You’d think after doing this “I have two children” thing for four years, I’d have my act together. My juggling act, that is. I thought by now I’d have it down to such a science that people would pay admission to see it operate so smoothly.
<Insert annoyingly loud game show buzzing sound now>
But I guess that’s what makes this Parenting job so interesting. Just when you think you’ve hit your stride, your world tilts a tenth of a degree off its axis, leaving you hanging on to the walls and hoping your grandmother’s vase doesn’t get broken in the shift.
Earlier this week my son had a baseball game while my husband was out of town. I brought along a huge bag of stuff to keep my daughter occupied during the 1.5 hour deal. There was enough stuff in this bag to keep a preschooler busy for days. A variety of activities and toys like coloring and princess accessories, and lest we not forget, snacks!
And yet, my daughter preferred to walk up and down the bleachers to play with a kid much bigger than she. Which included, but was not limited to, falling in one of the spaces between the rows and noodling down to the concrete below, scaring the crap out of me and all the other parents in our vicinity.
Luckily, the bench she fell off of was pretty low, there was no crying or blood, and it pretty much nipped her will to bleacher-run in the bud.
But while this was happening? My son was hitting a double. And I missed it.
One day, I hope to get this delicate balance figured out. How to spread my attention between both kids so that I can applaud the efforts of a home run while simultaneously coaxing the other away from that over-eager dog by a nearby tree.
Multi-tasking at its best, parenting more than one child requires the hand-eye coordination of a juggler. Lose focus on one ball up in the air, and the whole act can feel like it comes crashing down.
I haven’t mastered that skill yet. The one that can miraculously have eyes in two separate directions. Or even better, the ability to be in two places at once.
When my daugther was a mere three months old, we took her to her very first baseball game at Coors Field. We did this when my son was the same age, and it went so well, we thought we could tempt fate and try it with two kids.
My daughter was an angel on the way in to the stadium, falling asleep on my chest, held in by the Bjorn, and staying that way for the first two innings. When she finally woke, she was happily sucked on the front part of the carrier while checking out the crowd.
Then Troy Tulowitzki hit a homerun.
The crowd around us erupted in cheers, the noise swirlied around the lower deck and amplified from the mezzanine above us, crashing down around our 12-week old in a way she wasn’t prepared for.
And as if to voice her opinion, my daughter let out a caterwaul that silenced most of the crowd around us. I’m talkin’ Level 5 Meltdown so loud I’m sure the players could hear it on the field.
And that was it for me and watching the game. I tried giving her a bottle but it only made her cry harder. So I did what any parent would do, and got up to walk around with her.
She screamed from the moment I carried her out of the aisle, up the stairs through the concourse, and in to the bathroom where I tried to find a quiet place to give her the bottle again. When that failed, I retreated to a bathroom stall and tried to nurse her, to which she also violently refused.
When I say “violently”, I mean that she screamed so loud that I’m sure someone, somewhere in the bathroom was calling Child Services, as it sounded like I was inflicting some serious pain on my child.
It was probably one of the single most embarrassing moments of motherhood for me. The looks from people as I carried her screaming body while scouting a secluded area to calm her down didn’t help either.
Some where from sympathetic mothers who tried to give me the look of “Girl, I totally understand where you are.” But some where from people that just screamed “What the hell are you doing here with that awful baby?” And I even heard one guy look at me and tell his buddies “That’s why I’m never having kids.”
So, really, that was a selfless act of public service. A walking contraception billboard.
And what happened while I was trying to console a screaming banshee out past the concourse?
My son’s adorable face was up on the Jumbotron. For all of Coors Field to see.
Except his mother.
As heartbreaking as it was to return to my seat, only to find everyone around me remark “you missed it. YOU MISSED IT!” I know that as a mother, these missed moments will be frequent and plenty. I can’t stop them from coming, and I can’t prevent them from being missed.
There will be that perfect triple pirouette that wasn’t observed because I was taking someone else to the bathroom. The one and only soccer goal of the season missed because I was retrieving someone’s water bottle from the car. There will be home runs and cartwheels and fastest laps and back flips that will go unseen.
All I can hope for as a parent is that I will eventually get my turn to witness those moments again, as once-in-a-lifetime as they may appear.
Does anyone knows a cameraman and has access to a Jumbotron?