Around two years ago, when I was pregnant with Mr. Man, I decided to take Little Miss to Panera for lunch after her swimming lesson. It was probably the first time I had taken her to a restaurant without my husband, parents or a friend along with me. It was so quiet and peaceful and she was a little angel sitting at the table, eating her grilled cheese and talking to me in her two-year-old way. I thought to myself, why haven’t I done this more and how will I be able to when I have a new baby to tote along with us?
I looked a few tables over at a mom who had two little girls with her and was also without another adult. Her girls were well behaved and she sat quietly talking to both of them while they ate their sandwiches. I was very aware that our lives were about to change with the addition of a baby, and the calm life I had gotten used to, and the lunch that I was enjoying, would be put on hold few a while. I looked at that mom and thought, some day.
My first brave move was taking the kids to the library by myself. I was worried that Little Miss would take off running through the aisles while I inevitably had to nurse Mr. Man. I was surprised to discover that it actually went pretty smoothly since Little Miss was about to turn three and had gotten the running off out of her system. After our first test run, we have gone to the library many times, and now that Mr. Man is bigger, he loves to play there too.
I have also taken both kids to the mall on my own, which isn’t awful. The biggest issue is fitting the double stroller through the doors without help. Some of the automatic doors don’t work and the thing is as wide as a Hummer so I feel and look like an idiot, but we manage.
Today, while we were out running errands, I drove past Panera and thought, I wonder if I can manage? I told the kids we were going to go to there for lunch. Little Miss was excited, because she has always loved their grilled cheese. Mr. Man was too busy yelling “Car cart,” which he yells every time we are in a parking lot, to notice what I had said, not that he would have understood anyway.
I asked Little Miss to be my helper since I didn’t have any other grown-ups with me. She said she wouldn’t run around and told me Mr. Man shouldn’t run around either. I agreed.
There was thankfully no line (a miracle sent from God?) and we ordered our food, easy peasy. Mr. Man even impressed the guy at the counter when I asked him if he wanted turkey or ham and he responded, “Twuh-tee!”
I managed to get one of those booths that has the cut out so you can see where the food comes up. I told both kids to sit and stay I went to get a high chair. They didn’t move an inch. Same thing when I got our food.
We sat and ate, I took pictures of course, and we talked about all sorts of random things. Mr. Man only threw one piece of food. I had become the mom that I looked at all that time ago. I was sitting with my two amazingly well behaved kids, enjoying lunch, without the tiniest bit of stress.
Mr. Man is no longer screaming every time we set foot in a restaurant and Little Miss can be like a little adult when she is at her best. We made it through those tough days where I felt like I couldn’t manage my kids alone in public and we’ve come out the other side happy, with full bellies and smiles on our faces.