Yesterday was errand day. Three hours' worth of errands (including a pit stop at the mall play place) with my 4-year-old daughter, 2-year-old son, and a newborn in tow.
In case you're wondering how it went, I got an invitation to cut in the register line in front of two (two!) people.
Because my children were driving everyone CRAZY and they wanted to get us out of there.
At the post office, my daughter grabbed the bell on the door and shook it until it sounded like Rudolph was having a seizure in the lobby. Once everyone in the post office was deaf, she showed her brother how much fun it was to play with the retractable line dividers.
(Eventually I was able to coax them away from there, but I kind of wish I hadn't because they just went back to the bell.)
At CVS, my daughter stretched out both of her arms for maximum contact with ALL the merchandise on the way to the baby care aisle, where the 2-year-old knocked over every single bottle of baby wash on the shelf behind me while I looked for the right size of diapers.
In Target, my son ran behind the automatic door while I was talking to the customer service lady and it opened on him when a shopper came in. He wasn't hurt, but I think the shopper had a heart attack from squashing a child.
In the grocery store I corralled my son in the basket of the cart where he gnawed on a block of cheese through the plastic wrapper until it was mush, and his sister asked for marshmallows 47 times.
It was supposed to be a short trip for just a few essentials, but I forgot to factor in the time it would take to find a store employee to clean up the egg my son cracked open in the middle of the cereal aisle.
I could stop right there and it would be a pretty amusing story about a hectic day. But that wouldn't be telling all of it. There were also plenty of moments when I was practically moved to tears by their sweetness.
- In the car my 2-year-old pointed out every motorcycle he saw — and kept pointing it out until I acknowledged it. This is how it feels to be the most important person in someone's life. I'm lucky to have someone who loves me so much he wants me to be part of everything he sees.
- At the same time, I was nodding and smiling as his 4-year-old sister talked nonstop planning every detail of her birthday parties for the next four years. I doubt she'll still want a pink and purple ballerina party when she's 8, but I love her enthusiasm all the same.
- When I hoisted the baby's car seat out of the car at the post office, I told my 2-year-old "Hold hands in the parking lot!" I held out my hand, but he grabbed his sister's instead and I was so grateful that my kids were friends.
- Walking through the mall, I couldn't help but laugh at my 4-year-old swinging her arms as she tried to speed-walk in front of all of us to lead the way to Target and the 2-year-old clomp-clomp-clomping after her like a refrigerator.
- As they were both swinging from the sides of the cart like a merry band of pirates, I noticed a fellow shopper with her two teenage boys look wistfully after us. Her eyes crinkled and her expression almost audibly sighed, "Oh, I miss those days." Someday I'll remember this as the good old days, when everyone I loved was under one roof.
Yesterday, I spent three hours bouncing between two extremes: one minute I wanted to kiss my kids' downy little heads for pure joy and the next I wanted to leave them in the cart return for someone else to bring home. Repeat cycle.
Motherhood is both exasperating and wonderful. It's as fulfilling as it is draining.
That's why it can be so hard to answer the question, "How was your day?"
That's why Phillip never knows whether he's going to come home to find me weeping in despair as the kids demolish the house around me or whistling happily as they color to Mozart while a perfectly-cooked dinner is being put out on the table.
That's why we're all a little bit crazy sometimes.
Yesterday was errand day, but it was also a case study in all the highs and lows of motherhood.
When someone wants to know what it's like to be a mom, a thousand different things fly through my mind that all parents know but none of us can put into words.
Parenthood defies a simple answer, because each day is a jumble of everything the human heart could possibly hold.