I have long been looking forward to summer, as it would be the time of Getting Out More. However, we have yet to achieve this Getting Out More.
One of the things I’ve been planning on doing for awhile is taking the babies to baby story time at the library. I even mentioned it to a friend who was also looking for something to take their baby to. We went for the first time last week and…it was an experience. I think the babies had a fine time, but for me the whole experience was stressful. Neither of the babies is sitting up on their own, so I couldn’t really have them seated without being supported against me, which is tricky to do when you’re trying to make them clap and do hand motions to keep up with the songs being sung. Nor could I really engage them in other active parts of the songs or stories, given that one of the babies wanted to be held almost the whole time. Nor could I lay them both down because the space was too new to them and they were not having it.
The experience highlighted a fear or anxiety I have around there being two of them and only one of me. I imagine parents of more than one kid, in general, feel similarly. But I have not yet gotten accustomed to doing outside activities that require me to engage them equally at the same time, such as story time. I hate feeling like I’m leaving one of them out, even if I am going back and forth between the two of them. I also feel like I can’t do things that require one-on-one attention. For example, taking them to the pool. Activities like that require two dedicated adults, each to safely handle a child (at least until they learn how to swim).
I just feel like they are missing out, and will continue to miss out on certain things because there is only one of me.
As it is, I don’t take them out as much as I would like. I’m used to being out a lot during the summer, and this summer feels shockingly similar to this past winter and early spring when we couldn’t leave the house much. For awhile I was feeling like I was just failing at things because I couldn’t get us out more, such as parent groups, to the park, or even just out for walks like we used to. I kept wondering why, given that the weather wasn’t shutting us in. I would see other parents and see or hear about how they were out doing all sorts of things with their kids, and I couldn’t manage to get us outside regularly for a walk. I came to realize that I’m just tired and there is little reprieve. It seems like such a weak excuse, but I think it’s just the truth of the matter. After taking care of and playing with them all day, there is no real energy left to try to go somewhere. (Living in a three-story walk up doesn’t help. I try to only make that trip up and down the stairs once a day, since I carry them in their car seats simultaneously, and then it’s a walk to the parking lot.) And ultimately, the difference between me and those that seem to be getting out more, is that there is no one to pass the babies off to in the evenings. No one to help clean out their high chairs for the 3rd time today. No one to help clean the kitchen after I make all of our food. No one to help clean the apartment, do laundry, bathe the babies, etc. The more I talk to or read about folks, that seemed to be the missing piece.
It’s ridiculous that I didn’t realize this immediately. That I got to the point of just feeling bad and frustrated with myself, wondering why I couldn’t achieve what seemed like such a doable thing. I am single. Obviously I’m going to be spending more of my time doing things that keep us afloat and will, ultimately, have less energy to get us out and about for fun. Granted, knowing this doesn’t necessarily make it feel any better – I still miss being out and about, and wish I could get us out. But the goal is to try to get out more; summer is my favorite season and I love being out in it, and I want the babies to get lots of summer outdoor time. I just need to give myself some slack, remembering that there’s a lot on my plate, so it’s ok if I can’t take us out everyday. If I manage a few times a week, or even just once a week when things get tough, then that’s still something.