One Overly Analytical Mother's Obsessive Musings about Raising Small Children

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Why does going out to lunch take all day?

Sometimes it's hard to convey to people who don't spend much time around small children just how they change the pace of your daily life. Before I had kids, I could go anywhere I wanted, when I wanted. I could leave the house at a moment's notice, and run several errands in a single hour.

That, my friend, is no longer. Let's take going out to lunch for example. An old friend of mine recently invited me out to lunch. In the old days (pre-kids), this would be easy and enjoyable. Now, it takes a whole day of planning, and involves a fair degree of hair pulling.

Now is about the time that I lament the fact that I do not have a middle-of-the-week-day babysitter. If I need to do something during the week day, I drop the kids off at my husband's work and he watches them. (This is also why I do not do much during the week day, because mixing kids and work only "works" for just so long.) On this occasion, I had to wager my need to get out and visit with a friend against the disruption it would cause my husband's work. Is it worth the risk?, I wondered.

Lunch was planned for high noon, but I put the wheels in motion to leave the house around 10 AM. It takes a good hour to get the kids out the door. It involves making sure everybody is dressed, halfway groomed, and fed. It means changing diapers and bringing potty trained toddlers to the toilet. Now that it's winter, it also involves putting on all of those extra layers: winter coats, boots, hats, and mittens. By the time we get all of that accomplished, the toddler has to go to the bathroom again, so off go the winter wraps, and part of the cycle repeats. Forget about actually doing MY hair, makeup, or any of that frou-frou stuff. If it's not stained, I can still wear it. And there are plenty of cute winter hats to conceal the fact that my frizzed-out Mediterranean hair hasn't been blown out to perfect glossy straightness.

My husband calls from work wondering where we are and I have to tell him we were still at home, wrestling with the winter gear and the potty. I had to take the baby, kicking and screaming, and force her into her carseat. She wouldn't settle down until she was nursed, this time in the front seat of the car. In the meantime, my toddler gets hungry and I feed him a nutritious snack of gummy fruit chews, procured from my mobile snack center in the console of my car. Luckily, the toddler was excited to see his daddy, and I didn't have to fight a battle just to get him into the car. He happily munched on his gummies and the baby guzzled her milk. Finally, at 11:30 AM, we pulled the car out of the garage and were on our way.

I drop the kids off to my husband, and whiz to the Chinese restaurant where my friend is patiently waiting, with a coffee and a book. Oh, to sit, drinking coffee and reading a book! After circling the block several times, I park the car in a semi-illegal spot and hope the meter reader won't make his rounds. I arrive frazzled but somewhat giddy as I am, for one brief hour, my own woman. Noboy is hanging on my leg. Nobody needs to be fed or cajoled into peeing in the toilet. For the moment, I try not to think about the chaos that will ensue as I pick up my children, who won't want to leave their daddy, and the look on my husband's face, which means that I must take them immediately, before they cause the business to collapse and the building to fall down on all of us. By the time I pick up my kids and return home, it will be almost 4:00 PM and we will begin preparing dinner.

Sometimes going out to lunch really is worth an entire day's worth of planning and effort!

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