I was thinking about how the spoken word can have so much power. It can take an experience, label it, and forever change the way you think about it. . I remember the first time we decided to go on a weekend trip after our youngest was born. Baby Bjorn strap on carrier…Check! Stroller..Check! Pack and Play…Check! Our little minivan reminded me of the opening scene in Little House on the Prairie..the one where they have their covered wagon full to the brim of people and supplies; off to find a new land full of opportunity. And the look of pure joy when they finally actually get there. It’s hard to imagine Carolyn Ingalls saying..please stop licking the baby’s foot honey, he doesn’t like it or sweetheart, take that cheeto out of your nose.
Living in the midwest has so many advantages. My husband and I grew up here in the wide open spaces, and we never contemplated living anywhere else. Having said that, we are deprived of the big city stuff like Louis Vuitton, Prada, and P.F. Changs. If you can’t jet off for an excursion to New York or Chicago, there IS a place that is within driving distance: The Mall of America located in Bloomington, Minnesota. It’s a sort of mecca to weary small-towners that are tired of shopping at the Gap (as cool as it is, it’s not exactly unique)….or to parents, depressed at the notion of a relaxing night out equating to a wild evening spent dodging high adrenaline, unsupervised, sugared up children at Chuck E. Cheese.
As you can see, our trip was one that not only led to one of a kind fashion and ridiculously overpriced purses, but to our very sanity. We had been told by many other parents of small children, that the Rainforest Cafe was a MUST. So we put our name on the list. While my husband kept the middle child from swiping coins OUT of the wishing well, I balanced the baby on one hip while apologizing to the poor folks who weren’t fast enough to get out-of-the-way of my oldest pushing the stroller, aiming for their Achilles (the stroller we had to bring even though it’s a scientific fact that children don’t actually SIT in them.) I found myself frustrated, and immediately started looking around for other families. Comparing. Always a good idea. I noticed a couple with twin girls. Those little angels did not attempt to move out of their stroller. I”ll bet they drugged those poor kids up on Benadryl I found myself thinking. There’s a couple with one smiling well-behaved kid. They only have one, that explains THAT.. And over there? Those people have NO kids. I remember those days I thought wistfully. I was fast becoming…as they say in Shrek..a donkey on the edge.
But then..as if out of a dream….Carr! Party of Five! Like folks that have just won the lottery, we rounded up our motley crew and pushed our way to the podium. The older two had stopped dead in their tracks, their little eyes wide and peering up into the tank of brightly colored fish swimming over our heads. I could smell food. Really yummy food. Things were looking up. And just at that moment, an energetic 20-year-old in Safari garb said, “Carr? Party of five? Are you ready for your adventure?” It struck me. We ARE Carr, party of FIVE now! That’s US! And that’s what this is. An adventure. A really good one. Yes we are I beamed. And in my heart, I knew we were. This raising kids thing is such an adventure. Sure, there’s gonna be trips to the ER, kids throwing up at 2 in the morning, endless School Christmas programs packed into a too-small gym, a kid getting their head stuck in the railing of the choir loft at a wedding..but I think I love it. This is what we signed up for, and thank God for giving us all of it, and more.