My partner owns an escape room business and often works on the weekends. This means I have two days alone with two kids where I get creative, drink my weight in coffee, and pray it doesn’t rain. Don’t get me wrong, I love playing with my kids. Especially when I’m home after a long week of connected-to-my-phone work-time. However, with a teething one-year old and an almost three-year old dictator, I sometimes feel paralyzed by this daily dilemma: should we stay or should we go?
Staying in the house means movies, puzzles, snacks all day, and a living room that looks like a tornado tore through an episode of Hoarders. Leaving the house means about an hour packing a diaper bag, car naps, and praying neither child has a very public meltdown. Both involve triumphs and challenges we didn’t anticipate as our family has grown.
I’m a pretty restless person and a defiant Taurus. When I had my first baby, I was determined to prove (to whom, I’m not sure) that my life wasn’t changing that dramatically. I could still do cool things like drink beer at a brewery while nursing my nugget. I could change a diaper in the back of a car at a concert. I could eat at a fancy restaurant and burp a gassy human. I’ll be honest, it felt pretty awesome. There’s something about the universal nod from other feeding, juggling, wiping, running moms that’s like a high five to the soul saying, “The crazy in me recognizes the crazy in you. Namaste, mama.” I even believe kids learn a lot from tagging along with their parents. I credit his (mostly) decent behavior with teaching him how to act in public early.
When I had my second child, I had the same ambitions of peaceful outings and solidarity nods. What’s so hard about bringing two kids to the zoo?
Answer: literally everything.
After our first family of four outing, I thought I may never leave the house again. How do you nurse your little when your big is running around? How do you de-escalate a toddler meltdown when your infant is trying to sleep in a stroller? Most importantly, how, in all that is holy, do you hover a two-year old on a public toilet while your three-month old dangles precariously in a sling?
Those first few outings left me overwhelmed and feeling like we should just be hermits and never leave the house. At least in our home, I can keep the humans semi-contained, and I don’t get caught in the middle of Old Navy with a toddler threatening to crap himself and an infant blowing out the back of a onesie. JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL.
There’s so much unnecessary social pressure to go out and live your life exactly how it was before you had kids. Newsflash, nothing is the same after you have kids. My parts aren’t where I left them, my brain is a pile of pudding, and sometimes I just don’t want to make it work. This is hard for a social extrovert, like myself, to grasp. I’ve never felt overwhelmed at the prospect of being around people, but I’m starting to realize that’s OK. I don’t have to prove to anyone that I’m capable of wrangling two monkeys. I especially don’t have to prove that to myself.
For new mamas and mamas lucky enough to have more than one: sometimes you’re going to feel like Wonder Woman, slinging babies like it’s your job, and sometimes you’re going to feel like a swamp monster who hasn’t showered in three days. There’s no one forcing you to put on a bra and get out of the house. Seriously, there are no mom-police. A movie day for your kids and a day without planning, packing, and running around can do wonders. When I’ve pulled myself together enough to at least remember the diaper bag, we’ve had incredible adventures as a family. Sometimes the best adventures involve jammies until 2pm and fruit snacks for breakfast.