In the early days of motherhood, going anywhere with my first born was anxiety inducing. Friends would call for lunch dates, play dates, coffee dates, and breezily say, bring the baby. Which would automatically make me go into a full blow panic attack. Cold sweat, upset stomach, shaky hands. Why on earth would anyone want me to leave the house? Had they seen me? I was a hot mess. Most days I didn't even change my clothes. I'd been known to wear the same yoga pants for three days. And people thought I could handle lunch? I could barely keep my head afloat let alone get a baby ready, myself ready, and then into the car. Just getting her to her well baby checkups was equivalent to moving a mountain in my book. So no, in the early days of motherhood, things like lunch, in a restaurant, just didn't happen.
What I didn't realize then was that, lots of people have children. Their children are either grown, or their children are still small. Whatever the case, most have sympathy and empathy for a new mom with a small child. Sure a screaming baby in a Starbucks or a Red Robin will get you all kinds of stares from all different types of people. Maybe they are stares of sympathy, like Oh, been there done that. Perhaps they stare because they are relieved they aren't the only one who has a crying baby. It took me years to realize that a crying baby in a restaurant isn't the worst thing in the world.
A rowdy three year old, a very hungry and whiny six year old, and a mom who is worried that the world is staring at her, can be worse. If you let it get to you.
It isn't so bad these days when the Crutchfields do lunch. I've learned over the years and multiple trips to restaurants that kids are kids. And I have to deal with it.
A couple of Saturdays ago, we (the four of us) stopped in at Elephant Bar for lunch. We were all hungry, as it was two o'clock. The Hubbs and I did the best we could to order appetizers and drinks to fill the kids bellies with something. Of course before we could order we had to take a potty break. Me and the two girls trying in vain not to touch the germy surfaces in the bathroom. Then once we ordered, it was a game of Tetris to fit all the appetizer plates, kids cups, and adult cups on the table without a spill. I was worried Mac would overturn her root beer and that Caitlin would over turn the plate of coconut shrimp. Then when they finally brought our lunch, we had to negotiate the table surface again.
And through it all my kids were loud. Climbing on the booth, climbing under the booth, and sometimes climbing out of the booth. Using their faux cry over crayons being lost in the dark abyss under the table. Whining over things like the bread on the corn dog they demanded for lunch. Asking for more fries, more soda, more more more. Thankfully the booth was tucked in a corner. Thankfully the restaurant by nature is dark. Thankfully the only one who actually spilled the dipping sauces was me.
Free sundaes on the kinds menu... LUCKIES!
In the old days, a lunch of this nature would have reduced me to tears. It would have made me feel out of control, like a failure, like I just couldn't get this mothering thing right. These days, lunch with the kids isn't as scary as it used to be. It's the same anxiety ride as it always was. The difference is that I'm way more relaxed. I still care about the occasional stares, but now I know better. They are not staring at me because I'm a bad mom, as I once thought. Now they stare at me because, simply, I'm a mom, with kids who are sometimes pretty good lunch dates.