Sounds like the title of a self-help book. I think that is what parenting is - a redefinition of your life. Say goodbye to staying up late and sleeping in. Hasta luego to going to the bathroom all by yourself and eating your food while it is hot. Au revoir to impromptu trips out with friends, never mind a quickie with the DH in the middle of the afternoon.
Let's take a moment to redefine picnic.
As you used to know it, is sounds wonderful. A red and white checked blanket spread out on the ground with all kinds of yummies in a wicker basket. Some food. Some beverages. Something sweet. Some chat. Maybe even a little nap under a tree in the heat of the day or quiet time with a book next to your partner.
The other day my friend Wendy and I decided to get together for lunch. She works in the construction industry as I did before I quit my job to be a stay at home mom. Some days she has difficult clients and likes a break from the stress of her day.
I like contact with the outside world. Other adults. I like getting out of my house. Sometimes all you seem to do at home is clean up a mess so they can make it a mess all over again. I have lots of books around so that my kids and I are surrounded in a print-rich environment. The book shelf is open so that I can stack books on both sides and it defines my daughter's "bedroom" area from the rest of the master bedroom. (We have 6 people living in a 3 bedroom house.) My daughter loves to look at books (YEAH!) which I encourage. She just isn't able to reshelve them easily. My son loves to stand in front of one side of the bookshelf and PUSH all the books out the other side. Then he chooses a book from the pile on the floor. I can only stand this chaos for a little while before I have to straighten them back up on the shelf. Mess begets mess. The books are not alphabetical or on the Dewey Decimal Point system but they are grouped in similar sections: Maisy books together top shelf, My First Little House Picture books larger shelf on right, board books on their the middle short shelf; you get the idea. And yes, life would be easier for me if I didn't care about grouping.... Time to get out of the house! Strap the kids in and off we go.
We eat in the showroom because there is a play area for the kids to play in which is great because maybe they will self-entertain for a minute while we have a chance to talk. Plus, the room isn't used by others on a regular basis and we can lock the door. I get a box of California rolls which Wendy, Ryan and I will eat but the restaurant forgets Cole's side order of steamed rice which is a bummer. Wendy volunteered some cheese from her stash upstairs which supplemented their meal nicely. I brought along our snack bag so there were graham crackers and Ritz for Cole to eat but it didn't seem very much like lunch for him. We brought the little kids' table and chairs for them over to sit beside our table. I spread out their little feast and they made a huge crumbly mess in just under a minute. There is the normal amount of getting up, cleaning, wiping, reminding and catering as with any meal with my kids.
Then Ryan requested one of the cheeses. Cole was happy with his string cheese so everything was fine. Well sort of. She was gobbling down the cheese like a mouse while Wendy and I were talking. I look over at her when she starts making some distress noises and she is drooling. Unusual since she is three and not teething. She tells me that the cheese is stuck. She is leaning over and spitting little bits of cheese on the floor, the table, her shoes.
Am I a good parent? Ready with a soothing voice to tell her it is okay and we'll get it out right away?
I am crackin' up! I can barely tell her it's going to be just fine, but she is laughing too so she is not traumatized (a lot) by this event.
We have been through this once before so I know what is going on. The cheese is stuck on the roof of her mouth. I have her get a sip of water which has no effect at all. She is trying to push it off the roof of her mouth with her tongue. I tell her to scrape the cheese off with her finger. She gets some out but not able to fix it completely. She is gagging a little bit at this whole thing. I stick my finger in there and get some out too. I take a break to wipe the tears from my eyes and grab more paper towels. I sneak a peek at Wendy and she is laughing at this whole episode, too. I thank god she has cats because she is familiar with hairballs. I figure this is just like that. Ryan gets her finger in there for another attempt and a chunk of cheese comes flying out. Projectile vomit made of cheese. Okay, maybe not exactly like hairballs. It hits the floor with a splat and I thank god for industrial grade carpet. I can barely stand up. I am saved because I have to get on the floor to clean it all up.
Ten minutes later, calm is restored. Everyone's hands , shirt, leggings and shoes are washed, the cheese has either been picked up or ground so fine into the berber that you can't see where any of it landed and the crumbs have been hoovered outta there. Wendy and I settle down for the rest of our picnic.