Our nanny works very hard. When our work schedules get crazy, she is always willing to stay later or come earlier. For her part, we compensate her well, let her go home if we get home early, pay her in full even if we’re out of town, and give bonuses when we can. She knows we appreciate her, she adores our kids, and quite importantly, the kids adore her.
However, not once has she asked for time off. So after much encouragement, and a reminder that we were going to pay her anyway, she found some dates that would work for her take a trip. Jennifer and I made arrangements with our respective employers to take time off work so that one or both of us could be home with the kids. It was all set for the weekdays.
But Jennifer had committed to being a caddy for one of her clients BOTH SATURDAY AND SUNDAY so that left me as a mostly single parent over the weekend. Okay. We went to the park, played on the swings, and I mostly prayed and held my breath as one experienced toddler went up the stairs and down a slide while the other toddler was running across the playscape bridge. In opposite directions. Hovering over your child is something only the parent of a singleton has the luxury to do. The rest of us have to use a zone defense.
My patience was tried at meal times what with the my-belly-is-full-so-I’m-going-to-toss-food-now and the I-can-clean-my-dirty-hands-off-by-rubbing-them-through-my-hair. There was plenty of whining, mostly related to someone taking the one toy that the other wanted, this in a room full of books and toys. I waited too long once to get them down for their (now only one per day) nap so there was plenty of drama surrounding that experience. Like when I was changing Harper’s diaper, in the middle of wiping poop, when Mateo decided to open, crawl into, and then toss himself out of, the bottom dresser drawer. Over the corner. Resulting in a four inch blood bruise down his sternum. And lots and lots of tears. Which made Harper cry.
That afternoon, I took them to their godparent’s house where we played in the pool and had snacks (and mommy had a yummy mint margarita. Thanks KF!) Crazy trip to the grocery store with the twins (yay for big carts) because I had committed to making some meatloaf and rice for some friends with a new baby. Those crazy moments offset by sweet kisses, lots of lap time with favorite books, hearing (mostly Harper’s) exploding vocabulary. Overall, Saturday was super!
That gave me plenty of confidence to map out our plan for Sunday. And that’s when the Get-Ready-To-Be-Humbled gods decided to play games with me. Like when after walking to the park (we use a stroller as infrequently as possible) and playing for an hour, we head home, me having convinced the kids that water and snacks awaited them, that thought being the biggest motivator for getting them home without too much distraction. Only to arrive at the driveway to realize that the garage door opener has fallen out of my pocket. Somewhere between our house and the park a hundred and fifty yards away. SOME WHERE.
I found it, but it’s a shame carrying fifty pounds of toddlers the length of a couple football fields doesn’t result in toned arms.
Or when, as I’m about to change Mateo’s diaper, he starts coughing and choking. So I hold his lower body down with one elbow (because HELLO, who wants a completely full poopy diaper and exposed tallywacker left to their own devices?), while turning his head to the side. At which point I finger sweep some meatloaf and peas out of his mouth. THE MEATLOAF AND PEAS HE HAD FOR LUNCH AN HOUR EARLIER. The guy loves to suck on his food. FOREVER.
Or, because I’ve been on a hunt for a non-themed flip toddler sofa and had heard I might find one at Ikea, we went there. On a Sunday afternoon. And the crowds! And the standing in the middle of the aisles! Thought clouds hanging above their heads saying “which. way. should. I. go. I. wonder. maybe. left? no. maybe. this. way.” And then POP! goes the cloud because I’ve just clipped the back of their flip-flopped heels and then said “oh, oops, sorry!” even though I did it on purpose. Granted, only after I said “excuse me, please” no less than a hundred times.
I start feeling a little clammy.
And on our way to the Children’s Museum, my belly did this thing that caused me to ponder what I had eaten that day. Turns out not much. An egg that morning and a slice of toast. Some cranberry juice. A few pita chips and hummus at lunch. Water. Half of a half of an uneaten grilled cheese.
Oh…yes…I am about to go there.
