Not sure Emily drank as much Malbec as I do

Every now and then, you come crashing up against your own limits, your own edges, and sweetie, it ain’t pretty.

Saturday, with Rob away all weekend at a jazz festival in Pennsylvania, I decided to be Awesome Mama and take all three boys to the Royal Ontario Museum. The night before had been Rory’s 6th birthday, and he and I decided to have a home party: Harry Potter the First (or Little Baby Harry as we like to call him), hot dogs, popcorn, and a whole mess o’candy. Nobody puked, so I’d call it a success.

We hadn’t been to the ROM in a while – after they built the big crystally thingy and re-installed the dinosaurs it’s been a bit of a madhouse. But Saturday dawned grey and chilly, and thoughts of venturing out to the sugar bush fizzled early. Plus, I had thirty-six more hours of single-parenting on a weekend, and there was no way any of us were going to survive that in 1000 square feet. So out it was, and I figured the ROM could be both nifty and as brief as we needed. I decided to buy a membership; the boys are old enough to want to see more than just the bat cave and the tyrannosaurs, and I figure we’ll get more than our money’s worth over the next year. It also takes the pressure off – we can go just for an hour, and I don’t start hyperventilating at the fact that the hour just cost me $80.

Our plan was to bypass the stuff we’d seen before, and instead check out the new Schad Biodiversity Gallery – rooms full of glass cases of specimens and models in natural-ish settings. Mostly I wanted to see sharks hanging from the ceiling and the giant rhino. We’d stop by Starbucks on the way there for a hot chocolate (aka coffee for mama); I promised a swing by our favourite (ok, objectively, the best ice cream in the world) ice cream shop on the way home, then an hour or so of whatever-you-want at home before going out out to dinner with my dad and his wife for Rory’s birthday. All in all a pretty FAB day, right?

And really it started well enough, not counting Finn’s de-facto reaction of I-don’t-want-to-go.

-Finn, you never want to go, here or anywhere. But we go, and you have fun, and that’s why we’re going. You can’t stay inside on the computer all weekend.

-No, really, today I REALLY don’t want to go. It’s different.

-Ya. Get your coat.

-You always ruin my life.

-And your mitts.

I like that in these exchanges neither one of us ever raises his or her voice. It’s just like we have to go through that before leaving the house.

Liam and Rory were actually pretty keen on the museum, which was nice, because that might have been the only time during the weekend they weren’t at complete cross-purposes.

So I’m all Yay, look at us, doing cool urban family things! We rock! The ROM rocks! I can’t wait to see that rhino!

And as SOON as we get to the biodiversity gallery, it’s like all three kids short-circuit. Liam has been having a hell of a time generally lately, and while he easily could live somewhere like the Schad gallery, he also gets super intense among interesting things and great hoards of people. Rory meanwhile was ticking so badly he could hardly make it past an exhibit: tapping, stroking, pressing, pushing; all of which takes a while, and makes Liam even more anxious that we’re not keeping up and staying together. Meanwhile, Finn has developed a full-blown spider phobia in the last year or so, and do you even KNOW how many spider specimens they can cram into a global biodiversity gallery? Like, a million. A million spiders. Why in the name of all that is holy do they need a tarantula beside the PENGUINS?

So there we were, all of us with our shoulders around our ears, Finn’s hand jammed in mine for the whole time, Liam running ahead all twitchy cause we’re not keeping up, Rory lagging behind cause he has to tap the handrail a sixth time, and me trying really hard to make sure everyone has A REALLY GOOD TIME.

I’m not sure I succeeded.

On the way home in the car, everyone was at each others’ throats: Liam’s temper was provoking Rory; Rory’s tics were annoying Finn; Finn’s frustration was making Liam crazy. After about 5 minutes of fighting, I well and truly lost it. And not in a calm, superior Obiwan Kenobi kinda way. More like a white knuckled Roseanne kinda thing. I’m not proud, and I’d take it back if I could. Amid increasingly plaintive barkings from me about kindness and how our family has to be a sanctuary, a support for all of us, I just went a tad non-compus-mentus. Kookoo. Turned up the radio, tried to unclench my teeth, and tried to keep believing that stuff about love and support and sanctuary.

The wretched thing is that when one human isn’t getting everything they need – the peace and calm and sense of “I’m ok and so is the universe”, it’s pretty much impossible to look out for anyone else.

We keep trying. The ice cream went really, really well; always does. And by the time we got home, everyone was grooving again, at least for a while.

Dinner was a whole other story, but that’s another post. Meanwhile, I’ve decided upon review that Saturday was not a wash for three – no, four reasons:

1. My new and TOTALLY inspired resolution to, from now on, go to the museum with one kid at a time.

2. Chocolate Chili Ice cream can make a really big difference in a day.

3. I really do mean all that stuff about support and sanctuary.

4. Giant rhinoceros? THAT cool.

Emily Dickinson wrote, “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul – and sings the tunes without the words – and never stops at all.”

The thing Emily doesn’t mention is how much energy it takes to have hope. No, not have it – remember it. Hope also makes the stakes so much higher. Still, hope and ice cream? Can’t lose.

5 comments to Not sure Emily drank as much Malbec as I do

  • Sharron

    Wow Regan ! I’m so glad I don’t have to remember to go your site. These blogs are almost the next best thing to having you and your guy quartet right next door … BTW – belated wedding anniversary greetings to you and Rob. Hugs and kisses…Sharron

  • ola

    You are an awesome mama.

  • Finn

    Ya, I think this blog is great ‘n’ all, but could you stop with the weird comments about me??

  • Sheila Conboy

    Regan, I stumbled across your Baking Book several years ago and it has been my favorite ever since. Not only do we enjoy the recipes, but your writing and descriptions really make the book great. I am into reading about why I should make a particular recipe, so I loved reading your descriptions. Anyway, i looked you up recenty to find out what became of you and if you had pursued any other cookbooks and I came across your blog. After reading it, I realized that you are quite a busy mom. I loved the recent post, particularly the refereence to Emily Dickenson.
    What a great poem. Anyway, I just had to comment on what a gift you have for writing and what an amazing mother you seem to be. Just reading your blog, it is easy to see that even if your diet isn’t always the healthiest, your perspective sure is. Way to go!

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