Surrounding me in life right now are some friends who are worth their weight in gold. Friends who are amazing and who completely inspire me. Friends who I want to spend as much time as possible with, go on double dates with our husbands, have many playmates with our children, and learn from their incredible strengths as much as they will let me.
But lately (this past week was especially bad), every time I receive a text from one of these awesome friends along the lines of "Hey! Let's hang out this afternoon!" or "Free adventure with the kids today. You in?" or "Playdate and lunch in town?" I type back a super lame excuse about why that won't work for us that day. Most of these excuses cite something about messing with nap time or much needed grocery time or recovering still from our last adventure- a week or so ago. Super lame stuff.
And I have been feeling bad about my excuses and turning down of adventures. I have been feeling guilty about turning friends down for opportunities for getting out there, taking life by the horns, and having an awesome day with my kids. I feel even worse knowing that this beautiful weather is on a short timer, and soon feet of snow will pile up outside our houses and force us all to hibernate our social lives for a few (dozen) months.
So why? Why am I being a recluse? Why am I being rude to my friends and avoiding getting together? Why do I say no?
It's simple, really. And it makes me sound like a ginormous whiner with no backbone or ability to "get things done." It makes me sound like a blogging cliche. Ready for it?
The truth is, dear friends, it's not you. It's totally me.
The truth is- it is freaking hard to leave the house these days. So, so, so, hard. A sandwich of hard filled with the jelly of difficult.
I don't know if it's just because Addison still needs me to do everything for her and care on the top end of my children hasn't peetered down to more self care- or if it's just the nature of having 3 small children with the smallest still being under a year. I don't know if it's because it is IMPOSSIBLE to find 3 pairs of tiny matching socks and 3 tiny pairs of matching shoes and pin down 3 wriggling balls of "got into a mess while you were doing this with the sibling" to put these matching sock and shoes on- not to mention complete outfits that mysteriously disappear in a flurry of giggles after I have already laid them all out.
I don't know if it's because potty training has given my children waaaaay too much power. "Hey mom! I know you just finished the marathon called dressing us all and you are holding car keys and are opening the front door holding the baby in the car seat, but I'm going to sit here on the potty for 45 minutes and read this book while I tell you I have some business to do when I really don't at all! I love how much power potty training has given me!!!" type of thing.
I don't know if it's because my children are insane and if I turn my back for a minute to do selfish things like find clothes for myself to wear that day, Carter has climbed to high heights, located the hydrogen peroxide, and is pouring it into a 3/4 full jar of Costco strawberry jelly. And then I have to call poison control because I'm just not sure if he encouraged them all to take sips of it first. (fyi- if your child drinks hydrogen peroxide- they will just throw up. Vets often use it to get animals to throw up if they have eaten something they weren't supposed to eat.) And then while I'm on the phone with poison control, someone will walk over to an outlet that they have passed a million times without touching and all of a sudden decide to shock themselves so that the next ten minutes are spent soothing a crying little girl who is so upset that she can't tell me where she's hidden everyone's clothes that she pre-licked with a mouth still dirty from breakfast.
I don't know if it's just that I'm so severely outnumbered that gathering up my brood to head out the door, clothed, poison and electric shock free, pottied up, fed, and ready to Adventure with friends- feels a bit like juggling water in my bare hands.
I don't know if it's the fact that once we actually go out of the house- there has to be a very specific plan of how all 3 children will be managed for the outing. The triple wagon is preferred- because everyone needs a buckle, a seat, a cup holder, and their own snack bag that can't be grabbed by another sibling. If a child is NOT buckled, they will walk like an angel for the first two minutes, and run away like a wild animal on a caffeine and sugar high (note: my children are never allowed caffeine and are a limited sugar diet. but they still act this way. every.time. Carter especially has an evil side that comes out as soon as he is buckle free. Ask me how I know this. Just.ask.me.) If we adventure somewhere where they are grocery carts- I have to have a double cart or it is a no go. If we adventure somewhere where the wagon won't fit well through winding slender halls (cough cough Dartmouth medical facility) or somewhere were the ground is super bumpy or steeply downhill- it makes it very difficult to maneuver. Not to mention- once we are out and about, my ability to do time outs and keep my children in line is greatly cut back. Outnumbered with 3 misbehaving children means…we sometimes barely make it home in one piece. And sanity is sacrificed along the way. And when we arrive home, I often don't even like my children anymore. (I prefer to like my children. It makes life easier.)
