to wiggle. No luck. I attempted to move my arms in a different way but without my full range of motion in my recently operated-on right arm, I was starting to feel a little sweat on my brow. I pulled the dress down. And had another row at it. I pushed my shoulder blades together but that only made the Foobs stick out further. I could get it a little over the Foob that recently had a cup size taken out of it for radiation. But it wouldn’t budge over the full C-cup Foob. It literally felt as if it might rip apart at the seams. I pulled it down again. The boys continued to be in their own world. And I continued to be in the Mommy is royally screwed Land where I sat down and filed through my options. 

First option: Do I have a Swiss Army Knife? No. So cutting myself out, not an option.

Second option: Is there an escape tile in the ceiling. No. Damn.

Third option: Do I have a can of Crisco in my Monkey BackpackNo. So greasing myself out like a sausage out of casing was also not gonna happen.

So, I did what anyone in my position would do. Swore profusely to my inner self while looking at my children with a smile on my face. Like a dog with my tail between my legs, I left the boys to the mirrors and summoned a store clerk to assist. 

“I can’t seem to get this dress off.”

“Oh,” the girl replied — surely thinking, you suck at life.

“I might need some help.”

So back we went. Into the dressing room. And she and I attempted to work together to get the dress over my funbags. “Did you just get the wrong size?” she inquired. “I didn’t know what size I should get.” I replied, starting to sweat like a lady of the evening in church. The last thing I wanted to tell this 20 something about was my breast cancer journey. I just wanted to get OUT OF THE DRESS and get the heck outta Dodge. All I could think in my head was EFF EFF EFFITY EFF EFF. Seriously. She was going to have to cut me out of this dress. 

She called in a second helper. They lifted it once. It didn’t budge. I inhaled and let out a huge sigh attempting to pull my plump and perkies into me as much as possible. They were only making eye contact with one another, I could tell, as I felt like I was trapped in a Dutch Oven with the dress pulled up right over my face. And after some tugging and fanangaling, they managed to Free Willy. I mean, that’s what it felt like. They made me feel like I was a whale that had been beached and just needed to be put back in the ocean where I belonged. All while I’m certain, my children were busy licking their reflections in the mirror. And of course, once they got the dress off, I realized I have one euro-pit – an armpit that I am disallowed from shaving due to radiation. I have no bra on, but a wife beater instead. Because I can’t wear under-wire. And so much shine going on from the Aquaphor I have to apply twice a day that I look like a lifeguard circa summer of 1996. Oh and little radiation target stickers randomly stuck about my torso. If ever there was a time where I looked like Slim Shady, this was definitely it. What was I thinking walking through the doors of this boutique?!

They rehung the dress and evacuated the dance floor, ASAP. I quickly pulled my “House of Boys” t-shirt back on. Picked up the Littlest and bolted outta the room. And with one last glance in the mirror, realized I was one pookah shell necklace and a striped shirt away from looking like a frat boy circa 2003. At this point, I couldn’t possibly purchase anything. Then they’d have my name on file. And that just wasn’t an option in my book. Then they’d know who this Justin Bieber impersonator-mommy was. And I’d be blackballed. 

Screw it, I decided. They want us gone as much as I want to be gone.

So. Instead, wearing a toddler-sized monkey backpack and my two year old’s sunnies {because he hid mine so I was wearing his dollar spot find}, I rolled straight outta Compton, making no eye contact with anyone except the reassembled and fully-limbed mannequins. And chided constantly to the boys, “Touch anything and die.” Somewhat under my breath. Somewhat loud enough so the people working there would assume I at least gave a little damn. I wanted to shout, “The Hot Mess Express is leaving the station” before my departure but opted for a more understated entrance so as not to draw even further attention to my gaggle.

It was still a sunny day. I was sweating like a beast. I resolved in my mind to buy both a can of Crisco and a Swiss Army Knife to carry in the MonkeyPack for future MacGyver-requiring situations. And I also determined I need to figure out what size of boobs I currently am wearing on my person so as to avoid future need for personal assistance in the dressing room.

And. I reminded myself that while I am a mother to three under seven I am not Wonder Woman. So the next time I think I have this day nailed, I need to take a moment to bring myself back to reality. Stop being cocky. And do any future shopping on-line. 

Ashli Brehm

Ashli Brehm = Thirtysomething. Nebraska gal. Life blogger. Husker fan. Creative writer. Phi Mu sister. Breast cancer survivor. Boymom. Premie carrier. Happy wife. Gilmore Girls fanatic. Amos Lee listener. Coffee & La Croix drinker. Sarcasm user. Jesus follower. Slipper wearer. Funlover. Candle smeller. Yoga doer. Pinterest failer. Anne Lamott reader. Tribe member. Goodness believer. Life enthusiast. Follow me at http://babyonthebrehm.com/