It sounded like a pleasant idea, a trip to the Morton Arboretum. A morning storm passed through town as we loaded the kids into the car. Our resident meteorologist, 6-year-old Raymond, informed us the rain would be passing soon, so we decided to live on the edge and take a hike amid the beauty of Midwest fall colors.
Peter and I love the arboretum and driving through the picturesque and winding road to our destination, we smiled in happy anticipation of our hike. Wrapping 10-month-old Gertrude onto my body, I was thankful to have brought the baby wrap and not the Baby Bjorn, as the organic embrace of my roly-poly baby around my body proved to be so much more naturally comfortable.
Our crew descended on the trail and as the sun peeked out from gray clouds, I readied myself for the joy of nature. The children skipped happily along and Peter, walking by my side, looked nothing short of a supportive presence of husbandly magnificence.
“I have to go to the bathroom,” 4-year-old Anne announced 20 feet into our hike.
“Seriously? You just went to the bathroom before we left the house!” Peter exclaimed.
I could feel our mood as a group start to stagger and like Mother Earth gathering her innocent woodland fairies together, I calmly responded,
“I am sure there is a bathroom up ahead, Anne. Let’s keep walking together.” I lovingly clutched my daughter’s hand as she gazed into my eyes, trusting I knew exactly where the bathroom lie.
Fifteen minutes and one rather large uphill later, there was still no bathroom. The spirit of Mother Earth was slipping away as fast as my jeans were slipping down my hips due to the weight of baby Gertrude’s pudgy body.
Step after step, my jeans sagged down, down, dragging my underwear down with it. Of course, it was laundry day so the skivvies I was sporting were “back of the drawer” undies. You know... Unmentionables best suited for tight tooshes NOT hiking in the forest?
“Please, mama, I have to go to the bathroom,” Anne pleaded.
I picked up the pace and noticed in a momentary obsession with my underpants, which were slowly becoming a crude covering for my butt dimples and stretch marks, little Anne had been “holding it” for quite some time.
As we approached yet another uphill, I observed Peter had placed Raymond on his shoulders and screamed, very out of character for Mother Earth,
“Peter, put Raymond down! You just threw out your back a few days ago!!”
Peter ignored me and instead exclaimed, “There’s the bathroom!” at the top of the hill I was climbing. Still tucked in the wrap, baby Gertrude wrestled with herself in her tight blue straight jacket.
Finally we had reached the outhouses!
With everyone sufficiently “empty” and my underwear back in its natural position, I took a deep breath and started our hike over in my mind. We decided to take a longer route back the car, and as I repositioned Gertrude in her wrap, I cursed myself for not starting to work out when I had been fed up with my weight months earlier.
Twenty minutes later my underwear was droopier than ever and the gentle mist that surrounded us had turned into a slow drizzle. Raymond and Anne dragged large sticks behind them and occasionally and “accidentally” hit each other in the back of the head.
The survival show, “I Shouldn’t Be Alive” flashed through my mind as I searched for the silhouette of our minivan and found nothing. Baby Gertrude, having escaped from her binding smacked my face with her soft hands, playing with the eye liner that was now oozing down my eye wrinkles.
Realizing how fat and out of shape I still was after the birth of baby Gertrude, I held onto my own back for support and trucked up the never-ending hill as my underwear crept farther down my butt.
At long last, we reached our car and as we buckled our seat belts, I wiped the rain drops off my glasses and said to Peter,
“You realize we just paid $42 to use an outhouse.”