It's not all hell.
Delaney likes to tell me, "You're a lucky mama because you have three kids!" I am lucky. They're three good kids. I've already gotten to where I feel like I've always had three kids, and can't imagine it any other way. Loading and unloading them on car trips is a carefully choreographed dance that is almost second nature to me at this point.
Today we went on our first outing more than 5 or 10 miles away from home, and lasting more than 2 hours. It was a trip to the Neuseway Nature Park and Planetarium 45 minutes away in Kinston, that a moms' Meetup group I belong to was hosting. I was worried about how it would go, especially if I needed to sit down and nurse Timmy, and needed the girls to stay put. When I mentioned this to my mom, she told me to talk to the girls beforehand about my expectations. She said that's what she always did with us growing up, and it worked because then we were prepared for things like that. Come to think of it, I believe I remember those talks on the way to somewhere. They may have involved threats.:) So I gave the girls a pep talk that went something like this: "As long as everyone listens to me, and stays with me, we're going to have a good time. But if anyone runs off -- Annie! -- we're going to have to go home. Understand?"
The girls were good listeners and it all went very smoothly. At first I thought it helped that they were both a little intimidated by the exhibits we saw when we walked into the little children's museum part of it. One was a gigantic mouth that I couldn't interest either of them into entering, and the other was a human heart that had a tunnel that went underneath the floor and came up somewhere else. Neither one of them would have anything to do with it. I tried to get them to go into the room that had traffic lights and things related to driving, but in order to get to it, they would have to walk past a human skeleton. Uh-uh.
I felt a little foolish but had to laugh at myself when I tried to follow the directions on one of the exhibits. It was a strange plastic contraption -- a canister at the bottom of a tube that went up and across the ceiling. The directions said something like, "Write a note on a piece of paper, and send it up through the tube, and wait for a reply." I wrote a note on the paper and said, "Watch this, Delaney." But I had no idea what to do with it! Finally an employee came over and showed me. It was something people used at the bank to make deposits. I think I remember sitting in the backseat watching my mom do that, but I've never used one of those things before. Do they still exist?
There was also a train ride, a show about stars that scared most of the little kids because it was dark, live animals to look at, and a huge playground. Then we had a picnic lunch and went home. It was nice, and also laid-back and low budget. That made it easier for me too.
Later today, I packed the three of them up for a special trip to Walgreens to find something Tim wanted in a care package. I wandered the aisles, which I'd forgotten are chock-full of things kids love, like gigantic stuffed animals and bouncy balls. I stood in the aisle I wanted, and the girls were about 10 feet away trailing after me. The conditions were ripe for an incident of some sort, since no one had had a nap all day. Annie got a mischievous glint in her eye that I know all to well. She was ready to make a break for it. I told her to come back here now, before I count to 3, or I'll put you in time-out. There was a hesitation on her face, and then as she looked like she might just take off, Delaney took her by the hand and pulled her over to me. I was relieved and I said, "Thank you, Delaney." Then I got us all the hell out of there.
Delaney starts preschool tomorrow, and a week from tomorrow, Auntie Karen comes to visit! The rest of this month should fly by.