It was a few weeks after Bowdy was born and I was feeling shut in. Back to real life with three young kids now and being alone most days, trying to navigate our new norm. Paisley had just turned 5 in January and Georgia had just turned 3 in February. Not being able to go to the gym yet, or really knowing how to go about doing anything with three kids at this point, we were spending a lot of time at home. The days were long… and the never ending demands were wearing on a tired momma.
On this specific day I got a text from a friend around 9am asking if I wanted to join her and another friend at IKEA at 10am for some shopping and lunch! I did a little happy dance at the thought of someone asking me to get out of the house for the day and then said, “I would love to come, but I don’t want to bring all the kids to IKEA.” She then replied back, “They have a free play place for the kids. So we can shop while they play.” I then carried on with my happy dance and decided, “Heck YES, we will go!”
Then I looked at the clock… it was already 9am, to get to IKEA by 10am I would have to leave in 15 minutes.
None of us were dressed for the day and the diaper bag was not packed. So I got down real close to my girls’ faces and said in a very sweet and loving voice, “Some friends are all going to a play place to play- do you guys want to go?” Of course they said yes. Then I said, “Great!! Go get dressed and ready to go while I get Bowdy and myself ready.”
To be fair I just told my 5 & 3 year old to go get completely ready on their own in the next 15 minutes. You would think that this would be enough time, right? SO WRONG. By the time I got dressed, threw on a hat and some mascara (the only real makeup a new mom needs- can I get an amen?!), packed the diaper bag, and went to get the girls from their room where they not only had not gotten dressed yet, but had now managed to make a mess of toys because they forgot what they were supposed to be doing the minute they saw the My Little Ponies.
I asked them kindly, one more time, “Please stop playing and get dressed so we can go play with friends. I’m going to go get Bowdy in the car and when I come back, I want you ready to go. OK?????”
They both looked at me and said “OK.”
However… the task was still not complete when I returned. So then I turned into the kind and patient mother that I am and started yelling… which led to crying and whining and a temper tantrum from the 5 year old. And an argument about what jacket the 3 year old could wear on the cold day in April! I might have even yelled something like, “Why are you crying, we are going to see your friends… hurry up!!!!!!!”
Nice Krista, like that will work!
On the way to IKEA, before we hit the freeway, Bowdy was in an all out screaming fit. Newborn crying is the worst, especially in the car. It’s then that I realized he was hungry. I tried to ignore it in hopes that he would fall asleep and I could feed him when we got there, but he didn’t let up. And now it was upsetting the girls. So I pulled over and hopped in the back seat on a country road to feed the hungry boy while the girls played in the back seat. 20 more minutes, a few burps later, the Disney station on Pandora, and we were back on our way to IKEA to meet our friends…
So we could play.
So we could get out of the house.
Because I was invited.
Because I wanted to.
Because I was bored.
So the kids could have fun.
Because I feel bad saying “no.”
We reached IKEA only 10 minutes late!
I was excited and relieved to meet our friends inside! It was so good to see a few adult faces that I recognized right away! We all said our hello’s and made our way to the magical IKEA play zone that would watch our kids for free for an hour while we shopped. Only to find out that the kid zone was full. According to the staff member, they can only take a certain number of kids and they were full! They then handed us a beeper, like at a restaurant that would tell us when they could take our kids. My face at this point must have said it all… total shock!!!!
All together my two girl friends and I have 9 kids. 9 KIDS under 6…
Trying to stay positive I turned to my friends and said, “OK, well, um, let’s just shop. What did you guys want to come here to look at?”
I was expecting an answer like… a new table, rugs, lamps, a couch for the office, a fun new plate set that was a must have. However, none of these were the answer. The answer was simply “BAND-AIDS”
WHAT? That’s right, I said it- WHAT??? If you know me well enough you can see my face. The slight tilt of my head, my eyes getting a little bigger and my voice changing a bit. I can’t easily hide my emotions so I’m sure I looked ridiculous. We drove to IKEA for BAND-AIDS!!!
(side note though- they are really nice band-aids)
We gathered up our troops + 3 strollers and headed upstairs to the kids area to find the band-aids and let our crew play while we waited for the buzzer to sound letting us know we could shop kid-free.
That’s when one of the kids got her fingers caught in the elevator! She was quite the trooper but us moms were a little panicked. We got her calmed and on our way! Found the band-aids and let the kids play for awhile, then it happened. THE BUZZER!!!!!
FREEDOM!!!!! We rushed back down to the kids zone to drop the older kids off (they only take the potty trained ones) and we were off. We had an hour to just wander, catch up, and push the youngest 3 in the strollers. We took full advantage! And then calmly and happily went back to get our kids when the hour was up.
I picked up Georgia and put her on my hip as we made our way to the lunch area and that’s when I noticed my side starting to feel funny. A little warm, a little cold… Oh my goodness, I’m all wet… wait… she’s all wet… is this pee?
Yep, it’s pee. Georgia had peed her pants while in the play zone because she was too shy to ask where the bathroom was. She was also wearing very dark leggings so you couldn’t tell at all unless you touched them. GREAT! So I took her to the bathroom and got her changed (I always carry an extra pair of pants for G; this girl is notorious for waiting too long). However, this didn’t solve my problem of now having a pee soaked shirt on. So, in 3rd-time-mom fashion I put my jacket back on and walked out of the bathroom and to the cafeteria to get our lunch. It’s a real shame that IKEA doesn’t sell clothes, they would have made an easy sale that day.
During lunch all of the older 6 kids sat at a table while us moms and the babies sat next to them at our own table, trying desperately to enjoy our meal. The older ones honestly did pretty well, you know, the usual. Talking too loud, running around and not actually eating their food. But, we didn’t have to yell so I call that a win. At one point all of us moms where nursing at the same time at our table. When Bowdy was finished eating I went to burp him and quickly realized that he had pooped all the way up his back and now it was on my hands. Back to the bathroom I went. At this point I was almost in tears.
As I’m writing this I keep laughing at myslef. How was this my day that day?! It’s that comical.
We soon left IKEA and my girls fought all the way home, to the point that I yelled so hard my throat hurt. The baby cried all the way home, and when we finally got home G wouldn’t nap because now she was over-tired and over-stimulated.
I sat down that night and made a promise to myself that I would never do this to my kids again. And the hard part was that it wasn’t a bad thing.
But, I would never again make plans the morning-of in fear of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). I would stick to routines and schedules that work for our family and I would say, “no, thank you,” to things, making more room for other “yes’s.”
I did the chaos that day. I created it. I made myself flustered, angry, and frustrated, and in turn did the same to my kids. Who then felt pushed aside, stressed, and G was embarrassed over peeing her pants. So now, as much as I want to still say “Yes” to the last minute invites to the park (or even the week-out invites to the zoo), I sometimes say “no,” and that’s OK. I want to be secure enough in who I am to say NO. To not be afraid of FOMO. That’s something God and I have really worked on over the past year.
He has worked so many wonders in my heart on this subject. He has given me this specific word and His, in knowing that I am already secure in who He has made me. The word that I heard from Him was Confidence. Confidence first in who He is, in how I should trust Him, and who He has made me to be.
It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the time I got to spend with my girl friends that day- it’s the price I paid to do it. And my kids are worth more than that price. They deserve better from me. And I can do better. I’m sure you have all been in a similar situation. I am telling you right now, it’s OK to say “not today.” Our crazy lives are chaotic enough without us adding to it. Slow down today, and tomorrow, and the next, and make space for the beautiful in the mundane to happen. I promise you’re not missing out.