Saturday, June 28, 2008

One of THOSE mornings

This morning was the monthly runners' breakfast. Each month, someone from our rather large, very informal, running group takes a turn having everyone over for a potluck breakfast. We hosted back in February on the morning of the Marathon.

This event has grown through the years. Ten years ago, when the first few of us started running together, we'd do a long run on Saturday morning and then go for breakfast at a restaurant up the hill from the trail where we run. We'd do it pretty much every Saturday morning. But then our group started growing - adding more and more people - to the point where the restaurant would make us wait forever before seating all 15 of us. So we started trying out different restaurants, with varying success.

After a few years, we all started having kids, and finding a place to eat became even harder. We needed someplace that could handle the crowd AND that didn't mind hordes of small children AND that had a playground. The breakfasts also switched to monthly events because everyone's schedule got so busy.

So the idea of having breakfast once a month at someone's house was born. I usually look forward to these events. It's a nice chance for everyone to catch up, and all the kids play well together. And since I'm not running these days, it's the only chance I have to see some of these folks.

This morning's was hard, though. The family who hosted have a pool, which sounded perfect given how hot it's been lately. But it really didn't go well for me. Ella, who is a fish, was just fine, entertaining the littler kids with her flips off the diving board. Lily, who has finally figured out how to swim, was skittish because there wasn't really a shallow end, and she couldn't touch. So she mostly just wanted to cling to me for the first hour or so. Campbell had no interest in getting the pool with me - he just wanted to climb up and down the steps, over and over and over again. I had to sit right there near him in case he got bumped off the steps or got a wild hair and decided to try going to the third step, which would have put him in over his head.

As a result, I didn't really get to visit with anyone, especially not after Campbell decided he'd rather run around the yard. I had to sit where I could at least keep an eye on him. I ended up not really being able to sit near the other adults. Plus I couldn't hang out to help Lily with her swimming. She got very short-changed by me this morning.

I'm sure I looked fine and in control the whole time. One friend, who is expecting number 2, told me it was good to see how calmly I handled three kids because it gave her hope that she would be able to deal with two. I just smiled. I didn't tell her that I was beyond frustrated, feeling like I hadn't done a good job with any of the kids during the morning.

I drove home feeling awful about myself and my parenting and worrying about how I'm going to handle events like that when there's a fourth kid to drag along. I worry that I'll never be able to do things with friends and their kids again because I simply don't have enough arms to go around.

Fortunately, Ella and Lily had fun despite my frustration, and I need to remember that's really what matters. When we got home they told B all about the party and the big squirt guns and the diving board. Lily proudly told B about how she had gone underwater by herself and had swum a little on her own.

Even though I didn't have much fun, the girls did, and that's the most important thing.


Barb said...

You know, I think there needs to be more discussion about how we all feel we are terrible parents or not parenting as well as we should. I feel terrible ALL THE TIME about my parenting. And there is so little positive reinforcement. I feel like I constantly wonder if my kids wouldn't be better off with a different mother or in some kind of day care situation. And shouldn't we be having more fun at all this? Wasn't there a point at which this whole parenting gig wasn't ALL WORK?

I don't know. Struck a nerve with me today.

FishyGirl said...

You know, I'm going to be honest with you, and I'm not doing it to scare you. I'm telling you this to let you know that you, too, will find your groove. You will learn how to deal with them. I've just now gotten there - and Nemo is 19.5 months old. We took all four to Antietam today (civil war battlefield) and my husband and I had the divide and conquer down to a science. It's taken us this long, though. And earlier this week I got together with another mom who has 4 kids about the same age as mine, and we took all 8 to a nearby splash playground. The kids ran around and played, the bigs helped out with the littles, I got to visit with my friend, and everyone had a great time. I spend more time with the littles during the day and at parties like you described and such, but I make sure I spend special time with my bigs later, after the littles have gone to bed, or I plan special things with just them. It keeps everyone on an even keel. We all have bad days from time to time, but we did that when there were fewer of us, too.

I promise you that you can do this.