Yesterday we drove from the Seattle-ish area to Clackamas County, Oregon to visit my husband's grandma. Ryan slept the whole way and Jacob nearly talked our ears off. If we knew his nonstop chatter would eventually turn into nonstop complaints about being bored and hungry and thirsty and tired, we would not have complained.
Then we arrived at grandma's house and we discovered a whole new kind of adventure. Ryan was on a quest to chew through the cords of grandma's oxygen tank. I was, no joke, pulling the clear plastic cords out of his dragon-like jaw every five minutes. When I wasn't prying Ryan's teeth from the oxygen tank cord, I was keeping Jacob from knocking over Grandma's table which showcased her half-completed 1,000 piece puzzle. There were several near misses and each time my heart stopped as I imagined the hell that would ensue if we had to track down every one of those 1,000 pieces out of grandma's thick, orange shag carpet. Ryan probably would have helped by putting several of them in his mouth. When we removed the children from the dining room, thereby seperating them from their respective temptations, Jacob decided it would be awesome to play with grandma's flashlights, turn on her air conditioner, try to stick his fingers in her fan, and practice Olympic swim diving by jumping off of grandma's furntiture.
After trying to keep the kids rounded up and entertained for several hours within a small area surrounded by fragile objects, I decided that I would invest in two pint-sized straight jackets before our next trip.
After our visit, we swung by Portland to visit the zoolight display at the Oregon Zoo. It, in every way possible, was quite a zoo! We somehow survived waiting in line for over an hour in 39 degree weather during which time Ryan decided that he did NOT want to wear a hat. So we played an hour long game of...Ryan Takes Off His Hat and Mommy Forcibly Places the Hat Back on His Head.
Unfortunately, I had completed a 20 oz bottle of water during our drive to the zoo. Minute 49 of waiting outside in the freezing cold with a near-bursting bladder, I resigned to answering nature's call in the woods behind one of the zoo shuttle busses. Of course, that sole private area had to also be the home of expertly hidden prickly bushes. It was not my favorite moment of the day.
Finally, we got inside the zoo where we, desperately cold, waiting another 15 minutes for hot cocoa. All of that waiting led to a 40 minute waltz around the zoo before we rushed back to the car for warmth.
I didn't get that many pictures. My hands were too cold!
After yesterday's adventures, I was hoping today would be more relaxing and laid back. The kids, per usual, had other plans. The morning started with some friends stopping by to visit. Then we ran to Target to return some poor quality gifts from Santa (tsk tsk, you elves!). I explained to Jacob that when we return toys to Target, Target sends them back to Santa at the North Pole and gives us giftcards from Santa to buy new toys. Thankfully, he was so excited to pick out a new toy that he didn't ask too many questions.
By the end of today, I was grumpy and exhausted. There were so many times this weekend when I thought Jacob was going to make me lose it. I swear that 85% of this weekend was spent threatening time-outs and following through on those threats. I swear I am going batshit crazy.
At one point this weekend, someone said to me, "You have two kids and a full time job. I don't know how you do it." I thought about going off on a rant about how my house is an absolute mess. How we are frequently eating leftovers and frozen pizza. How the dirty and clean laundry sits in piles all over my house for a week before it ever gets put away. How I easily lose my temper and scream at the drop of a tantrum. Fortunately, I caught myself before I could go off on a soliloquy about how hard my life can be. Instead, I just smiled and said, "How do I do it? Simple. I DON'T."
Based upon occassional comments from friends and family members, I guess people often assume I have my life perfectly together (or maybe they are just being nice...). I will admit, I am very blessed. I have a great lawyer job, a husband who also works, a home, two kids, etc. But even when I seem "put-together," the reality is so different from the outward facade. If only people could spend one weekend with me. One weekend precisely like this past weekend. They would see how crazy things can be.
But luckily, my days are never truly all bad, or even all good for that matter. The reality is, there is always some goodness in a rough day and some badness in a perfect day. This is necessary. It's how we learn to adapt and be flexible. To be grateful and discerning. And....this was true even this past weekend.
Randomly, during the moments I though I would explode, I'd suddenly catch Jacob giving Ryan a kiss. Or singing Ryan a song. Or picking up his toys without asking. These little glimmers of sweetness are the only things keeping me from running out of the house, repeatedly throwing myself against a wall, or guzzling pitchers full of Costco Ready-Made margarita mix.
At the end of today, an especially trying and exhausting day, I put the kids in the bath. As I was getting ready to wash their hair, eagerly looking forward to their bedtimes, they started to play. My clenched jaw slackened and a smile spread across my face. Jacob was filling his mouth with water and spitting it out in a steady stream across the bathtub. Ryan was giggling hysterically. Then Ryan would reach up to grab Jacob's mouth causing Jacob to laugh and dribble water all over himself. This made Ryan laugh louder. Suddenly, they were crawling all over each other, sharing toys, and laughing. Before I knew it, I was exhaling deeply and joining in their laughter.
Those are the moments that make all the roughness, exhaustion, worry, and frustration that comes with being a parent seem so small.