One of the ways I know I’ve become a parent, is that when I make plans for the day I count the number of stops and exits/entrances into the vehicle and therefore, carseats. The younger the child, the greater the chance that if it is more than one exit and entrance, I will forego the entire trip. A trip to the grocery store AND Target is equal to a cross country road trip on 3 tires, less than a quarter tank of gas, and no air conditioning in the middle of summer. It’s cute that you think I’m kidding. Oh friend, how I wish this were true.
My almost four year old is now a dream to travel and run errands with in general. This is a marked change from the days of yore, when all attempts to
straight-jacket strap him into his Britax seat of joy were met with extreme acts of violence and great gnashing of teeth, on par with those prophesied in the last days, I’m certain. Every time we had to go somewhere, the husband and I would look at one another and mentally do the calculations.
Christmas light viewing, Hot chocolate, and a visit with the grandparents? SIX entrances and exits. With two children, make that TWELVE. Four legs kicking, 20 fingers pinching, and two parents dodging, twelve different times. This easily could equal a trip to the emergency room (only one stop though, so silver lining.)
There is a way to get around this conundrum, and that is the outdoor/indoor mall- full of shopping, eating, play areas, and if you’re lucky, maybe even a doctor’s or dentist office. This is the one way to get to do many things, with only one entrance/exit. If I was in charge of designing a city, you would find every single possible activity in one shopping center. Sure, traffic into this one place would be hellish, but mothers and fathers of young children would rejoice with jubilance, that such a place had been created. There would also be public fountains that offered Dr. Pepper instead of water, and free Starbucks vending machines at every parking spot, but that’s neither here nor there, now is it? I just realized that my utopia is actually kind of a Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory for parents, and it should probably also include some sort of weight loss/Diabetes management center as well.
When we found out we were pregnant with our second bundle of joy, I’ll admit that the calculations were adding up in the hell calculator of my mind already. We had JUST started getting to the easy part of traveling with a child, and here we were, starting again. And let us not forget, the unadulterated joy that is the stiff back arch of a screaming child that has no desire whatsoever to sit. I’ve offered everything from pieces of string (like my baby was a cat. Which would be easier to get in a car seat.), my keys (which really hurt when pressed firmly into a knuckle, if you were curious.), bottles of sunscreen, cans of cat food (AGAIN, a cat would be easier.). You name it, I’ve tried it.
The good news is that my oldest child is proof it gets easier and less painful (THANK YOU JESUS.) I dream of a day when I no longer must mentally count the number of times I must fight the good fight to transport humans. One day, someone will say “Hey, want to go do EVERYTHING?” and I will say “YES. LET’S GO DO EVERYTHING.” And then, we will go, and we will do EVERY. THING.
And there shall be no more screaming, there shall be no more kicking, and yes, there shall even be no more pinching of the flesh on my hands when the front buckle clasps and I make no sound at all because I am just grateful that it is done.
I keep my gaze firmly planted on this horizon of hope, and it helps me press through another day, another trip, another buckle with pieces of me in the middle.
Have hope dear friends with littles, a new day will dawn.