One for the Locks… I Mean Books

I know I don’t stray from sewing or DIY posts very often, but I thought it would be fun to completely embarrass myself today by sharing a recent experience. Perhaps I’m looking for a little reassurance that I’m not the only one who feels like a large part of their brain has, um, been MIA since having kids.

Surely you’ve heard of “pregnancy brain”, right? The problem with pregnancy brain is that the name implies that it’s just that – pregnancy brain. When I was pregnant with Wyatt, no one told me that pregnancy brain never really goes away. In fact, in my case, it has seemed to compound and get progressively worse with each child.

Do you ever do absent minded things that you know you would have never done before having kids? Read on to feel super smart :).

You see, I recently finally took the plunge back to the gym. I’m always a little nervous taking a baby to childcare at a gym, but now that Lola is getting a bit older, I finally felt comfortable going. And I’ve really enjoyed having an hour or two to myself several times a week.

I had been to the gym several times, and after a great workout one day, returned to the locker room to get my stuff. We had a busy day planned, and I was in a hurry to get the kids out of childcare and move on to our next activity.

I put the combination into my purple master lock, and when I tried to open the lock, it wouldn’t budge. No biggie, I thought, and tried again. No luck. I tried about ten more times, and still no luck. Great, I thought, my lock is broken. Not what I needed when I was in a hurry, and knew that Lola would be getting hungry soon. My keys, my phone, and my wallet were of course all in my locker, so I couldn’t do anything, including leaving the gym, without my bag that was in the locker.

The lockers are only for day-use, so I figured the gym would have a pair of bolt cutters on hand, and luckily I was right. One of the staff members came back with me and gave the combination a try a few times before agreeing that we should cut the lock off.

Fortunately for me, mid morning is the busiest time at the gym, and we had a rotating slew of onlookers offering their own two cents (they were all actually incredibly nice about it). More than several of them asked me, “Are you sure that lock is yours? Are you sure your lock is purple?” Of course I replied that I was sure, as I had used the lock several times in the past week, and remembered putting my things in that exact locker that day.

So out came the bolt cutters, which was quite the spectacle in itself. The staff member (which turned into two staff members) tried and tried, and the lock would not cut. After a good 10 minutes of trying different techniques, angles, and positive thinking, we realized the bolt cutters were in fact bent, which explained why they were making dents in the lock but wouldn’t cut through. They went off to look for another pair, and in Their absence I was determine to get that lock off on my own.

After some strategic twisting, turning, and prying, the lock finally snapped! I let out a huge sigh of relief, congratulated myself for a job well done, and opened the locker to grab my stuff. My jaw dropped as I looked in the locker and saw an unfamiliar makeup bag and other personal items. It wasn’t my stuff! I gasped in disbelief and confusion, as I’m sure my audience did as well. Two problems. 1: I just broke into someones locker, and 2: I still didn’t have my things. At that moment one staff member came back in and I had to tell her what had happened. After apologizing profusely for breaking someone else’s lock open, and assuring her that I’d replace the lock for that person, I checked around the entire locker room for purple locks.

Although I was sure that I had put my things in the lockers closest to the exit, you can imagine that my self-doubt was rising at that point since I had already been wrong once. There were only a couple of other purple locks, and my combination wasn’t working on them. Although I was sure that my lock was purple, I even started trying any lock that even closely resembled mine, in any color. I really didn’t know what else to do. I also looked in every empty locker, thinking maybe I had forgotten to actually put my lock on.

It had been about 45 minutes since the ordeal started, and during this time, the staff members kept mentioning the possibility of theft. While I didn’t want to believe it, I was starting to get worried. They were talking about calling the police, but I was just waiting to that moment of clarity where I could say, “Duh!” and remember where my things were. My truck was still in the parking lot, so I figured that was a good sign :).

I ran into the childcare and let them know what was going on, apologized that I was late getting my kids, and told them I’d be back as soon as I could. As I was on my third round of checking lockers and locks of every color, the staff member returned with the idea to call my cell phone to see if we could hear it ringing. Well an hour had gone by by this time, and I couldn’t believe we hadn’t thought of it until that time.

