Here are some metaphors to help describe where I currently find myself in this particular season of parenting:
I am a soldier at boot camp, army-crawling through the glop and mud, thinking about my next meal, and if I’ll have to eat it standing up (probably).
I’m doing more damage control on a daily basis than the producers behind Roseanne and Samantha Bee combined.
I am Britney Spears the day she decided to shave her head.
Mmm kay, now that we got that out of the way. Disclaimer: this essay probably isn’t for anyone who isn’t comfortable talking about ALL aspects of parenting – the good, the bad and the ugly. If you’re more comfortable with highlight reels, this is not that. Cool? Cool.
But really, it’s either this or the Britney Spears buzz cut. And I still kind of like my hair. So here goes.
Yesterday, in a desperate attempt to do something to get myself and my children out of the house (because we’re thriving here on day 5 of summer vacation), I decided we’d all load into the car and head to Costco. Yay! After circling the parking lot approximately 17 times, we found a parking spot. We then made our way into the store with Jude in the front of the cart, Anderson in the big area, only mildly threatening to push each other out. I cut my normal item count of around 50 items, down to around 7 for the sake of all of our sanity.
I did not do my best planning with the timing of meals on this particular day, so we decided – for the first and last time – to try the Costco Food Court. This started with me finding a way to weave the world’s most enormous shopping cart filled with snack food and two grabbing, clawing, shrieking wild children through a sea of hungry child-less people to a little kiosk where I could (conveniently!) order our food.
Time was of the essence so I quickly selected a cheeseburger, slice of pizza and smoothie from the order touch screen. This was going to be the best lunch ever. A few minutes later I collected our food from a man SCREAMING the order number into my ear (it was #45; I will never forget it.) and pushed our huge cart over to a table that a woman was just leaving.
There was a rather muscular man still sitting there who didn’t know enough about our situation to say no when I asked if we could join him. Yay number two! Why Costco positions napkins, condiments, straws, napkins, forks, and NAPKINS SO FAR AWAY from the table where people actually have to sit and contain their children is truly beyond me. Our “meal” went like this:
*Jude and Anderson mock-sword fighting and nearly knocking each other off the plastic bench seating every 2 seconds
*Me dashing as quickly as I possibly could back and forth across the room to grab huge quantities of napkins and praying my kids didn’t injure each other or start a food fight in my absence.
*Me standing in between them hunched over devouring half a burger as fast as humanly possible while Jude runs the red pizza grease-covered palms of his hands alllll over allll of his clothing. I am single-handedly keeping the company that makes Shout stain remover in business.
*Me dashing back for more napkins, probably working up a sweat by now (totally intentional half marathon training!).
*Andersons and Jude fighting over a nearly-erupting smoothie while the man next to us continues to watch loud videos on his phone inclusive of both song and dance.
Right then and there I decided, this is it. THIS is what rock bottom, losing-my-mind parenting young logic-less children looks like. It actually LOOKS LIKE the Costco Food Court.
We (I) limped to the car and loaded our bulk-sized snacks and bite-sized children into the car. I then promptly texted my husband and a commiserating friend: “I just went to Costco and the Costco food court by myself with both kids and I think it’s truly one of the craziest things I’ve ever done in my whole entire life.”
On the way home, my sanity long since abandoned somewhere between the parking lot and the food court, my kids thought they would make sure I was still paying attention by launching books and shoes throughout the car while I drove. In that instant it dawned on me that young children are like prisoners: they cannot be trusted and will turn anything into a weapon.
We got home and I knew the rest of the day would be cake in comparison….so there was that.
So happy summer everyone. I promise I won’t be a downer EVERY DAY, but for now, you’ll find me and my kids making a sort of triangle in our living room, each on our respective devices, reading and watching garbage truck videos respectively, because KEEPING THE PEACE. There’s screen time, or there’s bald Britney. Pick your poison.