Erinn and I took our oldest boys on a play date to the Field Museum after the great success of our Disney on Ice experience. We couldn’t have planned the day any better. After dropping the babies off at their respective day cares, we met at the museum just after it opened on a beautiful Monday morning.
Side note, if you’ve ever been to the Field on any weekend of the year, it feels a bit like O’Hare airport the day before Thanksgiving, replete with grouchy employees, screaming children, and parents about to lose their remaining strand of sanity. Btw, museum entrance for four pretty much costs as much as a flight to California, but I digress.
On a beautiful summer Monday at 9:30am, the Field loomed silent, reminiscent of the airport in The Langoliers. After meeting the new dinosaur, Maximo, our boys frolicked joyously throughout the museum, as we moms trailed behind, catching up on life.
Later at lunch, with boys occupied by coloring pages, we ate and laughed. It was then we realized that WE HAD BEEN TALKING TO EACH OTHER THE WHOLE TIME. That’s right, friends. Two moms took their children out to two public locations and carried on a complete conversation.
I recognize that we weren’t splitting atoms this day, but what occurred felt monumental to us. You know what it’s like to try to be social when you have your kids in tow. Past the first five minutes of hellos and niceties, the kids already have to pee and get a snack and have their nose wiped and fight over a toy. And they never interrupt at the same time. They send the first kid in to Mom 1 for recon, then wait for her to return to the other grown-up before following up with further troops to distract Mom 2, and finish with a coup de gras back to Mom 1. After two hours of this, all adults leave exhausted, promising to schedule the next play date, while not realizing until the car ride home that they never actually spoke a full sentence to anyone. Such is the social life of a mom: a trail of broken conversations and bags of half-eaten snacks.
But this day felt so different, so freeing, and we couldn’t figure out why until we realized we’d gained all this autonomy when we left the babies behind. This realization hit us like a ton of bricks. One child is a dream. Two children is complete chaos.
And I don’t even feel a little guilty saying that aloud. We love them endlessly, that goes without saying, but that second child is 100% mom’s exhausting responsibility. With that first one, you’re on a team with dad. You’ve got a pinch hitter, an ace in the hole when you need to grab a shower or a blink of sleep. You take turns waking up, changing diapers, and eating at social events. With #2, the team has moved to man-to-man defense, and your partner has suddenly evaporated to cover the easier kid, while you are knee deep in solo-parenting the stick of human dynamite with one hand and shoveling a crab cake in your mouth with the other.
And aside from enjoying a morning hanging out with our best friend, leaving the babies behind allowed us to really spend focused time with our oldest boys, which is so rare when baby #2 hits the scene. At one point, I realized I’d heard K talk more in one day than I’ve ever heard in three years combined. I got to watch Aiden have like a whole dinosaur chat with his cousin, each excitedly pointing out the next awe-inspiring fossil. Moments like these are easily missed when there’s another tiny human Frankenstein-toddling around, eating dirt and stuff.
So in the hopes that we can foster the budding friendship between our sons and maybe catch a drink or conversation on the weekends, we’ve vowed to keep making days like this happen, days where the first-borns get the attention and the moms get the freedom.