Our usual ritual upon deciding to leave the house is for everyone to suddenly go off in different directions. Grumpy One invariably needs to make toilet stops and have numerous cups of coffee, Zee is always needing one more minute to complete a task (these minutes always take at least 10) and Munchkin will choose that exact moment to do something completely out there like smear peanut butter on the tv which leaves me trying to run around and organise everyone.
So after agreeing to make a day of it Grumpy One said he would take us to Costco. My husband has a dry sense of humour and assuming he was joking I happily got into the car thinking of all the lovely things we could do at the Docklands. It was not until we were actually stopped and parked that I realised he was completely serious.
It’s not that I don’t like Costco, there is an array of goodies to be sort after and some very affordable prices but frankly I don’t always want a years supply of toilet paper or buy 24 cans of chickpeas (we just used the last one) but my issue wasn’t so much with the shop but the fact that he was taking us shopping. Does he not remember the last time?
Shopping and my family do not work well together, in fact not many outings go smoothly for us at all but shopping is the mother of all disasters. Because it takes so long to leave the house we inevitably arrive at our destination by lunch time so the children are already grumpy from lack of food and already tired from the journey. Yes I do usually take snacks with us but lately particularly with the eldest one, I cannot keep up with his constant demand for food and convinced he has overly active stomach acid am seriously considering an intravenous drip.
Going out as a family is fraught with tension as none of us do particularly well with crowds, however while I can manage to cope my family do not. My children both have sensory issues and react quite differently; Munchkin gets sensory overload and become more hyperactive the bigger his world becomes so we generally try to keep him in the stroller or trolley as this entrapment aids in keeping him calm. Zee who has NEVER been compliant with shopping is now a teenager and spends the entire time asking if we are finished yet and when can he go home, there is rarely anything that interests him for very long and he spends his time constantly moaning unless being fed. He is also very protective of his baby brother and tends to take on the role of parent when we are out. This can be rather sweet and helpful but is often bossy and overbearing. These behaviours stress my husband out big time and combined with his enormous dislike of crowds makes for a very stressful environment especially for me. Usually I spend the outing trying to calm everyone down while having multiple mini stress attacks and then finally end up totally disillusioned, not getting anything that we set out to get in the first place and just want to find a big cave and stay there.
Today was a typical shopping experience other than the amusement park across the road was actually open so we thought it might be fun to check it out, unfortunately the weather was not very accommodating and also was aimed at younger children so Zee decided within the first 30 seconds he was bored. For some reason he has taken to wearing thongs, partly I think because he is so tall he just cant be bothered stretching all the way to his toes. Anyway within the first five minutes his toes were blue so now he was cold and bored. Just have to note that this child was also going to leave home without jacket. We stayed long enough to have a few quick rides but as it was starting to rain and I was needing a bathroom stop we ventured into Costco’s. The agreement was food first, shopping after; the pizza slices are cheap and huge and unlimited refills of drink.
Once in we grabbed the last remaining trolley and Grumpy One headed for the audio-visual equipment. I needed the loo so excused myself and rushed off. On my speedy return I arrived to find Grumpy One and Zee in some kind of argument that neither were willing to discuss (thankfully friend has known us for years and is considered part of the family otherwise might never come back). Grumpy One continued on his way when I gently reminded him that we were going to get food first (it was now 1.00). ” Fine” he says and turns around swiftly almost taking a television with him. We arrive at the very crowded food hall and I scan for an empty table. Grabbing it as quickly as I could I sat down only to find husband trying to deal with trolley and child and not being able to manoeuver his way around another womans trolley. By this time Grumpy One had reached his limit and no matter what I tried there was no bringing him back. We ate in silence, did a quick scan around the store, think there was momentary happiness at incredibly cheap Parathas and then we were bundled into the car heading south towards Chadstone. I think the only words spoken were “we are never coming again with the kids or on a weekend”.
We always end family outings with this quote and of course never do it. So why do we keep punishing ourselves? Why do we keep banging our head against the wall and stressing ourselves out?
There are obvious reasons for going out as a family. Since we have moved it takes us longer to get anywhere and I don’t like the idea of Zee being home too long by himself. A short time is fine but not all day, secondly we do not have relatives close by or know our neighbours well enough to babysit the Munchkin and I am not comfortable leaving the two of them home together in fear that only one will be standing when we return. The biggest reason though is that I still cling to the hope that one day we will magically be able to connect as a family and manage family outings without the moans, the arguments and the stress.
There is a bright side today though, in my endeavours to remember that I always have a choice and am not a victim I managed to hold it together fairly well. I didn’t feel like I was about to have a heart attack. Do I have heartburn? yes and will probably for a day or so but I did remember to breath. I also tried to take as many photos as I could on my phone as we rapidly speed through the city so at least I had a chance to play. Maybe I will never have the family life I wanted and dreamed of, perhaps my expectations are too high but I am trying to remember to see the light in everything and have fun. Life’s too short as they say.
I don’t know I’m just a beginner really what do you think?