She called my number, and two other staff members plus me split up in the locker room to listen for it. Nothing. She tried again and we listened again. Nothing. So there we were near the original locker that I so kindly broke into, and I asked her to try calling my cell one more time. I thought I heard a faint ring, and it sounded like it came from the locker just diagonally down from the locker I had opened. We pried that door open what was probably only a couple of millimetres, and listened as she called again.

I definitely heard my ring tone, and heard it coming from that locker. I was SO happy! It even had a purple lock on it, so I was so relieved that the mystery was finally solved. I thought I had already tried opening that lock multiple times already, but I was so flustered by that point that I didn’t trust anything that I thought. More than anything, I was just happy that I found my things and would soon be on my way.

I used my combination on the lock, and guess what? It didn’t open. Hmm. I tried a few more times with the same result. The anxiety was starting to rise again. How ironic, I thought. I had just broken into a locker that wasn’t mine, thinking my lock was broken, and now after finally finding my real lock, it was broken.

I was 100% sure that I heard my phone ringing in that locker, so after convincing the staff of my certainty, out came the bolt cutters again. Unfortunately, I think I did such a number on them the first time, they were working even worse than before. A staff member and I spent about 10 minutes trying to get the lock cut, to no avail. She went off to look for a hammer to try to bust the lock off (the mental image of how that would have looked still makes me giggle), and once again I decided that that lock WAS coming off, and after several minutes of trying different techniques, BAM!

The lock snapped and I literally raised the bolt cutters high in the air and let out a “Yes!” I took a breath of relief and laughed as I said to one of my audience members, “I guess I should look inside and make sure it’s my stuff this time!”

Ready for the awkward meter to be turned up another notch? I removed the cut lock and as I opened the locker, my jaw dropped to what felt like my knees, my hand met my mouth, and I froze with wide eyes.

It. Was. Not. My. Stuff.

Yep, make that not just one, but two lockers that I broke into. I remember saying to the lady that I had just high fived with the bolt cutters, “I’m gonna freak out. I’m gonna freak out. I’m gonna freak out.” It’s really quite funny to think back on now, but not so much at that moment. I made the walk of shame out of the locker room and found the staff member that was searching for the hammer. I don’t really remember what I told her, but I’m pretty sure that I repeated the words, “I’m gonna freak out,” again. And apologized profusely once again for my lack of brain cells. I think I also mentioned something like, “Put it on my tab,” which I’m sure she didn’t see the humor in.

By now all hope was lost for my sanity. I was in shock about what was happening, embarrassed, and confused all at the same time. I knew had heard my phone ringing (or did I?), and what were the chances that Exhibit B’s phone had my same ring tone and happened to ring at the same moment that the staff member called my phone.

With me still refusing to believe my things had been stolen, two staff members helped me go through every empty locker and try every lock that was even somewhat similar to my purple lock again. It had now been almost an hour an a half, and finally they convinced me that I should start calling my credit cards to see if any had been used.

I called Joel to let him know what was going on. I told him to make sure he answered my calls for the next bit, thinking I may need him to bring me our extra key. At the end of our conversation, I mentioned, “The lock was purple, right?”

His response?

“No, it’s green.”

Oh dear.

Well, if I was wrong about not one but two lockers already, why should I have known what color my lock was? Even if it was green, I thought, I had already tried every lock that was similar to mine, in every color.

I hung up with Joel, and headed back to the locker room for one more try. I figured it was useless, but was at least smart enough to realize what a huge idiot I was (huh?) and that I better have another look.

The first thing I noticed? A green lock. It was right below the first vandalized locker and right next to the second vandalized locker. But it had a white dial on the front, and I was sure it wasn’t mine. In fact, it had been one of the very few locks I didn’t try my combination on because I was sure that I had never seen it before. Certainly it wasn’t mine, but I dialed my combination into it, expecting the same result I had with the 97 other attempts on other locks.

