MacGyver Mom

I hardly talk about my mom life, but today will be an exception. I really messed up over Thanksgiving break. Big time. J and I flew to Colorado for the week and we got dropped off at the airport about 90 minutes before our flight. I had spent weeks planning – making my usual packing spreadsheet for myself AND a separate one for J. Then I meticulously packed my checked bag (weighing in at a paltry 37 pounds, which I thought was fantastic). Then I checked each list again to make sure I did not miss anything important. Then I carefully packed my hand luggage. The big item for the overhead bin had my toiletries in it and stuff I knew I would not be able to get out even if I wanted it. The personal item for under the seat in front of me had all the J-care items: snacks, activities, toys, iPhone, charger, and diaper changing pad… right? Wrong.

It had all of those items EXCEPT the diaper changing pad.

This did not even occur to me until after:

  1. checking in at the counter
  2. dropping off my checked bag
  3. walking to security
  4. folding the stroller
  5. somehow making it through security (thank you TSA pre-check… this program is well worth the loss of your civil liberties, I highly recommend it for the speed and ease)
  6. unfolding the stroller and getting J settled
  7. Watching TSA test all of his food to make sure that it is safe to fly
  8. letting TSA test my hands for gun shot residue or explosives or whatever the hell they are testing for because I am brown
  9. filling up my water bottle
  10. finding our way to the furthest gate ever (which it always has been since having a baby)
  11. getting a gate check ticket for the stroller
  12. setting all my crap down, and
  13. letting J run all over the gate area like a crazy person

As we were playing a game of peek-a-boo around a pole that could only measure three inches wide, I realized it:

“something smells like shit.”

Oh, it’s just J. Let’s change him before we get on the plane. Unzip the backpack.


There is nothing. I begin to feel the warm sting of perspiration on my forehead and in my armpits. How could I have forgotten the MOST important J-care items??? I left the changing pad in the trunk of the car. We are standing there in the crowded gate area while the gate agent makes repeated announcements for volunteers to check their bags because this is a completely full flight. I realize that I am so screwed. And like in the old school game Minesweeper, so are the nine fools seated in the square around me, because it does not take a truffle pig to pick up on this scent.

I choose to early board because not only do I have a “shitty” toddler to wrangle, but I have to fold the stroller, jam it in the travel bag and leave it for the gate folk to take while I pray that J does not slip through the crack between the plane and jet bridge and fall to his death. And by the way, no one ever helps you with this. They watch you struggle in exasperation, sighing and cussing (not really even under your breath anymore in direct earshot of your kid and everyone else) and when you are one step from done, they say, “do you need a hand?” Yes. I did. But I am the pinnacle of grace under fire, so with sweat stains on me and shit stains on him, we’ve got this. Or some millennial douche will opine loudly that this is the reason why they do not have kids – that adulting is so hard. Well thanks for your worthless opinion. I hope you forget that you are on antibiotics one day and that your birth control fails you and that oopsie! Planned Parenthood was defunded because you abstained from voting because you did not really like either candidate and… I’m gonna let that rant go.

So here I am, fireman carrying a boy who smells like rotting KFC from the backside, saying hello to the nice flight attendants, walking back to row 39. Which how do we have this many rows on a domestic flight, is this a 777? And we sit. And J is a lap infant. So he is sitting in his own shit, mashing down on it. The only barrier between me and the loaded diaper is the thin blue line of his cute skinny jeans and my cute skinny jeans. I turn that microscopic vent up to high. Crank that smell out of there if we can. It does nothing. I think, ok, let’s take off, make it to 10,000 feet and then I can get to the bathroom and troubleshoot.

Considering the guilt and shame and sadness I feel for what I’m putting J through, I let him watch the same Wheels on the Bus video 800,000 times on repeat. It is the least I can do. Hopefully he will remember NONE of this when he grows up. Or just the part where Mommy finally gave him what he wanted for four hours in a row without ever using the word no.

10,000 feet finally arrives with a ding and J and I spring out of our seat and straight to the bathroom. Because if you are going to violate an airplane bathroom, you want to be first. Then everyone else after you can know that you won. I get in there and J – four months too young to need his own seat – is too big for the changing table. His head is on and his feet are at a 90 degree angle going straight up in to the air. I start peeling off layers and find that this is one of those big, wet poops that had filled the entire diaper. And there are visible pieces of some prior meal stuck in the mesh. My original plan was to try and scoop out the poop and use the diaper again (I know this is gross, but if it was a dry one, this could have been an option). This is not an option. I actually get tears in my eyes now. J is already crying. He doesn’t understand why he had to be folded in half to have his butt examined.






And then I see it – the old school sanitary napkin. Thank God. The diaper that I never wanted to wear when it was my time of the month was going to be my savior. I cleaned up J with as many moist hand towels as I could.  This made me want to die all over again. I filled an entire barf bag with J poop paraphernalia and then developed my genius plan: I stuck the pad inside J’s onesie.  Since it’s made for a grown woman, it went from his bellybutton to the middle of his back. I pulled his jeans back on and said a prayer: “please God, let the next change be pee only.”

And when we were about to start our descent, I went to change J’s pad again. Just pee. Thank God. So I gave him a new pad and said a new prayer: “please God, let us make it to the bag claim and let my bag be there so I can get this little boy out of women’s menstrual gear and back into a diaper. And please still let the next change be pee only.” God heard this prayer and answered it too.


how you feel when your mom makes you wear a pad

I want to be proud of making something work on the fly, but more than anything, I am ashamed that I forgot his changing pad. But to think that I packed 37 pounds of stuff, plus two pieces of hand luggage plus a stroller plus a tiny human and that I only forgot one thing… it is not that bad. Granted, it was the most important thing, but just one thing. That’s pretty good. So I’m going to try not to beat myself up about it anymore. It happened. And after I got him in a diaper, it is worth laughing about.

Shit happens. It literally happens. And I would rather laugh about it than cry about it. Because I am tired of shit and I am tired of crying and I am tired of beating myself up for not being perfect. I am perfect for J. That is just enough.


MacGyver Mom survival kit (changing pad not included)

One thought on “MacGyver Mom

  1. God bless your heart! I’ve flown with my J twice now and thankfully remembered the diapers. But, good gravy, is it stressful traveling with a child!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s