The thing about being a mom (at least in my experience) is that suddenly, plenty of normal, everyday things become completely terrifying. This is very different, of course, from the legitimately terrifying experiences that occurred between the twins’ birth and their discharge from the hospital. I’m talking about the stuff that should be easy. Like, uh, leaving the house. Eating at a restaurant. Going on a trip. Being alone at home while your husband is away on a business trip. The kind of stuff you wouldn’t bat an eyelash at during your pre-baby days that now seem akin to, I don’t know, getting a root canal. Without anesthetic.
As the kids have gotten older and transitioned through all of the stages of babyhood, I’ve had to figure out how to do much of the stuff I’d really rather not do, usually by forcing myself against my will. I had to start leaving the house, so I booked lots of daytime appointments and forced myself to go to the grocery store and to meet other mothers out in public. In an attempt to not be a total recluse with kids who had no concept of social eating, I forced us to eat in places that weren’t our kitchen (hint: master the food court before you attempt a restaurant). We’ve gone to visit friends for the weekend here and there (brutal, brutal, brutal – at least one baby always gets sick!), and I’ve somehow managed to not lose my mind when Matt was away for two weeks for work. All of it still causes me to break out in a cold sweat, but I do it anyway, because I have to (and also because I am really, really good at being a hermit, and I need to desperately fight that tendency).
Our latest terrifying challenge has been the park. You guys, I hate the freaking park. It is a wide open space with lots of things my children can fall off of/scrape their knees and faces on/put in their mouths when I’m not looking. There is sometimes a splash pad, which is my own personal version of hell (“let’s go soak ourselves in freezing cold water and then cry the whole way home!!!”). And, of course, there are the invisible boogeymen just waiting in the bushes to abduct my children when I am not looking.
In my perfect playground fantasy (yes, I have one), I imagine myself totally calm, sitting relaxed on the perimeter, watching my children play and explore. Perhaps I am even having a real, proper conversation with another human being while this is occurring. Madeleine and Reid get to run around happily, and then they burn off all of their extra energy and then we go home and they take a nice, long nap.
Well, we’ve been to the park twice now. Two measly times, and yet, my goodness, the stress. Reid runs, except he isn’t very good at running. This morning he scraped both his knees, and smacked his head against the pavement. Madeleine finds the park overwhelming, with other children going here, there and everywhere, and becomes (understandably) agitated at having to constantly be carted around by mom because her brother is running off again. Into the splash pad. ALWAYS THE SPLASH PAD. Also, she really dislikes wearing her shoes.
I know that this is partially their age – almost-sixteen-months-and-newly-walking is a difficult time to try to exist in the world as a cohesive unit – and partially because there are TWO OF THEM, who never want to do the same thing at the same time. And yet, I really want to figure out the park. I would like to have that as an option. “Hey, what should we do today?” Future Me will ask. “Let’s go to the park!”
In these situations, I always wish I could hear what other moms are saying and thinking. Do they hate the park too? Do their kids come running back when they are called? Are they on the constant lookout for child molesters? Do their kids have bumps on their heads and scrapes on their knees and hate wearing their shoes?
One thing about having twins is that you don’t always know these things, because you don’t always do the same things that singleton moms do. It is SO MUCH EASIER to stay at home, contained, where things are safe. How are you supposed to keep two toddlers from killing themselves while they are running off in separate directions? Would it really be that bad to strap on a couple of baby leashes? (That’s bad, right?) And seriously, quit it with the homemade muffins and snacks, Other Moms. You are making me feel bad about myself.
We have another park attempt scheduled for this Friday, and naturally, I am dreading it. But, I am going to try really hard not to wimp out. Maybe it will be stressful and exhausting and maybe I’ll end up with even more prematurely grey hairs, but one of these days, we are going to conquer the park.
(Do they make bubble wrap helmets?)