Click. It opened so effortlessly. Half of me was so happy that I could finally get my kids and go home (almost an hour and 45 minutes had now passed), and the other half – probably closer to 3/4 – of me was embarrassed beyond belief. I also finally understood why I had heard my phone ringing.

I walked out of the locker room, this time with my bag in hand, and talked to a couple of the staff members who had been helping me. They wouldn’t let me pay for the locks I cut, even though I begged them to let me, and were nice enough to share some of their own absent minded mom moments with me. As I left, I told them they might not be seeing me for awhile :).

I picked up my kids from childcare (who despite being in there for three hours were actually still having the time of their lives), and after getting everyone in their car seats, I sat in the truck for a few minutes, trying to process what just happened. Ironically, I had remembered the combination to my lock, I just had no idea what my lock looked like :).

I still cringe inside when I think about this experience, but I am starting to find the humor in it. Starting.

Also, I’m happy to report that I didn’t take a leave of absence from the gym. I tell myself that no one will remember who I was, even though rationally I know the opposite is most likely true.

So, why share this story today? First, because even though I’m still mortified, I know that others think it’s hilarious, and I wouldn’t want to deprive anyone of the laughter. Second, perhaps you’ve never broken into one, let alone two, lockers at a gym, but we all have those moments, where we have 53 things on our minds at once, and our brain just has to let go of a detail or two every once in awhile as part of survival. And we can’t be too hard on ourselves when that happens, which is easier said than done. We’ll never be perfect, we’ll do dumb things sometimes, and that’s okay.

What I do know is that the little creatures that turn our lives upside down and suck the brain cells out of us are worth every bit of embarrassment and absent mindedness, and we gain so much more from them than we could ever imagine.

The other day as we were driving Wyatt asked me, “Mom, is it true that I teach you way more than you teach me?”

“Yep,” I said, “Definitely true.” :)

Have you had any embarrassing moments that you can now look back on and laugh? Please share (if only to make me feel better :))!

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  1. At least you locked your possessions away! I’ve left the house keys in the front door and car keys in the ignition on more than one occasion (thankfully, I now have a car with keyless start but still working on keyless entry for the house!)

  2. I have moments like this all the time! Just a couple days ago, I needed to wash a load of clothes but was in a rush to get the (very whiny!) kids out of the house because they had cabin fever bad. My MIL was going to take a shower and I didn’t want to use up the hot water, so I asked her if she’d start the wash after her shower and I’d be sure to load the machine and add the detergent tablet. I left in a rush after loading the machine. 30 mins later, i got a text from my MIL saying that she went to start the wash but nothing was inside. On a hunch, she opened the dryer, and what do you know? There were my dirty clothes in a pile with the detergent tab on top *smack* Believe me, you’re not alone. -Jen

  3. Oh dear! You did make me laugh, thanks a lot!!! Just got my second child. Haven’t had any major blunder yet, but I must say that indeed my brain isn’t working as well as before. Nothing to worry about though as long as our loved ones support us and are there to help :)

  4. in highschool I could never remember my combination – i’ve never been great with numbers ;op But this week I was leaving the gym (why is it always the gym???) and I got all three kiddos straped into their carseats and handed them juice and crackers and was feeling all proud that no one was having a melt down, and I peeled out of the parking lot without putting the stroller in the car – yeah the stroller that had my Ipad and wallet in it. Luckily I noticed a couple miles down the road and pulled a u turn to go back and get it – and luckily it was still sitting there in the middle of the parking lot. I’m thankful I parked it to the side of my car and not behind it otherwise I would have run it over ;op

  5. I spent hours in a panic once looking for my car keys (I only had one set) and even got to the point where I was sobbing in frustration on the phone to my deployed to the Middle East husband. I opened the front door to see if I had somehow dropped them outside, only to discover that they had been in the lock, on the outside of my front door, for an entire weekend (I hadn’t left the house for a few days.) Considering how fanatically I was bolting my front door every night (I am not great at sleeping alone!) I couldn’t believe I had left my keys in the door so any person could have either just walked into my house, or stolen the car out of the driveway!

