You won’t find a mermaid in this lagoon.

Life with many children is filled with wonderful moments. It is also filled with difficult ones. The problem is, you never know which moment you will get.

Quick as a wink, my day can fall completely to pieces. I can be swimming along peacefully, backstroking through a thick fog of tranquility, and the very next instant all hell can break loose. I’m not sure why that happens so swiftly, but I do know this: it catches me off guard every single time.

Take yesterday for example.

Mr. Diaz loaded up our giant van and hauled our oldest children down to the car wash. He didn’t do this because he’s a super awesome dad who wants to spend a few extra moments with our dear offspring. Nor did he do this because our children like sitting in an enclosed space while giant soapy brushes slap and lick the sides of a vehicle that’s roughly the size of a barge.

Nah.

He took them to the car wash because he needed bodies to hold towels over the windows in the back of the van where there are leaks. I can’t blame him for this. What did we have children for anyway if not to do mundane, Red-nex-ican tasks like that one?

Meanwhile, I was back in my kitchen loading the dishwasher and the other five children were occupied and quiet.  Every parent knows “Occupied and Quiet” is a summons for disaster. Sure enough, Squidgy baby began to cry, flailing and wailing while flopping in the jump-a-roo.

Suddenly, a scream pierced the stillness and I immediately knew it was my 2 year old, Chatterbox Toddler. I scurried down the hallway to the playroom and he ran up to my legs and clutched them as tightly as a modish purse snatcher holds onto a Kate Spade.

“Owwww,” he sobbed through his big tears, “Head owwwwwy,” 

Chatterbox Toddler was wet. He had a blossoming red welt where he had conked his noggin. He held onto me and screeched his dysphoria -a cacophony now mixed with the sounds of a wailing baby back in the living room.

I noticed my wood floors were wet too, as if a preschooler spilled a gallon of water and attempted to mop it up by using the least absorbent material on the planet, which in this case was an old baby quilt. Instead of the spill being soaked up, it spread the liquid from one side of the floor clear to the other.

A slight movement from the back of the room caught my eye.

Our resident preschooler, Humdinger, stood there stark naked and frozen in place; one leg lifted up in the air and ready to go into a pair of underwear. He had been quickly trying to change into dry clothes. It didn’t take long to figure out what had happened. Humdinger had masterfully created his very own ‘Slip-n-Slide’. From his pee. And his brother had involuntarily taken the first ride.

I can’t really say what coursed through my mind in the next few moments.

I bear vague memories of solemn, sincere prayers to Jesus Christ and perhaps the thoughts of mild profanity. Three kids were vociferously bawling; the very angry baby back in the living room, the naked preschooler holding one leg up through a pair of faded Batman underpants (who then did a perfect swan dive into a naked flop-tantrum across the cold floor). And, of course, the still-screaming toddler who had just been the first contestant on his brother’s low budget version of “Wipe Out.”

The real tragedy for the toddler was not the loss of dignity after a brief glide in his brother’s tinkle. No. What really upset him was the tragic loss of a beloved banana he had mashed into the floor with his legs as he fell.

Moving quickly, I abandoned the semi-creamed banana, left it bobbing in Urine Lagoon and hauled the toddler up to the bath for a quick rinse.

As is normal in my house, a tranquil afternoon had unraveled in a matter of moments.

A protesting Humdinger was forced against his will to get fully dressed in clean, dry clothing. The baby was forced against her will to wait out her bounteous troubles inside a jumpy manufactured to look like an absurd rain-forest. The toddler was forced against his will to abandon his favorite fruit. And I was rudely forced against my will to get down on tired hands and knees and mop the entire floor before other children ran into the room exclaiming “Hey! A free banana! That looks delicious!”  

45 minutes later, the baby was wiped, changed and dozing peacefully. The preschooler was occupied with a giant floor puzzle that still magically retained all the pieces, and the toddler had been awarded the consolation prize of a few crackers to snack on. With the crisis handled, the chaos of the afternoon slowly faded back down into a lull.

Mr. Diaz returned shortly with several children, wet towels, and a sparkling clean van that had been washed on the inside as well as the outside.

A kid, who heard the van pull up, sprinted into the house from the backyard where he’d been playing. He kicked off his muddy boots, threw down his dirty coat and peed right there on the floor.

It shouldn’t be surprising.

Around here, windows aren’t the only things that leak.

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Dear glamorous department store e-mailers, I don’t want your “LIMITED TIME OFFER!”

Today’s marketing email came from Nordstrom. Apparently I’m on a list of people they believe would like to buy a $200 handbag the size of a small envelope. This “bag” is designed to only hold my lip gloss, my phone, a debit card and my ID. “Perfect for a night on the town” the ad promised.

They know me so well.

I frequently get out for a night “on the town.” In fact, I often don my high heels, my little black dress and my fancy envelope-sized purse, whose cost could rival the commerce of a small nation. I go to expensive, swanky restaurants with soft music and dim lighting and sip martinis with olives while my lipgloss sparkles in the candlelight. How did they know?

After dark, I waltz through the city streets and laugh with girlfriends as we traipse across the square in faux fur capes and sit in elegant lounges where jazz bands wail out the blues.

Or, those could all be outright lies.

In all honesty, I haven’t left the house with anything smaller than a large suitcase since my first child was born. And, I remain doubtful that tall leather heels would look good with my denim jumpers and bird-house-patterned blouses. (That’s a little homeschool humor for you.)

I’ve tried to unsubscribe from all the upscale department store email campaigns, but for some reason they keep finding me.

They have the wrong girl.

I need to be getting emails from marketers selling blocks of time called “Silence in a lovely, dark room” or “Dark chocolate buffet and a spa tub.”  “A Clean kitchen and nobody else is home.” Where are those emails?

Dear glamorous, sophisticated department store e-mailers,
I’m a mom. And unless your “bag” can hold 32 library books, size 4 diapers, a glue gun, a pair of pliers, underpants and a peanut butter sandwich, I don’t want it. So, a quick word of advice: If you intend to advertise to moms, you ought to consider selling “8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.”  That’s where your money is, folks.  As moms, we need a night of sleep far more than a night on the town.

Stick that idea in your handbag and think it over.