Along with motherhood came a fact of life that after two years I’m still having trouble accepting: Out in public is not where I belong. At least not with my very young kids. Almost every day I defy this truth, telling myself it’s worth it.
IT IS RARELY WORTH IT.
For example. This weekend I was craving Mexican food and I wanted to get out of the house. The answer was obvious: Take my family to my favorite Mexican restaurant for lunch. Foolproof plan, right?
Riiiiight. +Seth and I spent half the time encouraging our 2-year-old to stop jumping on us and the other half of the time on the floor wiping up the baby’s spit up, which comes out by the pint all day long. The teenage busboy kept glancing over at us and drawling “Do you need more napkins?”
Finally Seth managed to get most of his food down his throat and hauled our atmosphere-destroying sons out to the privacy of our car. Thankfully our server forgot I was waiting for her to come take my credit card, so I had several minutes alone in the booth with my carne asada. I smoothed my hair and closed my eyes, taking some slow breaths.
The food wasn’t even as good as I thought it would be.
Another time -- this was a year and a half ago, when there was only one Grigglet -- we optimistically booked a couple extra nights in a hotel in St. Louis, where my brother-in-law was getting married. The famous arch was practically within arms reach of the window.
Unfortunately, Jonah can’t fall asleep if he knows we’re in the room. We spent every night, ALL NIGHT, pacing with him or feeding him, sometimes resorting to letting him cry it out while we hid in the bathroom only to have him wake up within the hour. I feel sorry for myself even now, writing about it.
By the time our stay was up, I was ready to punch the arch in the face. We all needed home. And sleep. Lots of sleep.
But here’s the good news: While I was standing by the table at the Mexican restaurant, watching my carne asada grow cold, there was a soft little baby cheek just inches from my lips. And when the server brought more horchata, my 2-year-old clapped his hands and shouted “YES!”
And in St. Louis, when we took our then-9-month-old to the (free!) zoo, he pulled himself to his feet in front of the turtle tank and tried his hardest to wrap his pudgy hand around the little guy treading water behind the glass.
It’s hard to remember every day that this is the life I want, but it IS the life I want. Despite the baby and toddler drama that spreads chaos through the house, deep down, my heart has never felt this good. I don’t know which I hear more of, laughing or crying, but the laughter is full of joy and the tears do eventually end.
But I might punch YOU in the face if you try to remind me of that the next time an attempt at experiencing life beyond my front door knocks me down.