  6. I am a reader, not generally a commenter, but your post came at just the right time! Thank you for sharing–I would have been freaking out and I give you a lot of credit for going back to the gym!!
    My moments usually happen at work, which is especially unfortunate because my work is very public. I’m a prosecutor in the special victims unit (crimes against women and children). I was publicly humiliated this week when a judge, on the record, in a crowded courtroom asked me if I knew what the Anola Gay was. Don’t ask how it came up–that’s a long story–but I didn’t. I’m not even sure I can attribute this one to mom brain. Do you guys know? I do now. It’s the plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima. It may not sound bad, but it was embarrassing. Courthouses are like high school and everyone had heard about it within the hour. Not to mention that the whole thing was taken down by a court reporter and is preserved for eternity.
    So thanks for your story and making me feel like I’m not alone.

  7. I can totally relate. 21 years after graduating high school, I STILL have dreams where I am frantically trying my combination and can’t remember it! I know it’s the right locker because it’s right between the two people who were always on either side of me (they were assigned alphabetically). I am still scared of locks with combinations so much that my bike lock is the kind that takes a key! The sad thing is, although I forget to do things or forget where I put things or forget why I walked into a room all the time, I can tell you my credit card number, my bank card number, my husband’s and my social security number, my library card number, etc, etc at any time. Thanks for making me feel like I have some company in the crazy department :)

  8. Oh my goodness! I was right there with you while reading this, I know that feeling of being humiliated all too well. It’s almost like an out of body experience! My problem seems to be dropping things at the grocery store… A glass jar of baby food? Crash! A BIG bag of rolls suddenly pops a hole! The apple I choose was somehow holding up ALL THE REST OF THE APPLES?! Hahaha! We can laugh later, right? I hear ya! You are not alone. Thanks for sharing!

  9. I’m so sorry! That sounds like a rotten day.

    I once locked my child (strapped into a car seat), keys, and phone in the car when it was 30 degrees outside. I was headed to the gym so I was wearing a t-shirt & shorts, no coat. I had to keep flagging people down to borrow their phones and couldn’t get ahold of my husband.

  10. Aww poor baby! Yes, I have suffered from pregnancy brain for 8 years. Some days are more challenging than others. I have gotten lost driving more times than I care to count. I was trying to go to the grocery store- that I’ve shopped at every week for a decade. Ended up on the other side of town once. Pitiful!

  11. The fact that you lose brain function after having children is actually scientifically proven. It’s one of the first thing my child development teacher told us in our first class – haha. It still doesn’t prepare you for when the moments happen and you can’t believe you would do something like that.

    I’ve left my keys in the door, I’ve completely forgotten to put (refrigerated) groceries away, etc. Thankfully I haven’t done much worse than that, yet. But I only have one (and a half) child… I am scared for what will happen with more kids…

  12. well, its not as traumatic as your experience but the other day I started the crockpot right after I got home from work, it’s a 3 hour cook time so not very convenient but OH so good! 2 hours later I went to check on it and the dial was turned to on, but I had forgotten to plug it in!!!! needless to say it was a long night… ;)

  13. I’m not generally a commenter, though I regularly follow your blog through google reader, but I just had to comment…. Oh my goodness, as I read your story I could so totally relate to how it must have felt. My pregnancy brain issues never had such a big audience, but I remember that time as one big fog! After my second child it was worse than before. Lots of little things (like having people point out to me that I’d put my older daughter’s shoes on the wrong feet or having to do inventory every time I stepped out of the house to make sure I was fully dressed, somewhat matching, and wearing shoes not slippers!) There was also the time after many sleepless nights that I grabbed a fresh bottle and mindlessly picked up the baby, and sat down to feed her only to glance down at the bemused smiling face of my older daughter cradled in my arms… whoops, wrong kid!

