Ben recently went on a buisness trip to Chicago. Normally we call in favors for the ride to the airport but this time I wanted to drop him off and take the metro in with the girls to the city for the day.
Many of my best childhood memories are of my mom waking us up really early, bundling us up because San Francisco is COLD, and taking us to art museums, or the pier, or a ballet at the Opera house. These were times when my mother, who was normally really strict, would indulge us. She might buy us an ice cream, a ride on a merry-go-round, do something a little extra that was normally "too expensive."
As a homeschooling mother it is easy to feel like you not only have to be the mother but the teacher too. This makes for being the rule and schoolwork enforcer more often than my sanguine side would like. So I have really been wanting to take the girls to D.C., just me and my girls for the day.
The catch 22 is the thought of riding the metro and braving lines alone with four children has always made me wimp out. What if Zita clings to me like some subtropical vine while Angelica is begging me for some impossible favor, meanwhile the baby wants to nurse and Julia had is melting down over her buttons? The people would shake their heads and mutter to themselves in a pitying sort of way or worse yet drop the oh-so-obvious "My, you have your hands full! " which I always feel is a bit like yelling " Wow, you must be busy!" to a group of men moving a grand piano out of midtown manhattan flat.
But this time, I threw discretion to the wind and decided to go ahead and go. . . and the girls were fabulous. The past year has been an awkward sort of shifting changing year. It was a mini-adolescence for our family. The birth of our fourth daughter forced us to grow and adapt in ways we did not know we could.. Its not always perfect and sometimes the kids whine and I yell and it doesn't look or sound great but we all make this big (by modern standards) group of people living under one roof work. I learned a little about time management and planning and most of all that the greatest resource that we have is one another.
Anyway it is hard to see progress sometimes in these matters when you are at home doing my normal juggling routine of schooling, housework, small scale farming, artist aide, etc. Our day in the city really helped me to see how far the girls have come, how far we all have come this past year. At one point we went to the sculpture garden I decided to go order a couple eclairs and a cappuccino from the little cafe. The line was really long and Ronia who had been really patient in the backpack was simply dying to get out and stretch her little walking legs. I could tell I wasn't going to make it to the end of the line. I signaled to Angelica to come and asked her if she thought she could order for us. I gave her the cash and I went out and sat in the shade, just outside. Zita offered to chase Ronia for me and keep her from falling into the bushes. Julia jumped on my lap and we cuddled in the afternoon sunshine.
As I sat there I saw a really pregnant British lady with her two year old who was melting down try to go into the cafe and then reconsider and leave. Now I have been there and I remember those mothers with older kids of large families saying in what I thought was a snarky sort of way. " Just wait, it gets easier when they are older and you have helpers."
And that day as I sat there in the beautiful spring sunshine, while my nine year old was ordering a cappucino and my seven year old chased my toddler around for me, while I cuddled with my pre-schooler, I realized that those mothers were right.
I bought my daughters not only chocolate eclairs but huge servings of ice cream too.
Oh and the fountain by the sculpture gardens is simply stunning and has ducks.
Thumbs up for a great day.