Once upon a time….
There was a birthday party of a person who shall remain nameless and it was one and a half hours away. At this time I was a single mom of two kids under the age of five (15 months apart, no judging, I did not do that on purpose) and I had just started dating a man for the first time in years. The man helped out a lot with the kids and I hated it.
I’d been living with my parents for years for reasons that will also go unnamed and despite living there I did a lot of the heavy lifting of parenthood. Don’t get me wrong, my parents helped me in ways I can’t imagine. I’m not sure what I’d have done if they hadn’t offered to open their home to me and my two kids. In fact, I’m sure I couldn’t have ever left my ex husband without their support.
Enter this man that helps me and does things with the kids.
On one hand, yay! Help! On the other I had taught my kids from day one that I was enough. I could take this on and take care of them and we didn’t need anyone. So on the aforementioned birthday party day I assured myself I could travel the one and a half hours, one way, attend the party filled with children and screaming and cake and balloons and then drive home. I told myself I didn’t need help at all and I had survived this long without a mans help and could continue to do so. You know, basically I told myself I was Wonder Woman.
That day I prepped my mom van with all the things needed, extra clothes, snacks, DVDs, books, toys. The whole day was a trial by fire. Both kids were in rare form and I handed out bottom busters and time outs all morning. We left in the afternoon and got there a bit early. The whole trip was torture. Potty breaks on roads trips with two kids are difficult and they consumed every snack available half way into the trip. Keep in mind the road traveled was one that required beside the road potty trips due to lack of civilization. A sippy cup leaked all over my girl child’s lap and car seat. No one took a leisurely nap on the way there as expected. Screaming, fighting, kicking as much as possible in a mini van second row bucket seat arrangement.
The party was sheer insanity. It was the largest birthday party I’ve been to ever in my whole life. Over one hundred people congregated in this families yard for this monstrosity of a gathering. When I say monstrosity, I mean, wow. This mom rented the rides that are commonly seen at festivals and had them set up. She had several inflatables larger than most people’s homes. It was quiet over the top to say the least. It was incredibly hard to spot two small kids in the chaos. It was also the dead of summer and sweat dripped constantly from everyone.
On the way home my two children began to sob and argue. Rough day, long trip there and home, higher than normal sugar consumption, heat exhaustion, all of it combined to me falling apart on the road. I called the man I was dating and sobbed uncontrollably bc I needed him too much. I needed help in all areas of my life and I didn’t know that until that moment. I was disappointed in myself.
Then I called my best friend and cried to her as well. When the kids began to fight I said to her in frustration, “I’m going to kill these kids”. My son who was five began screaming in terror, “WE’VE DONE IT NOW DREW! SHES GOING TO KILL US!” He starts unbuckling his car seat and can’t undo the buckle while screaming, “DREW, GET OUT OF YOUR SEAT, RUN, DREW, RUN” I say to my best friend, “I’m gonna need to call you back.”
I pull over, get out, walk to the back of the van and scream at the top of my lungs for a few seconds and kick the tires until my leg aches. Then I open my sons door and while he’s screaming, “HERE IT COMES. SHES GONNA KILL ME. DREW. RUN. DREW. RUN!” I look at Drew to find her swinging her legs and singing a song blissfully in her own world and unaware that her brother may or may not be having a nervous breakdown. Which, let me add, is a fairly accurate representation of their attitudes in almost every situation even now, 8 years later.
I explain to my son how I’m sorry I used that expression and how I’m sorry for the whole day and I’m sorry that I’m not enough and that I need help. Looking back at the whole thing I can’t think about it without laughing and feeling so clueless but at the time it was so stressful.
I did call my friend back and I didn’t laugh about it that day but when I told her what happened she laughed until she couldn’t breathe. She said she wished she had the whole fiasco on video so she could show other people.
She’s a mom now, so her days are coming.
And I married that man.