Suburban Life

I never properly understood the end-of-the-year craziness that descends suburbia until now.

Holy moley.

My child has been on this earth a mere 16.5 months, and suddenly we’re trekking all over creation in a sensible SUV with pasta salads, fruit cobblers, birthday gifts, and (always!) a well-stocked diaper bag.

Maybe it’s the “bring a dish” aspect of all these end-of-the-year events that stresses me out a bit. Clearing enough time to prepare something real daunts me. So much can go wrong with a toddler running around. Example: At the exact moment I needed to pull the pasta from the boiling water (otherwise it would be overcooked, and Chris hates nothing more than overcooked pasta), Charlotte took a nasty fall, smacking her face into the edge of the wooden armrest of a chair. So there was much screaming, crying, and a nasty goose egg. Obviously, Charlotte needed me more than my pasta did, so I carried my sobbing girl around the kitchen, knowing my noodles were getting all gross.

Oh, well.

Technically, I could pick up something fancy and pre-made at Whole Foods for $400 per pound. Or I could go the chips and dip route. But I feel so obligated to make something REAL, from SCRATCH. This is probably my working mommy complex that makes me dread showing up at the school picnic with cookies in a Safeway bag—of course, every mommy at Charlotte’s school picnic is a working mommy, so I should have brought juice boxes and been done with it. There was no judgment there. But no, I made a berry cobbler, and frankly, it looked a little out of place.

The past couple weekends have been a hurried blur of church picnics, church lunches, school picnics, and birthday parties. And of course things need to be prepared, coordinated, planned, and—at the very least—bought. And then I must carefully schedule naps for Charlotte in between activities (otherwise she’ll fall apart), and inevitably I have to cut all her naps short because It’s Time To Go Again.

Also, may I add, I look forward to the age where you can drop your kid off at birthday parties rather than stick around for 2 hours on a humid 90-degree-day with 42 toddlers running around, screaming “Mine! Mine! Mine!”

All in all, everything was fine and, despite me blowing it all out of proportion here, completely manageable. But the whole end-of-the-year suburban life thing made me a tad nervous. I mean, Charlotte is just a toddler. What happens when she has actual activities, and we have June recitals, graduations, trophy ceremonies, and—oh, lordy—outdoor games? (I don’t do bugs.) Why, this was just a taste of what’s ahead! I see the minivans of families in our neighborhood with older (school-aged) children constantly zipping to and fro, and I know that will be us some day.

Sans minivan, of course.

(Then again. Those sliding doors are mighty tempting. Mighty tempting indeed.)

On Friday night, when one of Chris’s coworkers asked him about his weekend plans, he gave a laundry list of our suburban weekend activities.

“Remember when you were hip and lived in the city? Now look at you!” his coworker said. (Note: Chris was NEVER hip.)

Chris looked at her, considering her words, then he called me up and we met for cocktails (in an urban setting—not the local bar!), just the two of us. We felt very cool, very hip, very urban.

It was short-lived. One drink later (hey, it keeps your bar tab low), we took off to go pick up our bundle of toddlerness.

But we did it! We practically had a DATE! Although such moments are rare, I think mommies and daddies need to snatch them when they can—those opportunities to have a conversation without “Mamamamamamama, nanananananana [add blowing sound here]!” blaring from the backseat. Those opportunities to have a drink with your main squeeze without one hand holding another (sticky) hand at the end of a wiggly toddler. The opportunity to go into a restaurant that doesn’t have a kid’s menu.

My point? A little one-one-one time with the daddy of your little one—especially someplace reminiscent of your pre-kid days—is good for you.


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