Hi friends. So I have a mom confession.
Since Bobby was born in November, as a family we have been out and about a lot. When my husband is off, we love to go on outings to the zoo or Maymont or breweries. I hate being cooped up inside. I’m the annoying person who likes to go, go, go, who scours the city paper website for events, who always has ideas for things to do.
When I have someone to go somewhere with, I also love to go out. I’ll happily meet up with other mamas or with friends or with my own mom. If I have that comfort of a familiar face and extra set of hands in a pinch, I’m good to go.
If I only have one baby with me, I also have no qualms about heading out, particularly if that baby is Bobby (because an infant is about 5 million times easier than a toddler in public).
But, here’s my confession. When it’s just me, totally solo, when I have both babies, I have a really hard time working up the guts and motivation to leave the house.
I’ve done it, a few times. We have made it out to the park and playground. We’ve even gone to the grocery store once (that was a not the best idea). But to be totally honest, there have been far more days where I’ve planned an outing, had it formed in my mind, gotten everything ready, and then abandoned ship at the last moment and decided to stay home instead.
I knew having two babies under two would be hard, but I don’t know if I was fully prepared for the logistical challenge of two kids this close in age. And it really does come down to logistics.
Every time I want to leave the house by myself, here are the things I have to line up:
-Bobby’s feeds. Did I just feed him? Will we be home in time for the next feed? If not will I be somewhere I can give him a bottle or nurse him while Ryland is safe and contained (so like a playground would be out for nursing or a park, because if she ran off into the woods, which she loves to do, I’d have to go chasing after her with Bobby hanging off my boob). If I can’t nurse, do I bring thawed breastmilk? If I do that I need a cooler. But I also need to plan it so that I take the breastmilk out with plenty of time to come up to room temperature so he’ll take it. And what if he doesn’t take it? (which does happen frequently). Then what’s my back up?
-Bobby’s poops. This one sounds ridiculous, but I swear you guys, I don’t know if this is a boy thing but when this kid poops it is an up the back, down to the toes EXPLOSION , every single time. He has not pooped in a contained way in weeks. No diaper can control it. When he goes (which is usually only every 3-4 days thank goodness), it is a poo tsunami. His clothes will be covered. Whatever he is sitting in will be covered. Whoever he is sitting on will be covered. So if Bobby hasn’t pooped in a few days, and I know one is coming, it gives me serious pause about bringing him out in public alone, because having to deal with a poo tsunami while also keeping an eye on Ryland is not the easiest thing to wrap my head around (I guess I just let her run around the public bathroom, but if there’s not a family bathroom she tends to be scared of the big communal bathrooms because of the hand driers, so she’ll likely end up screaming while I’m trying to change the poop monster and possibly also wash myself off in the sink).
-Ryland’s poops (I really don’t think I fully appreciated how much of motherhood would revolve around my children’s bowel habits). Has she gone yet? If not, I’ll need to have something to put Bobby in while I change her if she does go. It’s really hard to change a toddler’s diaper with a baby in the carrier, so I’ll either need to have the stroller or car seat available.
-Both of their naps.
-Snacks/meals/drinks. When did Ryland eat last? When will she want to eat? What can I bring to feed her easily and with minimal mess? How do I keep it cool? Where do I put it?
-Where do I put these darn children? I swear it can feel like a puzzle every time I sit down and try to think what the best situation will be for us. Do I bring the single stroller that Bobby’s car seat clips into and let Ryland walk? Do I bring the double stroller but then have to take Bobby in and out of his carseat (which stinks if he has fallen asleep in the car). Do I go no stroller but have Bobby in the baby carrier? Do I do a single stroller with Ryland in it and Bobby in the carrier? Ryland in the tricycle (because she’s more likely to stay happy in it) and Bobby in the sling? I go through these options and none of them ever seem quite right, and finally I just pick one, and inevitably it ends up not working (like today when I didn’t bring Bobby’s carrier to the playground. Such a rookie move! I ended up having to lug his heavy carseat all over the playground while I tried to keep up with Ryland)
-How do I bring all the stuff? There’s always SO MUCH STUFF, and the diaper bag doesn’t work with the double stroller. Do I bring a backpack? That works most of the time, but if I go the baby carrier route the backpack is awkward? Do I leave it in the car? How far will we be from the car? Can I easily get both kids back there if someone has an accident or needs something?
And on and on and on the crazy logistics train goes. And I know this is not normal-seeming for most people, but I have to hope most mothers can relate? Right? Anyone? Bueller?
So I get myself all worked up with the planning, and before we can even get to the door I tend to feel defeated by all of the details. And of course, because I’m insane, I also have run through every possible worst case scenario in my head and assume both babies will lose their minds, poop and pee and maybe even vomit through every article of clothing, refuse all food and snacks and bottles, and I will be alone with two naked, poop covered, screaming, starving babies in the middle of the woods.
It’s insane. I know it is. But my only justification for this neuroses is that when it comes to companions, you can’t get more unpredictable or uncontrollable than a 2-year-old and a 5-month-old. I can’t reason with either of them. I can’t even really bribe either of them. I am at the mercy of both of their wills and moods, and that total lack of control is daunting (particularly if you are a control freak like me).
So often, even if it’s a beautiful day, even if every part of me wants to get out and be that adventurous and spontaneous mom, I talk myself out of it. We end up playing in the yard or watching a movie. And then I feel disappointed in myself and vow to get out the next day. And then the vicious cycle repeats.
I know this is just a phase. I know once they both are older, when Bobby isn’t nursing, when I don’t have to always worry about where to put him when we’re out, it will get easier (in some ways, I realize that two toddlers in public are not exactly a cakewalk).
I also know I need to worry SO much less about what other people think, because this is a huge and incredibly stupid reason that keeps me from leaving the house. Yes, I worry about the worst case scenario with both babies losing their minds. I worry Ryland will swan dive into a fountain and Bobby will scream. But more than anything, I worry about what random strangers will think of me when these things happen. I don’t want to see that “look” you know? The pitying, oh that mother is SO in over her head look, the she needs to teach her children to behave better look. I don’t want people to see me and think I’m a basket case, which is nuts, because well, I am a basket case half the time. I have two babies! How could I not be?
I’m 32, and I really should not care what random people think about me. I don’t want to raise my kids to think that matters.
So basically this confession is my long-winded way of saying that I’m going to try to change, to not let fear of random stranger judgment or meltdowns or poop tantrums keep me inside (okay poop tantrums will always scare me a little). No matter how much I plan, no matter how much I sort through the logistics, sometimes it is all going to still fall apart. Sometimes I am going to have to drag a shrieking toddler out of a public water fountain while my baby wails from his car seat. Sometimes my baby is going to refuse a bottle, then refuse to nurse under a blanket, so I’m going to have to let it all hang out and have mean old people stare at me like I’m doing a public pole dance routine.
Some days I’m going to forget water for my toddler and happen to run into our pediatrician at the playground (like, ahem, today, when it was 85 degrees and sunny out….)
I’m going to fail. But I really want to try to stop caring so much about those failure moments, particularly about what other people think about them. I have two babies two and under. We’re going to be a trainwreck in public, frequently. And you know what, that’s okay. That’s life.
It’s springtime out, and I think I’m ready to get out of the darn house already 🙂