I almost died today. I wasn’t playing in traffic or fending off killers or running with scissors. I was eating. And not anything like that weird Japanese fish that can kill you if you don’t say the right voodoo chant before digging in. Just plain old regular
McDonalds food (okay, okay, it WAS McDonalds but I do NOT want to hear your “Well, that can kill you, too” fiction because mama’s not listening). I was just having some lunch (at 10:45am. Gosh. This is getting embarrassing.) and almost ended my time on this earth.
Recently, the five of us were at Chipotle when Mr. Black and I realized something. We were halfway through our meals before we realized we hadn’t looked up or taken a breath in a good 25 bites. There we were. The five of us scrunched into one booth, kids doing Lord knows what and mom and dad heads down, elbows up and the food-to-mouth conveyor belt set to super mega overdrive (PS: if Monkey could read, I would have just gotten 856473 mom points for working two Power Ranger series into that one sentence. #coolmom). We just happened to briefly glance up and catch each other’s eye and we came to for a sec. We realized we were racing some subconscious clock, a toddler time bomb. Until this realization, we hadn’t spoken to each other or the kids since we sat down and quite possibly could have even blacked out for a second in a Great White-like feeding frenzy. We weren’t even THAT hungry. No. It wasn’t hunger. It was the Parent Mealympics and we were going for gold.
It was then that I realized that this is a thing. Being restaurant lovers, we used to go out all the time. It wasn’t so much a solution to the “what’s for dinner?” question or the “we’ve both worked all day and no one feels like cooking” dilemma. It was just fun. Eating dinner at a restaurant meant we were sitting at a real table and not in front of Office reruns. It meant we weren’t having chicken. Again. As fun as it once was, it seems the more children you add to the equation, the less fun and more task-like it becomes. Eating in general is a real circus act. My eyes used to get their serious roll on whenever a mom was like, “I just completely forgot to eat today!” I was like, “Lies.” You can only ignore the hunger beast for so long before things get real. And with one child, I never “forgot” to eat. With three children, I’m like, “Did I eat today? I know I ate pancakes on Tuesday. Is today Tuesday? If so, yes. I ate today. If not, well, I don’t even know where to go from there…”
We had instinctively gone into survival mode in that Chipotle. We were determined to find nourishment without regard to such luxuries as “tasting our food” or “chewing” or “enjoying ourselves”. Because, see, in the Parent Mealympics, only the strong get the prize. The rest get screaming children, angry glares, social anxiety and their food “accidentally” tossed to the floor.
So, fast forward to today. Monkey, Bear, Princess Lady and I had just dropped some $$ at the bank (thank you, Jesus, for the new drive through teller!!), picked up some almond milk and stamps at the store and camped out in the McDonalds parking lot for 15 minutes so Monkey could get his “Happy MealS toy” (with an “S”, always with an “S”). After successfully securing food from the lunch menu, we headed home to eat. I don’t know if anyone other than a mom of several really knows the emotional and physical struggle of getting everyone out of the car and into the house. Add a few grocery bags and McDonalds meals and mom’s about to cry. Through the veil of tears, though, I managed to get everyone in. Princess Lady was more than ready for a nap, the boys were doing some kind of weird toddler tribal hunger chant, the dogs were producing their own strange and altogether awful “we need to pee” sounds and my stress-o-meter was reaching critical mass. I knew I had a small and unusually shaped window of time to wedge my postpardum self through before everyone released a collective wail of dissatisfaction. I scrambled to get the dogs out, toss Bear into a high chair, dole out just enough sustenance to stop the whining and sit myself down at the table in such a way as to throw more morsels of food as needed, feed myself and nurse a baby lady. And then I reenacted that day at Chipotle until a large ball of unchewed burger stopped me. I paused just long enough to dectermine whether or not I was having an actual heart attack or just needed to give chewing a shot. I’m still alive so I’m going with the chewing theory.
But, like I said, with all these kids “needing” things and having such “personalities”, who the freak has time to chew?! I’m in a race and I WILL win!