I am a whiz at unrealistic expectations. In undergrad I had two jobs and a full-time course load. A few years later, I was working full time, in grad school half time, and taking horseback riding lessons. You know, in my free time. Do not mistake this for overachieving — this is a failure on my part to understand that there are only 24 hours in a day, and only one of me. This could be why I had two babies in 10 months; I’m chronically bad at this type of math.
This was illustrated to me — again — at a pool party this week. My husband couldn’t make it, so I thought it would be a great idea to take the kids by myself. What could possibly go wrong? I even made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies.
We pulled up in front of the house (ahem, 45 minutes late), and suddenly I was confronted with a new math problem. How would one solve this equation?
(1 diaper bag + 1 tote bag with towels and changes of clothes for all of us+ 2 dozen cookies + 1 child who can’t walk + 1 child who can walk, but will run into the street with wild abandon the second I let go of his hand) x (method of locomotion) = successful entrance into the party.
Like a pack mule, I slung the bags over a shoulder and unstrapped Cade from his car seat. I carried him around to the other side of the car and perched his little feet on the doorjamb of Grady’s side and then stood behind him, effectively wedging him in so he couldn’t run away. I unstrapped Grady, hefted him into my arms, took Cade’s sweaty little hand, and marched towards the house.
With every step, I could feel Grady slipping down my waist until he was dangling from the armpits. If I let go of Cade to adjust Grady, he would make a beeline for what would assuredly be the opposite of the direction we needed to go. So I hefted Grady as best I could, and dragged the three of us to the back gate. We have arrived!
The pool was alive with happy kids, chatting adults, and all sorts of summertime fun. My first instinct was “This is nice!” My second was “Crap. How on earth will I police both of them near the pool?” Instead of looking refreshing, the pool now looked like a glistening blue deathtrap. Cade saw his friends and took off running towards the water. Grady was still stuck under my arm like a sack of potatoes, so I hefted him again and chased after Cade.
Around and around the pool deck we went, dangling feet over the edge, plucking flowers and throwing them into the pool (apologies, Altbergers), and stealing pretzels from other moms’ goodie bags. One ice cream sandwich and a meltdown later I admitted defeat. I wrestled both boys into new diapers and dry clothes and we headed back to the car the way we came: bags slung over shoulder (now wet and dripping down my back), Cade in hand, Grady hefted like a Thanksgiving turkey.
When I got home, my husband asked me how it went. I made some kind of face that meant exhausting/overwhelming/I don’t want to talk about it.
To which he lovingly replied, “I told you it was a bad idea.”
I often had to navigate things with my kids and sans other half. Thank goodness for pool floaties is all I can say. And boy does it help if others around you are helpful