Posttraumatic Outings with Tots

children two under under

It had been an eventful morning. Shoot, it has been an eventful last six months. You see, as a classic extrovert, I tend to go a little stir crazy without human interaction and blab my head off to unsuspecting victims (I mean friends) when faced with periods of adult conversation draughts. So I LOVE outings and need to get out of the house… and I HATE and FEAR getting out of the house.  

The problem is, I have two children — a baby and my 2-year-old daughter tends to have complete hysterical meltdowns about 75% of the time we attempt to venture into public. So I knew today (as always) the odds just weren’t ever in my favor. And yet I persist. 

That morning as I soothed a hungry baby and captured a naked screaming toddler that still needed to be clothed and diapered, visions of my recent outings with kids danced in my head. They taunted me. Little Land, Catch Air, the Aquarium, splash pads, music class, countless playdates. God forbid I even try to run a non-kid oriented errand. My anxious quick shallow breaths take over as I sort through my post traumatic outing flashbacks. Self trained to mentally stop, breath deeply and count silently to ten as if preparing for battle. Because y’all, I am. I really really am. 

With toys thrown about and drawers torn apart, screams and cries filled the air. Our fort (ahem I mean home) was beginning to resemble a war zone, and I had to escape. So I packed up my troops to face the trenches of the ever dreaded toddler and baby outing.

What unsuspecting venue was my clan invading this lovely morning…? None other than my favorite notoriously crunchy coffee shop (consider us birth control for hipsters) to settle in afterwards at a nearby pond, and onto a local toy store. Sounds like SO much fun right? Go ahead and laugh out loud.  

So I hold my breath and my toddler’s hand as I quickly (as possible… aka… not quickly) push baby in the stroller through narrow doorway of Epoch Coffee while sandwiching my entire body as door opener so that the three of us can clumsily cross the threshold into cool local hangout.  We stick out like a sore thumb. Just walking through a doorway seems like more effort than it is worth. I proceed to apologetically order a couple of breakfast tacos and a coffee from the nice lady at the counter, while glancing over at my daughter, holding my breath, and waiting for the bomb to explode. Nothing. OK. Cool. We are still OK. 

I proceed to the counter. “Mommy. Up. Up. Up.” Then I pick her up as the barista calls out, “Your coffee.” Hmmmm… Breakfast tacos and toddler in right arm. Stroller in left hand. Crap.  The coffee? How do I hold the coffee? And why do I always forget that I only have two hands? 

No biggie. I just need to put my toddler down, right? Well, actually that will be a VERY big deal.  I put her down and grab the coffee. Cue loudest scream EVER.  And then I book it to the back door, knowing my toddler is running behind me screaming “MOMMY!!!!!” Mom. Of. The. Year.

Are you doubting my escape strategy? Well the back door was a mere 30 feet from me. So I could stop everything and spend the next 30 minutes trying to console my toddler, explaining to her why mommy was only born with two arms and hands, and she actually CAN walk while baby brother CANNOT. Or, I could run out the door and let the tantrum be almighty but brief.  Therefore, I went with option “B.”   

As I clumsily sprinted out the door, a seemingly kind lady commented, “Oh poor thing. Rough day?” She meant well. But truth be told it wasn’t a particularly “rough” day.  “Nope.” I quickly returned. “This is just us. Every day. Everywhere.”  And with that, as quickly as the tornado appeared into these unknowing strangers’ lives, it (we) were gone. 

Oh what was I thinking?!  Well I was thinking, that at the most we would cause 5 minutes of chaos, but Mama would get caffeine (Need it. Want it. Deserve it.) Then my tot could have a chance to feed the fish in the accompanying outdoor pond where we could be outside and free to cause as much havoc as we want.  

And you know what? As soon as we were outside the tantrum dissipated. The sun beat down on the sweet face of my toddler as she happily exclaimed “Fish!” “Fish!” I held her brother and her while we ate breakfast. But most importantly, Mama got her coffee.

What’s the point? Don’t let the tantrums define the day. If we did, every day would be a “rough” day, and we might overlook all the beautiful moments.  Going anywhere with little bits can be a challenge. Oftentimes we hold our breath waiting for the storm to hit. 

Shoot. We are the freaking storm. For we interrupt innocent unsuspecting lives on a daily basis. But if we let the fear of the effort, challenge, and potential embarrassment or inconvenience to others rule every action, we would never take our families ANYWHERE. And then?  Well then I would have missed that incredible moment where my daughter gave me a glistening smile, clapped her hands, and exclaimed proudly “I fed the fish!” Now granted she DID feed the fish her ENTIRE breakfast taco, but that’s a story for another day. 

Courage is feeling the fear and proceeding anyways. So Mama go get yourself that cup of Jo from your favorite hipster hangout with those children two and under, proceed with those child-centered havens (that can feel a bit more like hell at times), and schedule those playdates where your kids don’t play and you can’t hear yourself talk or think because… well because those sunlit moments are invaluable and worth all the tears and screams you sacrifice your sanity for. 

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3 Responses to Posttraumatic Outings with Tots

  1. Charlotte Howard July 25, 2017 at 4:30 pm #

    Courage is so important and thank you for what I am sure so many moms are feeling! It really resonates with a lot of individuals I know and you’re right you should never let the tantrum define the day, move on with a positive mindset.

  2. Jordan July 26, 2017 at 7:29 am #

    This made me laugh out loud (and also Amen a few times). Thank you so much for sharing such an honest, but also encouraging perspective! “Don’t let the tantrums define the day.” Gonna have to write that down 🙂

  3. Hannah July 27, 2017 at 7:47 pm #

    What a true post. I have had many of these moments with my kids too but it’s true we just have to go with the flow and not let the tantrums ruin our days.

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