Hello, dear readers. It’s been awhile, I know. I’m still here. I’m exhausted and typically close to a meltdown most of the time, but even people who live next to volcanoes have days where the wind shifts and they relax a little, right? Is that not a real saying? Who knows what I’m saying anymore? That’s probably why I haven’t written. It’s stream of consciousness all of the time in this brain. A total crapshoot for whether something coherent will come tumbling out. Welcome to parenting two kids two and under. Most of the time I’m lost, asking why something is wet, and wishing there was such a thing as a Laundry Fairy.
I packed up both boys and went to the Lincoln Park Zoo yesterday. My friend, Lisa, met me there and helped me wrangle the dudes while we walked around in what could be described as not-ideal-zoo-weather. It was a good day, though. It was nice to get out of the house. My sister-in-law, Caitlin, packs up all three of her kids and goes to the zoo all the time. She is my idol. I don’t know how she manages that, and frankly, knowing the details of how difficult it probably is would just shatter the image I have of her, wandering the zoo in a Wonder Woman cape.
My anxiety flared up as Jonathan had a screaming hungry-and-tired fit with a volume that is only rivaled by other screaming zoo animals and a lady came over to tell me about a magical hold to help babies stop crying that she saw on TV. You know, the one where you cross their arms over their chest and hold them in one hand on their belly while you move their hips? Right. If he was an infant, sure, but he’s a 7-month-old behemoth I can’t hold up with one hand like that anymore. Despite her polite demeanor, I was annoyed. Then I looked down to find that the underwire of my bra had slid entirely out of its casing and was poking me in the chin. WHAT? WHY? So I got the baby to stop screaming, the toddler to stop asking for juice, and two sips of an excellent root beer float down before Jonathan spit up all over me and my shoe. Neat. I could feel the heat rising to my cheeks. I wouldn’t have minded that, since I was severely under-dressed and freezing, but I could feel my fight-or-flight reflex being activated. I could do neither. So I took a breath and got things under control and chastised myself for forgetting a burp rag and Harrison’s juice cup. I told Lisa that I wished I was one of those Moms that other people look at and say, “Boy, she really has her shit together,” but I know I’m just a hot mess.
She seemed to ponder on that awhile. On the way home she said, “From an outsider’s perspective, you seem like any other parent with their kids out in public. You don’t seem like a mess. You seem like a normal parent.” I thought on that. I guess if I’d seen any other parent with a screaming baby I would’ve just said, “That dude is tired,” not, “She’s a hot mess.” I told Lisa that I figure maybe part of my problem is that I’m the only parent there, so I’m supposed to have thought of everything. If my husband and I were out somewhere with the kids together and realized we forgot to bring a bottle or something, we’d shrug and go, “Damn, we forgot that. Let’s fix it.” It wouldn’t be a big deal. We’d figure it out because we, as a team, forgot it. (Frankly, we do that relatively often. I don’t know if we’re just particularly forgetful or if parenting just scrambles your brains to the point that you constantly forget things. Tell me it’s the latter. Lie to me.)
After I dropped Lisa off and the boys fell asleep in the car, I drove home, quietly, listening to the radio. The song Unsteady came on. The lyrics, “Hold on to me ’cause I’m a little unsteady,” really got me and I was suddenly crying softly. I am a little unsteady. I’m unsteady because I’m human. We don’t all have to be rocks all the time. We don’t have to plan everything ahead. We can forget things and fix them on the fly. If I could just get out of my own way and stop being so hard on myself, I’d probably see that I’m doing a pretty good job here.