My parents, the kids, and I, along with half of Los Angeles, decided to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific last Wednesday. I am not a crowd person. I don't like crowds when I am by myself and I definitely don't like them when I have 5 kids in tow. However, after two hours in the car there was no turning back. We pressed forward - and when I say pressed, I mean it literally. Thankfully my parents were there to help me out.
For the first 15 minutes, following the 15 minutes that it took everyone to potty, I floundered in dread. Not that anything dreadful was happening, but my mind was trying to formulate a plan of how we were going to make it through this jam packed place, alive, and actually having fun. Why couldn't we be like Jon and Kate or my beloved Duggars? Often when they visit museums and attractions, they close the whole place down or the camera crew creates such a cushion that it's like being alone. I began to think that big families can't do attractions like normal families, unless they have some TLC status. I couldn't even get all five at once up to the window to see the dang puffins. My double-wide stroller was just another obstacle that added to my anxiety, as I would get gridlocked while the family moved forward without me.
To the credit of my brood they were awesome. Unlike some others, they waited their turn and said nothing as other children pushed them aside to view the jelly fish and the sharks. I secretly wanted to tell them to shove the Gap child model down or better yet push her in the touch pool and I would look the other way, but thankfully they are much better than me, in more ways than one. The crowds phased them very little - they stuck together with no wandering off and they looked out for one another, enjoying each others company.
Afterward we walked around the harbor at Long Beach and the kids loved rolling down hills and playing in the sand, I was grateful for a few minutes of quiet, while I sat and enjoyed the cityscape. Filled with great restaurants and beautiful hotels I became a bit jealous of the mother of the little girl I wanted to feed to the sharks. I envisioned her having the single-child jet-setting life that I imagine many LA moms to have, and having all these places at their whim. How nice it must be to eat at whatever restaurant you want, to stay at hotels and not have to sneak kids up so that you don't exceed the 4 person per room limit. Yes, ashamedly, I admit the green-eyed monster paid me a visit on that bench I was warming. Even as I watched the kids play and I joked and laughed with them it still stayed with me, the want of more, the guilt of not doing enough with and for my kids, wishing we could do elaborate vacations. Are you shocked? I was. I tried to shake it but it clung to me like the sand to Vance's runny nose. Even as we left the picturesque city and headed to meet Brian who was in Orange County on business, I quietly let it bother me. I selfishly thought of all the things I'm missing out on; weekends away with Brian (after all who can find a sitter for five kids), delicious foods at my favorite restaurants (I would eat out everyday if I could), the clothes (I still have things in my closet from 12 years ago that I still wear - no offense would be taken if anyone wants to send me to What Not to Wear). My mind began thinking of all the things my kids are missing out on because of our decision to have a larger-than-most family; the family trips to amusement parks and far away destinations, the bikes and boards Jace wants, and the toys the others want. Not to mention all that Brian sacrifices as he goes to work every day for us. There I was driving the 405 with a gray cloud over my head, thinking poor me, poor us, we're missing out on so much.
We pulled into the place where we were to meet Brian and as we sat there listening to Vance who had been screaming for the last 30 minutes from over stimulation, I wallowed in my "woe is me" thoughts some more. Then I saw him. There was Brian, breaking the law by jay-walking across the divided highway, and I felt such a relief, such love for my life. The clouds parted and I knew I was missing nothing at all. Maybe it was the four days apart, maybe it was the PMS finally settling, or maybe it was God reminding me of what I have. At that moment in time my pity party evaporated. Seeing him, my goateed honey, brought life into perspective. Brought our family into perspective. My envy for the mom with the adorable rude child dissipated. Why would I want to travel the globe, wear Jimmy Choo, and never regulate my restaurant food consumption, when we have the desert to explore, I can sport a "vintage" t-shirt from High School, and I have an easy rockin' pot pie recipe that the whole family loves? My five kind children may have taken away my chances for living the "good" life in the opinion of many, but what they have left me with instead is a blessed life, for which I am thankful.