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Mousie–a tale of love, loss and redemption

In my past two and a half years as a parent there have been a number of “mommy fail” moments.  You know those times when you struggle to get her shoes on despite the toddler histrionics only to realize after you get to the car that you put them on the wrong feet.  Or forgetting that your baby has learned how to roll over and she falls off the ottoman.  Or you are annoyed that she’s being so whiny and acting out only to realize that it’s a good half hour past her dinner time.  You know, those moments.

None of them compares to the realization that we lost one of her favorite lovies.  She has become attached to a small Hello Kitty that my mom got her at Christmas and a velour Minzie Mouse made by Zutano.  Kitty and Mousie are quite the pair and go everywhere together—one tucked in each chubby little arm.  Sometimes they are toted in her backpack, sometimes in her cute summer purse.   When it’s time to leave the house she runs and grabs them to come along for the ride.  They are always with her for naps and bedtime.

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Because these two have had a lot of adventures (and more than a few spills onto the asphalt) Kitty usually looks really filthy, you know she’s a white cat after all.  Mousie got pretty filthy herself too.  She wears a green and white striped jumpsuit.  When I went to wash her and peeled off her outfit she had a “farmer’s tan” of filth.  She washed up perfectly, Kitty still has a residual aura of dirt though.

One Sunday we decided to have a picnic in the park.  We grabbed our food from the grocery and headed to a beautiful park  where we could sit and watch the Sparkle Girl run around on the playground.  I carried the picnic basket and Sparky and the Sparkle Girl trailed behind.  We had a lovely time and when it was time to pack up I noticed something that made my heart stop.  The cute summer purse only had one occupant.  Mousie was missing!  Oh no.  To say that I freaked out is a major understatement.  I grabbed the car keys and headed back the way we came.

No sign of Mousie anywhere.  Not in or under the car.  Not next to the car.  Not on the ground anywhere between the road and the playground.  It wasn’t on or under the play structure.  I may or may not have completely melted down  expressed my concern.  The details are a little fuzzy (OK, I made a scene and it was unpleasant for my husband and anyone around us). Ugh. She must have fallen out and someone must have picked her up.

Let me take a moment to rant here: Who finds a stuffed animal that is obviously very much loved and takes it? Why not leave it right where it is–or if it is in the bushes or is otherwise hidden place it in plain site?  What is wrong with people?!

So we go home and swing by the grocery where one of H’s babysitters is now a sacker to see if she fell out there. Babysitter said she’d keep an eye out.  I start furiously looking online.  The only place I saw her listed didn’t actually have them.  None on e-bay, none, nada, zero, not happening.  So I take a chance and post a note on Zutano’s Facebook page asking if there’s a chance to find a Minzie Mouse knowing that it had been discontinued.  It was a long shot and I was desperate.   I finally go to bed with a heavy heart.

Next morning a little voice called out while searching her bed: “Mousie, where are you? Mousie? Mousie?” I felt sick. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her it was over.  I gently said “I don’t know where Mousie is, let’s go downstairs.”

That day someone at Zutano responded to my post.  They asked me to email them with the color and they’d see what they could find, but that she hadn’t been produced for over 5 years.  Such incredible sweetness, but I didn’t have high hopes.  I mean, 5 years!  I also knew that a fire burned their warehouse to the ground last year too.  So I continued to check places like Lostmylovey.com, Babycenter, Twitter spreading my hopes around as far as possible.  I went back to the grocery and to the park.  Nothing.  I also started checking with the consignment shops.  Nothing. I got lots of great support from other moms, which was very much needed and appreciated.

The next morning, again “Mousie, Mousie, where are you?”  I had to tell her “Mousie’s gone honey.” I wanted to throw up.  Seeing Kitty all by herself in the summer purse just looked wrong.  It all felt wrong.  I was distraught.  I think that this episode brought up some of my own stuff.  That’s one of the hazards of parenthood, all the crap that has lain dormant from your own childhood comes raging back at particularly inopportune times.  My sister left her bear in Virginia when we were kids and it was never seen again.  She forbade my nephew to let his panda (that I brought him from China) out of the house.  Panda had his own adventure when he was left in a hotel during a move out of state. Luckily he was express shipped to their new address and was waiting for them when they arrived. When we moved after my dad retired from the Navy I was ten.  The A list toys were unpacked but the rest remained boxed forever (along with a lot of our clothes and other important items).  I was moving beyond dolls and toys, but wasn’t quite there yet.  It was kind of forced on me.  I keep hoping to run across a box of toys from 1978 when I go to my mom’s house.  I think there was a low-grade sense of loss over that, which had remained unaddressed for years and years.  We call those dormant explosive issues “sea monsters”–they rise up from the depths when least expected.

In true toddler resilience she had started to move on.  A teddy bear my aunt sent at Christmas was showing signs of becoming the replacement, but not with a lot of enthusiasm. I had mixed feelings about it. Glad to see her resilience but still stinging from the loss myself.

Cut to that Wednesday, I heard from Zutano:  “I have found what may be the last Aqua Minzie Mouse on earth :-)  Please send me your mailing address (usps) and I’ll pop it in priority for you.”

I got completely emotional.  Teary-eyed relief flooded through me.  Mousie was on her way home!  What incredible customer service!!  Can you believe that they did this?!  Words cannot convey the appreciation I have for Betzi and Zutano.  You would never, never have this experience with a large corporation.  If you got a response at all it would be to steer you to buy one of their newer products.  I can’t imagine what lengths Betzi went to in order to find Mousie.  Did she have to beg an employee to turn over their stash?  Did she steal the last sample in the archives?

Friday I received the package and cried.  Sparky made me wait until he came home from work to reveal it, which nearly killed me.  In retrospect we should have waited until Saturday morning since this ended up being right before bedtime.  We propped it up on the ottoman when Sparkle Girl’s back was turned.  When she saw it she ran to it with a GIANT smile.  Mousie was grabbed up in her chubby little hands.  She grabbed Kitty and had them talking to each other in moments.  When we put her up in her crib we could hear her chattering like a spider monkey on crack for a good couple of hours. Apparently everyone had a lot of catching up to do.

Saturday morning we headed out with Mousie and Kitty in the summer purse and a smiling toddler.  At one point she said “Mousie where are you?”  Then held up the bag and said “There you are!”  Love just flooded out of my heart.  For her and for Zutano.  I have been telling everyone I know. Now I’m telling you.  That teddy bear hasn’t been picked up since.  Her heart always belonged to Mousie.

My “mommy fail” moment was converted into a “mommy is a hero!” moment.  You can be absolutely certain that we will be extra-cautious with Mousie 2.0.  This was a redemption miracle and it’s not likely to happen again.  She’s staying in the car from now on.  I’m sure it will result in a much cleaner mouse now too~

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(This is one of Mousie’s near misses earlier this summer at the zoo.)

PS–this post was edited slightly so I could do the Mama Kat’s Losin’ It writing prompt link-up for this week.

Mama’s Losin’ It

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