One day, not long after Zoe was born, my friend Lori and I were talking about how hard even the smallest outing is with kids. She had just given birth to her second child, and they were adjusting to life with a 20 month old and an infant, while we were adjusting to life with two 2 year olds and an infant. Since our own unique situations were all we knew, it was equally hard for each of us.
To my complete and utter surprise, it came up that as they struggled to complete a shopping trip, Lori’s husband mentioned how our family is “always going places” and (to paraphrase) we basically made it look like a piece of cake tossing all three kids in the car and heading out on fabulous excursions at the drop of a hat.
Once I stopped heaving with hysterical laughter, caught my breath, and picked myself up off the floor, I made sure to set the story straight.
We are a walking circus, my friends. Only less organized, and with only slightly fewer, slightly less creepy clowns.
Yes, we do enjoy getting out of the house as a family. Ok, “enjoy” is putting it a little strongly. But we do it. Going out as a family with two almost 3 year olds and a baby is hard. It’s work. And we are exhausted when we are done.
Going to Target? Sure! It’s fun when a trip to pick up a few necessities results in kids who continuously try to bust out of the massive bus cart for 2+ kids, all the while screaming, “GO SEE TIANA DOLLS! GO SEE TIANA DOLLS!” Before you know it you have spent the entire time in the toy aisle, it’s time to go home for lunch and naps, and although you are going home $91 poorer, you’ll now be wiping your ass with your hand because you forgot to grab the toilet paper. But hey, you did get some cute little Tinkerbell dolls. With Cheese!
And then there’s the birthday party. The birthday party that’s at a popular pizza place with games, toys, and loads and loads of kids flying on pizza and soda highs.
Since we are continually outnumbered, even birthday parties at peoples’ homes are a challenge, so you can imagine the hilarity that ensues when we are in a crowded public place with the mass chaos of lights! games! toys! But we go because a) birthday parties are fun…for someone, b) we may get a glimpse of, or maybe even a quick hello to our friends whilst wrangling our cattle kids, and c) the birthday girl/boy is usually a very good friend, and we wouldn’t miss it for the world. Really, we wouldn’t. Unless Rachel vomits in the car on the way there. It’s happened.
But despite all good intentions, we usually end up with kids who refuse to eat anything but cake (if that), repeatedly try to escape the party room for bigger and better adventures, then run in two different directions once released into the mass chaos of lights! games! toys! Don’t forget the horning in on other kids’ air hockey games and scaling the skee ball lanes (kids and dads) to retrieve balls haphazardly thrown about.
All of which is inevitably followed by the meltdown to end all meltdowns due to massive overstimulation, being corralled when they want to run free, and of course, not eating a damn thing.1
The ride home was fun. And quiet.2
And I found myself turning to my husband and fellow cattle wrangler and saying over the wails of an overtired baby and the cries from the back for popcorn and bunnies (don’t ask), “I really wonder if we look as haphazard and chaotic as we feel when we do these things.”
Well? I’m dying to know. Do we?3
1 Why in the world will my kids not eat pizza? Why???
2 I’m lying.
3 If the answer is yes, then I don’t really want to know. If the answer is “Why no, Leigh Ann, your family is always the picture of perfection, and my, don’t you look thin!” Well, then, go on…
Whatever we do, we are always stylin and profilin!