Thursday, October 21, 2010

I Can't Take You Anywhere!

(This is long, and mostly therapeutic, but you're welcome to read along with me on my journey of self-discovery!)

I hate it when other people see me struggle.

A few weeks ago, we went back to Kansas for our college homecoming. I wanted to get together with my college roommates, so we decided to meet for dinner. We chose a sit-down Mexican restaurant ... and I'll admit, I chose the location, because our track record had been pretty good lately, and the girls had been happy all day. I took the twins with me, and Tony went out separately with a friend of his. At the restaurant, we were given a corner booth and two highchairs. I should have asked to move immediately, because the high chairs wouldn't really fit near the table. The twins were happy in the beginning, and I had plenty of snacks, but it was a late supper for them, and as we sat, they started to reach their limit. When we ordered, I asked for a cup of tomatoes to tide them over until our food arrived, but maybe my voice was lost in the screeching, because the tomatoes never came.

I asked for booster chairs, thinking that it would make the corner booth situation a little easier, but booster chairs don't have seat belts, so the girls (very vocally) thought they should probably be released from their cruel imprisonment and be allowed to play. I pulled out every snack, toy, and distraction from the diaper bag, while peering over the pile of discarded distractions on the table to try to see my friends, who were mostly staring at us and trying to decide whether to smile encouragingly or swear off having children.

Meanwhile, Tony and his friend came to the restaurant. Tony planned to pick up the girls and take them home while I finished catching up with my friends. However, the food hadn't arrived, so they joined us and chatted while we waited.

As time ticked on, and our food was apparently being imported directly from Mexico, the noise and activity level from the girls was gaining momentum. Not only were they separately hungry and tired of sitting still, they were also more than happy to contribute to each others' protests. We were definitely starting to get glances from other tables, although I want to believe that they were forgiving. Tony and I were trying to smile and speak kindly, because kids feed off of others' emotions, which will only make it worse. (Believe me, though, I was stressed, and I'm sure my roommates know me well enough to have seen through my facade.)

Suddenly, Tony's friend had had enough. "Come on, Tony, let's take the twins outside." I decided I could use some fresh air, too, so Tony and I took the girls out to use their energy until the food came. Really, I wanted to cry. I wanted to say to my childless friends, it's not this bad all the time. In fact, it's not EVER this bad. We're not bad parents who can't control their children, I promise. And until you've experienced it, please don't make judgments.

I'd like to tell you that things got better, but they didn't. By the time the food arrived, the girls were too wound up to eat. Tony ended up leaving with them pretty quickly.

Later, as I was replaying the debacle with Tony, I asked him if we should stop having children. I mean, we obviously can't even control the two that we have, so why in the world should we have more? His response: "No, but we may have to stop eating at restaurants without a play place for a few years."

It's as simple as that. We'll make adjustments to fit this crazy life that we've been given. Looking at the situation from that perspective, I'm embarrassed that I was selfish enough to even ask the question. I'm also embarrassed that I let one stressful situation cloud my perspective on life. I love that guy. (And I still love my kids.)


Anne said...

I feel your pain, Heather. We too, have decided that "sit down" restaurants are for date nights and not family nights with the kids. :) Unfortunately our family night out meals consist of fast food restaurants (which we often take home because it's EASIER) or ordering a pizza. But don't worry, I'm sure anyone who was in that restaurant who HAS kids knows and feels your pain. :)

Jenia said...

Be encouraged Heather! You are not along, 1/2/3 kiddos at any age and we have all had this scenario :) Don't give up on your sit down dinners, you can do it and so can your girlies!!

Jaime said...

I think you are describing a scene that every parent (whether of twins or just one) has experienced! One dining experience will be great and the next will be bad. It definitely depends on the speed of service, time of day, etc. Don't give up! Oh, and it gets way easier when they get just a little older. My 2-year-old is now a great person to take on a dining out date, while my 1-year-old just entered that difficult phase!

Abby said...

Oh Heather, I so understand! We've had our share of dining out disasters. But I agree with Jaime, it does get better when they're just a little older. We're actually in a good phase right now...Calla's no problem at all, Hudson is pretty good too (as of a few months ago) and Boulder's too little to cause trouble yet. :)

I'm still learning not to worry about what others think (that's hard!) and having my own kids has definitely helped me be less judgmental of other parents!

Thanks for sharing!

JoAnna said...

I'm really late in commenting on this, but I wanted you to know that it was this particular post that encouraged me to be more vulnerable and open about my frustration in my role as a parent. So thank you for sharing everything that you do--I love reading your blog. :) (And thank you SO much for all your helpful comments on my blog lately. It's definitely mom-advice I take to heart.)