I was speaking with a colleague today about how difficult it can be to have small children and how much they can try your patience. Often, the stuff that makes it to the blog is the fun, entertaining, aren’t-they-so-cute stuff, but a lot of the time it’s just plain hard to have 2 small kids and be 2 full-time working parents, I don’t care how amazing you or your children are.
Case in point, our adventures with ice cream the other day.
I had a day off, put the kids in school so I could run errands, and told them that I’d pick them up early so we could get ice cream together, thinking it would be a fun idea.
We get to Little Man Ice Cream and the boy chooses chocolate with sprinkles in a flat cone. I get the girl strawberry with sprinkles and we sit down on a bench to eat. The girl is somewhat incredulous at being given a whole cup of ice cream all to herself, and proceeds to gorge herself with no attention to precision and globs of pink fly onto her raincoat. The boy is standing up, licking away at his cone, entirely content. I feel like a great mom having a great time with her great kids.
Then, it all goes to hell.
The sun goes behind the clouds, and the boy says, “Can we finish our ice cream at home? My hands are getting so cold!!” It seems reasonable enough, but I’ve forgotten that you can’t reason with a 22 month old. I tell the girl, “Let’s finish our ice cream at home,” while I take the cup out of her hands. She responds by screaming continuously. I try to pry the spoon out of her fist but it’s no use. It’s her only ice cream left and she’s not having it. I can’t pick up the livid toddler and carry her ice cream at the same time, so I give the cup to the boy (whose ice cream is now in a cup as well) and we start walking to the car.
As he walks with ice cream cups in hand, he trips and falls prostrate on the ground, scraping his palms on the sidewalk. Both cups tumble to the ground. He stands up and starts bawling while I try to console him with the fact that none of the ice cream touched the ground. Remember, the girl is now being carried like a battering ram and screaming her head off the entire time. The boy gets it together, still sniffling, and we get to the car where the girl proceeds to make her body as rigid as a board and refuses to get into her carseat. With no small amount of wrangling, I manage to strap her in, but I’m frazzled now and say to the boy, who is standing behind me, (and this, I’m not proud of) “I wish you could have just stayed there a few more minutes! She’s so upset now!!”
To which the boy starts wailing, “I’m SORRRRYYYY!!!!” and crying as loud as HE can, repeating “I’m sorry!” over and over. I get to experience screeching in surround sound.
Sigh. Two screaming kids and a guilt trip is not what I had had in mind. People are staring, too.
I turn around, give the boy a kiss, hug him and say, “I’m sorry. It’s okay–it was getting pretty cold. Tell you what–let’s go home, turn on the fireplace, and eat our ice cream by the fire where it’s warm and toasty.” This mollifies him and we put the ice cream into the cup holders in the back seat, where they fit perfectly.
At home, the girl hyperventilates in her high chair until she gets the ice cream in front of her and proceeds to demolish it and then lick the cup. The boy parks in front of the fireplace and eats the rest of his as well; peace is restored.
It all ended well, indeed, but there were a few moments in there where I just had to take deep breaths and do my best to remain calm, and even that I failed to do entirely. This post doesn’t even begin to cover the mad morning rush to feed/clothe/transport children and the reverse routine at night that we have on a daily basis. All of this to say that while it’s fun and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, it’s challenging too–and I’m well aware that many parents have it much tougher. I know that you, too, have a story of when you were not a particularly graceful parent under pressure, and I just want you to know that you are not alone.