Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Not Cut Out for This

One cold November morning I had one of those, I'm not cut out for this! moments.  The exhausting, traumatizing moments of motherhood that you can't necessarily prevent, and that you do not soon forget.

I was picking up my 3 year-old son from preschool.  It was pouring rain.  I had my one-year-old daughter in tow.  I was getting over a sinus infection.  It was one day after Daylight Savings.  The list goes on.  When we got to the parking lot, I managed to find a single faraway empty parking spot.  I had to prop open my umbrella over the car door to get my daughter out of the car while trying to keep us both somewhat dry until we got in the building.

After plenty of struggling, my daughter and I made it inside, dragging the travel stroller behind me, as she had refused to sit in it.  On Mondays, there is a swim lesson at the end of  my son's class.  It sounds terrific, right?  I had no idea how hard it would make pick-up Every. Single. Monday.

Allow me to set the scene for you:  the indoor pool area is incredibly hot and humid.  I was wearing a down vest to protect me from the brutal Minnesota elements and still holding my getting-heavier-by-the-second, fearless toddler so that she wouldn't run directly into the pool.  My ubiquitous yoga pants were now wet from the rain, and I was in a sweat within a few seconds of entering the pool area.

Before I could even wave hello, my son was out of the pool, standing in his wet swim trunks yelling for me to take them off.  In front of everyone.  All of the other children in his class were still happily swimming in the pool.  He was the only one who had clearly decided he was finished.

I rushed over to him to avoid the tantrum I knew was brewing, but I couldn't find his bag of clothes.  My daughter started crying for me to put her down, presumably so she could try out a cannonball despite the fact she cannot swim.  The sweat beaded on my forehead.  My son was getting more frustrated trying to pull his own swimsuit down at this point, and soon enough it was very possible that he would be completely naked in a large public space.  I was also somewhat aware that his teacher was trying to tell me something.  I still have no idea what she was saying.  My nose was running and I had no tissues or free hands to wipe it anyway.  Uncomfortable does not begin to describe my state, and the fun was just beginning.

The other preschool moms-- without toddlers in tow-- were sitting comfortably in chairs by the pool, enjoying their break and watching their kids splash and swim.  Probably looking at me with a mixture of pity and relief that they weren't me.

This is awesome, I thought, feeling the many pairs of eyes focused on my children and me.

Against all odds, I eventually shuffled my angry toddler and 3 year-old son into the locker room and proceeded to force my daughter in the travel stroller so that I could focus on getting my son dressed.  He was now naked.  I rummaged for his clothes and then glanced over to find that my daughter had miraculously freed herself from the stroller and was aimlessly wandering the locker room and touching every germ-ridden surface she could reach.  I strapped her back into the stroller, despite her loud protests and surprisingly strong arms.

The locker room was filling up with other families now, possessing what seemed like perfectly calm, well-behaved children.

I turned back to my son.  I couldn't find his socks.  Let's just put the shoes on and get out of here, I mumbled, grabbing his shoes.  "I NEED socks!" he yelled, apparently deciding for the first time in his entire life that he wanted to wear socks.  Knowing I couldn't win this one, I fished through my bag and found a pair, and got him dressed as quickly as I could.  But then he found his other t-shirt in his school bag.  He insisted on layering his shirts.  They had to be layered.  He also wondered [over and over] what was causing the loud noise he heard in the locker room.  My daughter started to share her hungry cry with the crowd.  All I wanted was to get us home.

But remember, it was pouring rain.  So I wasn't done yet.  I had lost my umbrella at some point during all the excitment.  My hungry, tired children and I wandered the large, busy building and by the grace of God eventually found it.  I could have cared less if I got sopping wet at this point (I already resembled a drowned rat), but there is nothing my son hates more than having water on his clothes.  Seriously.  There is no way he would have left the building without rain protection, and I wasn't strong enough to carry two kicking and screaming children to the car.

Armed with my umbrealla, we made it to the door of the building, and I tried to balance the umbrella over the kids and myself as we waddled to our faraway parking spot in the windy, gray November weather.  The kids stayed somewhat dry.  I was soaking wet.  Tired.  Shivering.  Embarrassed.  And still sick.

That's it, I thought, as I realized I had dropped my car key in the middle of the parking lot, I'm not cut out for this!

It was one of those mornings where I wanted to wave that white flag of surrender, and though a few episodes of Dora later we all started to recover, I'm not sure I will ever forget it.

~Julia @ Frantic Mama

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