So we get to the museum, I get the two kids and the diaper bag into the stroller in no time flat. Stash the duck and the sunglasses and the coloring books in strategic places for the trip home later. Push up to the Members lane, and get stopped by a chronically needy member of my mother’s of multiples group. And she’s all “are you here with the MoM’s group for the playdate?” And I’m all “NO” because really, I am not. And I’m being all rude and dismissive, avoiding eye contact, and acting like I don’t recognize her, not because she has a tendency to suck the life of out of you – which she does, but because…I’m about to shit my pants.
I blow past her, clip a few more adult flip-flips, head to the elevators and wait for one to finally open up. “Finally” as in it was probably thirty seconds, but you know how slow time passes when you need a bathroom. And just as the doors are about to close, the hand of Needy waves between them and there the doors go opening because she’s headed to the Tot Spot, too. Wait, aren’t you “Rachel with the MoMs group?” “Yes,” I say, feigning lack of recognition because all I can think of is breathing and counting to onetwothreefourfivesixseveneightnineten…BREEAAAAATHHEEEE…onetwothreefourfivesix… And she’s all “I’m ….” And I’m all “oh, yeaaaahhhhh….” LIKE I WASN’T TRYING TO PRETEND I DIDN’T KNOW YOU and then the elevator is all “Ding!” and she’s saying something about asking my advice and I’m all, “hold that thought, we’re taking a detour to change diapers, see you in a bit!” …seveneightnineten…BREEEAAAATHHHHEEEEE.
And that’s when I bust through the bathroom door backwards, flinging the stroller behind me, Harper laughing and going “YAAAAAAAAAYYYYYY!” because she likes to go fast and get tossed around and she thinks my desperation to get to a stall is fun and Mateo is all “WHOOOOOOOAAAAAAHHHHHH!”. And I’m all “Mommy has to go potty!” And we go into the handicapped stall and I can’t get my pants down fast enough.
Let me take this opportunity to say that we very rarely have the kids in a stroller. They are used to walking, even if it means we get there – wherever ‘there is – slower. This is all part of fostering independence and active participation in their environment. This has it’s pluses and minuses. Thing is, right now it’s a minus because the kids have now been in a stroller for ten minutes. The same kids who were subjected to thirty minutes of stroller at a Times Square crowded Ikea. The same kids who had been in a carseat for another forty minutes combined since leaving the house. And now they are at the museum, could see the entrance where slides and blocks and tunnels await them. And what did I do? I took them in the opposite direction. So you can imagine their general dispositions at this point.
I’m sitting there shitting my brains out, hot flashes and sweating, sure I’m about to pass out on a toilet in the handicapped stall of the Children’s Museum because it fits a sick mommy and a double stroller and mercy flushing like every sixty seconds.
AND IT’S PAST SNACK TIME. So there’s that.
There I am doling out graham crackers and water between flushes and whining and trying to peel themselves out of the stroller all the while signing “more” and “please” and “thank you.” Right there in the stall.
I am not even kidding.
And I’m all “mmmmm, cookies.” And Mateo and Harper are all “mmmmmm”, Mateo’s eyes getting big every time I flush the toilet. And at this point, I cannot even imagine what this sounds like to someone else who is also in the bathroom. Can’t. Even. Imagine. Some Houston mom is out there posting about the shitting, flushing, parent feeding her kids in the Children’s Museum bathroom stall and all I can say is: TRUST ME, I DIDN’T HAVE A CHOICE.
So anyway, I’m done. I get up, open the door, tell the kids “want to go play at the museum?” as I wash my hands, and they’re both nodding “Yes”, something new within the last week. And someone walks in, and we’re about to walk out, and then the stomach cramps hit me. AGAIN. So I’m all “okay, but mommy has to go potty first.” And right then I’m really glad I brought the cheerios/golfish/raisin trail mix, too.
After all that, we’re another fifteen minutes of stroller confinement and I decide we must do diaper changes because the cheapie diapers we bought to save money are sometimes leaky and it was at least another hour before we’d be home. Cue the mini-meltdowns.
Of the ninety minutes we were at the museum, I think we were in the damn bathroom for half of it. What with my brain and most of my internal organs flushed away, the time wasn’t all lost on Mateo and Harper. I mean they had snacks, right? That’s good parenting! And afterward, I let them loose in the TotSpot, both in my visual periphery as Mateo heads right toward the slide, and Harper heads left toward the tunnels.