  14. This is the BEST thing I have heard all week! Month? Ever? I am so glad you figured it out, eventually, and I would have been mortified too!! That is hilarious, and never fear, my brain cells are 1/3 what they used to be too. While the heart grows bigger to make room for each child, the brain just divides itself up into smaller and smaller pieces!

  15. Oh Abby! I can’t even laugh at this story, I just want to cry for you. And if I had any brain cells left I’m sure I might remember at least 100 incidences of my own, but I can hardly remember what I wore yesterday. :)

  16. I can relate to Amy’s story! I once laid one of my sons on the ground to change his diaper and his response was, “Mom, I don’t want to wear a diaper!” I looked down to see my fully potty-trained almost-4-year-old, instead of my 2-year-old as I had expected. But the viewers at my family reunion, on my husband’s side were sure amused! Maybe we all need to embrace our “enhanced emotional states” and forgive ourselves for the rest! Glad you shared, Abs!

  17. I’ll just give you the headline of my latest debacle, “Mother of three turfs church lawn!” Needless to say there is a back story involving a rainy night, being on a call, thinking there was an actual lane there, etc etc etc. But, when it’s all said & done, I not only went too far in on the lawn looking for a way out (because I was so embarrassed as double lanes of PSR were letting out at that time!), then let my anger get the best of me & spun my wheels even deeper resulting in a $75.00 tow truck bill & a lengthy apology to the church the next day. I think I had every emotion possible that night. The only good thing that came from it was that the church was so touched and even awestruck that I called & refused my offer to fix or pay for the damage to the lawn. Very heartwarming. The best way to look at it for me (after a couple of days!) is that thank God that He gave me a sense of humor or I’d be a VERY bitter woman!

  18. This has made my day! I am so sorry you had to go through this, but seriously it is exactly something I would do and I can feel how embarassing it would be. I cannot believe the second lock wasn’t the right one! I’m just happy you found your stuff :)

  19. OMG I am still rolling. You made my day! Trust me you are not alone, You call it pregnancy fog I call it fibro fog. But I am so glad to see we are not alone. The number of things I have done I could write a book! I have gone to the wrong dr for an appointment, driven miles out of the way of where I was going because I just forgot where I was going, gotten into the wrong car in a parking lot, people really ought to lock their doors, you never know what kind of nut will end up in your car, then couldn’t figure out why who would have put all this “junk” in my car, ooops not mine. The number of times I have searched high & low for my glasses only to find them on my head or tucked on my shirt. I do thank God daily that he has given me a sense of humor in dealing with this stuff otherwise I think I would cry!

  20. hahahaha. thanks for the laugh abs. a couple weeks after Greta was born I was returning a shirt and I swiped my credit card (the one I have used everyday for a couple years) and it prompted me to out my PIN number in. I put it in…it was wrong. so I tried again, and again, and again. I ended up having to get a gift card for the returned item. I tried not to think about what my PIN number was thinking that it would just mess me up more. the next time I went out, I used my card and voila! apparently I remembered my PIN.

  21. Oh boy! I think my heart was racing just reading your story.

    Yes, yes, yes, we have all done things like that. I do believe my brain cells are starting to return now – my youngest is 4 (I have 5 though, so it’s been a while!)

    (I locked my oldest in the car with the keys on a hot day at the grocery store.)

  22. oh my abby. i’ve never had it that bad! I did make a beautiful cheese cake only to taste it and realize i completely forgot sugar…that is probably one of the saddest and funniest mom stories I’ve ever heard. I can’t believe it got worse!! At least you now have some new friends at the gym and can have some fun =)

  23. I definitely agree with you about “Pregnancy brain”. My baby is 7 now, and I have been waiting for my brain to come back. But I swear with every child we lose more.
    Thank you for sharing it. The more you tell it, the less mortifying it will become. At least that is what I think (if I could actually remember).

  24. Oh, that’s so funny! Don’t worry, you are not alone. Glad it didn’t stop you from going to the gym:).

  25. While I was reading along, before you began the stuff about the locks, I fully expected you to say you left the gym and forgot to get the kids from childcare. That’s something I would probably do.

