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Spare clothes

Jennifer MeerThere are at least two if not many more universal truths known to all mothers. The first, is that while no child can hear the words “go get dressed” even when shouted directly into their eardrum, they can always hear any mother unwrap any item of food at any decibel and from any distance.

The second and equally important truth is that whoever doesn’t pack some spare clothes in the carry-on is the one who is going to need them.

Any guesses as to who didn’t pack herself a spare shirt?

As we set out on the rental car yesterday to begin our journey home from vacation, I turned to my husband who would not be making the trip back with me and my three kids and said something like, “It’s no problem. Really. I’ve got this.”

At which point God, overhearing this exchange, literally laughed out loud, put on his favorite footy pajamas, poured himself a drink, and I imagine said something like, “Well, this ought to be a good show.”

Was it the two-hour delay that turned into a four-hour delay or the toddler vomiting banana crepe all over me during that delay or the gate that wouldn’t go up in the parking lot to get us to the car that wouldn’t start because the battery was dead? I mean honestly, I’m not sure.

Truthfully, none of that matters now. What I really need to tell you is this:

• Never ever feed your children banana crepes ever and most certainly not when you are traveling.

• Other mothers are amazing. Should you find yourself alone in an airport with three children whilst covered in vomit, mothers will spring into action from all directions. I honestly did not know any of them nor where they came from, hoisting upon me plastic bags and wipes a plenty. I know on the Internet and even in real life we have a tendency to judge one another, but when it counts, we show up. We know full well that we are in this together.

• Our kids are capable of more than we think. We spend most of our days yelling not particularly useful things like, “Pick up your plate and shut off your video games!” and I wonder if they just start to believe they really aren’t capable of much more than that. Until one day you find that they are surprisingly adept and responsive as you yell, “Hose the baby off with your water bottle!” and “Grab those suitcases!” Sometimes I wonder if we’re just overthinking this whole enterprise. Maybe the best and most we can ever do at any one time is just believe in them.

• Lastly, pack yourself some spare clothes. Literally and figuratively. Throw in an extra shirt for yourself on that carry-on. Maybe it will just be a drop of soy sauce. Maybe it will be baby puke. Who knows? It can’t hurt. But more than that, think about what you will need. Practice thinking about and prioritizing your own needs.

Though I forgot some spare clothes yesterday, I was fortunate to remember a book which I read during a brief moment of bliss affectionately known as video game/nap time. It occurred B.B.C. (before banana crepe) and as I sat there, flipping through the pages of an old Erma Bombeck book, I could just picture my mother, buried deep within the pages of Erma’s columns and books on our vacations so long ago. I know now what she knew then: that if you give a child in a pool a mother, someone will suddenly need to pee or puke or eat, and that the mere sight of you will illicit the desire for someone to express their needs. My mother wasn’t reading. She was hiding.

God, that woman was smart.

I loved this line from yesterday’s pages in particular: “I don’t think women outlive men. It only seems longer.”


And if it’s going to feel longer, remember what I told you. Pack yourself some spare clothes, a candy bar that has had the wrapper previously removed and a good book. At the very least, God shouldn’t be the only one to enjoy this show.

— Jennifer Meer

Jennifer Meer writes a personal blog about parenting and family. Her work has been published in several online publications including, BlogHer, The Huffington Post, Kveller, Mamalode, The Manifest-Station, Modern Loss,,, Scary Mommy, The Stir and The Washington Post.


Reflections of Erma