Add in necessary potty breaks, Addison's school drop off/pick up schedule, and the absolutely necessary outings that drain us completely before the fun has even started (ahem grocery shopping)- my adventure radar is very low. Extremely low. So low that we walk out to the deck, have a glass of water, and I ask the kids "Isn't this a FUN ADVENTURE!!!" just to help set the bar super low.
If we have a free morning without school for Addison- without responsibility- and without necessary outings, are we good to go then? Um…I have a secret for you. Those are the BEST mornings for EARLY NAPS all around! And then I get 3 hours of beautiful, blessed silence to sit and do awesome things like…blog, or read a book, or sketch out an actual menu before that afternoon's grocery trip. I know. I am spoiled. So spoiled. Especially since these low key mornings involve the super pampering activity of scrubbing floors- or folding laundry. It's like a mommy vacation. Not to mention, if I can take a morning without having to locate 3 pairs of matching SOCKS and SHOES and seasonally appropriate CLOTHES? I take it. I take it every time. Sleepers are my best friend. (Just check my Instagram feed.)
This week I had to take all 3 kids to Dartmouth for Addison's appointment with her tonsil/adenoid surgeon. I had to take them alone. It is an 1 1/2 drive. It was a long appointment followed by x-rays that she needed before her surgery. It took me the rest of the week to recover. Seriously. It was a week from tomorrow but I think I'm still recovering from the outing. Alone. With all 3 of my beautiful children. It might be a month before we are ready again for an adventure. Maybe two months.
So there you have it. I am a wimp. A mommy wimpy that needs weeks to recover from outings, and hesitates very strongly to schedule new ones. A mommy who loves outings if Daddy is home to help/go with us, but who isn't always up for it on her own. A mommy who loves her children VERY dearly, but often finds herself maxed out just to get her daughter to school, to the doctor, and to buy food to put into 3 bellies that constantly seem to be demanding more.
I have systems. I lay things out the night before. I plan. I get better and better and wrangling 3 children and getting them clothed and safely buckled into the car. But there are so many variables involved in that that I can't control, that I often say "no" to extraneous outings (especially when naps might be affected.) I want to hang out. I really, really do. And hopefully soon this won't be so hard to cross over the threshold of my door to freedom. Hopefully soon it won't be so.freaking.hard. to leave my house. I dream of this day.
It's not you. It's me. I love you dearly. I promise.
The Mommy Wimp
I think the thing that get me is- I know so many moms who are AWESOME at adventures with their kids. Who get out of the house frequently just to have FUN. I wish I was this kind of mom. But I'm not. I know this about myself, and I do my best to keep things running smoothly around here. This means sometimes saying "no". When we have a lighter week- we can fit in more extra. But when the extra becomes too much? It is the first thing to go.
I am very thankful for Facebook, texting, email, and early bedtimes when Daddy's home and I'm able to escape for a few hours. I am very thankful for the chance to maintain friendships the best I can.
Oh, and no doubt you are feeling sorry for my poor, adventure-less kids right now. Don't. They have an awesome life. We have gotten really good at making adventures and fun out of daily activities. We have reading time, singing time, art time, they are learning to help with housework, and they have become great at playing within and exploring our little space here. Plus- just the other morning we did a super fun science experiment with Hydrogen Peroxide and jelly (!).
So tell me. Do you adventure out a lot with your kids? What's your secret for getting things to run smoothly and everyone to have fun? What's your secret to leaving your house? Tell me everything.