I grab the clothes from the overflowing laundry basket sitting on my bedroom floor. A clean pair of grey capri yoga pants and a grey t-shirt. I quickly dress and head downstairs.
The kids are sick. I sent the girl to Japanese class with a box of tissues yesterday, but today I decided to keep her home. Her nose keeps running and she is tired. The boy, who was out of sorts yesterday morning after a night of coughing and snuffling, woke up from his afternoon nap with a fever. He spent an hour and a half just laying on my chest. Any attempts to put him down were met with cries of resistance.
I managed to head them out the door this morning. Despite the sickness that still lingers they had too much energy to stay at home. And I needed to be out. I decided to take them to a new to them park. Not too far away from our house, but far away enough that we never visit it. Not when our park is so close.
But first I need coffee. I buy an iced coffee for myself and a pumpkin scone that the kids manage to share without fighting. Back into the stroller they go and we start off.
We walk for half a block, and then in my attempt to multitask by both pushing the stroller and sipping my coffee, the coffee spills. Drops of brown splatter down the front of my t-shirt like a trail of the boy's tears. A large blob of liquid hits the bottom of my pants.
I curse silently before fruitlessly attempting to wipe the stains away. I moan and grumble as I set back on my path to the park. Why can I never look like the other women I see walking past me, I think. They are clean and groomed. I never am, despite my best attempts.
Then it hits me. I am marked. Like cattle branded by their owner, so too am I am marked by my children. The boy's snot puddles on the shoulder of my dress from when he rested his head on me. Flour settles into the cotton of my pants from when I bake with the girl. Sand fills my shoes and works it's way under my toe nails from when I sit in the sand and build castles with the kids. And coffee spills down my clean shirt and pants when I am out walking with the kids.
I am marked.