Monday, May 07, 2012

Mommy's Moment: Just Imagine

Before I say anything about our adventure to the Imagine It! Museum, let me first give a HUGE thank you to my neighbor Melanie and her friend, Christina, who gave us FREE tickets. I am VERY grateful despite what you may sense from the rest of this post.

I'm always grateful for an opportunity for my kids to experience something new and different from the normal day to day happenings at home. And lately, with a tight budget, it doesn't happen that much. So when I say I'm grateful, I am. But I also realize that when you go anywhere with young children, it's hard. Real hard. Let me explain.

My friend, Laura Beth, and I with our five kids ages five and under (1,2,3,4,5) began the journey forcing car seats into the back seat of my van. If there is anything that tests my patience, and my choice of words, it is car seats. There is nothing simple about them. NOTHING. And, with that final shove of the booster seat, I found that buckling little Ada in proved a far more difficult task. Thirty minutes later, we were on the road.

Reaching "The Big City" proved another obstacle. I don't venture there often. Again, why would I with the price of gas and with three very young children who often prove to be quite the distraction in an unfamiliar area that is teeming full of one way streets and more competent and fearless drivers than I?

But this day we did. Oh we did. Of course, the GPS left us hanging. It left us guessing. Which way? And when we finally spotted our destination, we breezed by it only to reunite about thirty more minutes later. Thirty minutes after searching for that road again that led us there. Thirty minutes after being honked at aggressively in an unclear situation where I'm still confused as to how I was in the wrong, though I'll admit, I likely was. Thirty minutes after answering at least thirty times, "what are we doing?" "when are we going to be there?" by three eager little voices in the back. Thirty minutes after searching through parking lots for that perfect spot.

But thirty minutes later we safely arrived in a parking deck. Out popped our strollers. Out popped hands holding onto hands as we walked to the museum.

A little confusion at the front desk made me concerned we may not be welcomed. Thankfully, we were.

And we entered. Into chaos. Fun chaos. Lots to do. But jammed packed chaos. Did I tell you it was Spring Break? Five children, each with their own ideas of what would be fun,pulling us in different directions...even the two babies who no longer were strapped in to a stroller due to the crowd had their own sense of fun. I lost Laura Beth and her crew as my kids immediately ran to the fishing pond. I guess it makes sense.

And we were happy. For a bit. Which seemed to be the theme for the rest of the day. Hannah couldn't seem to "let loose" and soon became quite the party pooper. Kate, well, she wanted to let loose too much to the point where it was a job just to keep her in sight. So we bounced from station to station and we found ourselves back at the "fishing hole."

It was a wet mess but promised for a good time as long as you spotted the non committed fishing poles before that other kid or his parents did. I spotted two girls carefully protected in some really cute raincoats. I was amazed at the preparedness of their mother and soon began to feel a bit inadequate. But that soon dissipated as I later discovered a line of raincoats kindly hung along a wall, compliments of the museum for the fishing pond. I went to grab one for Kate only to see the futility of it. She was already soaked. Then, I looked for Grant.

And folks, that's when my heart stopped. I thought he was with Hannah and Ada who were both happily playing in the "treehouse." After taking my own very quick tour of the treehouse I discovered he was not there, nor anywhere in the fishing hole. I panicked. And like a lightening bolt (or so I imagine myself) I darted out of that place screaming Grant's name. Of course I assumed he was on his way out of the building being held hostage by a child predator and soon to appear on the back of milk cartons everywhere. BUT...thankfully, THANKFULLY, Grant wore a BRIGHT yellow shirt that day and across the room I spotted that bright yellow shirt that hung on a very distraught, confused boy who was screaming, "Mommy!" while walking aimlessly through the crowd.

After reuniting he quickly said, "I want to go home."

Honestly, I did too.

My head was pounding at this point and didn't stop until later that evening.

But, I hoped he would join back in the fun. After all, we had come this far, let's make the most of it. And he did, for a bit, but he reminded me quickly, he wanted to go home.

And so, after another round at the sand table and a quick painting on the walls, we did.

We pulled out the strollers, locked hand in hand, and made our way to the car and out of "The Big City" a lot easier than we did coming in. I felt a little like the country mouse and realized I was far from a city mouse.

The ride home included lots of deep breaths and tired conversation with Laura Beth. We concluded, as we do often, that life with kids, young kids, well, it's hard. Hard for anything to be simple and easy. It involves loading, unloading, packing, herding, constant supervision, and lots and lots of patience. But, it's worth it. The headaches, the drama, the stretching. It's worth it.

there is and can be fun in the chaos.

And these pictures reminded me of that.

Now, if the cow actually worked.

For Daddy

Gone Fishin'

Kate taking it all in and wishing she was bigger.