    My claim to fame is leaving my wallet behind in a grocery cart. Three times. In as many weeks. The third time I didn’t realize it until I tried to exchange something all the way across town. All three kids (under 5 at the time) were with me. When I realized what had happened (again), and knew it meant another stop and another hour in the car, I just started sobbing. The poor man behind the counter overrode their must-have-receipt-and-original-method-of-payment policy and gave me cash on the spot. Bless him.

    Hang in there, mama. You are definitely not alone!

  26. Aw, that’s funny but definitely in a “this will be a good story but right now I want to go hide somewhere” kind of a way! My worst one was driving into a big red barn at my parents. I was 7 or 8 months pregnant and had been sick and tired. I was so livid at myself! Now I joke that my van has lipstick to set it apart from my inlaws identical one. ;)

  27. Oh man Abby! I do things that just make me stop in my tracks sometimes and think…really??? Kendall had a car that we only had one key to…he went on a trip and gave me said key so I could move it or drive it if needed. Well I didn’t really use it, but did keep it with me, even put it on my keychain, of course I did!! So he got back safely from his trip and then got up early Monday morning to leave for work in Phoenix, can’t find the key…can’t find it anywhere! I was pregnant for the 4th time and we just couldn’t find that dang key! Looked everywhere!!! So I end up packing up all the kids, and driving him to work and we got to buy a new smart key…very expensive. Incidentally we decided the key must have come undone from the smaller connecting ring on my key ring and I dropped it sometime, somewhere. Never to be seen again! So you are not alone!! Thank you for sharing with us!

  28. You might want to personalize your lock with fingernail polish. Just add a few dots or dashes so it will be unique. On the back it wouldn’t stand out but you could check it.
    I had 4 kids. Now I have a dog. The other day I was halfway home before I remembered she was waiting for me at the groomer.

  29. This is so hilarious. I don’t even know you and laughed out loud. I found you from a link at Hopeful Threads. Thanks for posting this. We all think we are going crazy from time to time, don’t we? If we can’t laugh, then we are in really big trouble. You are a wonderful writer/storyteller, by the way!

  30. OH, Abby! This is hilarious!!! I once let Cai play with my keys in Wal-mart! I swear they were my keys I handed him absent-mindedly while shopping to keep him occupied. A little while later, I looked in the cart. They were completely GONE! I immediately re-traced ALL of my steps, but the hopeless thing was that I had literally been around the entire wal-mart from left to right before realizing my keys were lost. The employees all got involved and I got desperate. I ran into a friend from church and she helped me look. Finally, I called my husband to come get me, because I couldn’t find my keys. He left work to pick us up, as it was now time for Cai’s nap and he was getting increasingly fussy! I pushed my paid for cart out the door key-less, resolved to come back and look for them. My husband had just pulled up next to my Blazer when I saw my keys… THEY WERE ON TOP OF MY SUV!!!! After a couple hours in Wal-mart, no one stole my car or reported them at all! Apparently I hadn’t handed Cai my keys inside the store at all! I felt like an idiot! LOL! And I still can’t figure out what I handed him that made a jingle sound like keys! hahaha!

  31. Embarrassing mom moments? How do I choose? I have 5 kids who have now morphed into 3 teens, a tween, and a 9 year old. A few months ago I tried to unlock a truck that wasn’t mine ( found mine parked two spaces down) my fourth child ( at 3 years old) locked my fifth child (infant) in the car with my purse and both sets of keys twice. Once at home ( thanks sheriff for breaking into my car) and once at a cemetery grave side service ( thank you for not charging me locksmith man). Recently I was standing outside my suburban after a trip,to JoAnn fabrics ( probably on a high from new fabric) digging through my purse looking for my keys. When I found the keys, I looked up to see that I was in fact standing outside an identical suburban, getting ready to unlock it with its owner sitting in the driver seat. I could go on and on. I hope that the brain cells grow back after my kids have left home. Thanks for sharing your story, it was funny ;-)

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