Last week, while on holiday with my family in Montreal, I came to a realization - an "aha moment" as Oprah would call it. It was such a profound moment for me, that I simply had to documented it on video (check it out below). Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love food. I love food more than anything else - truly. So going out to restaurants is possibly one of my favorite things to do, and even though I am a vegetarian and not the most adventurous eater, I like to think of myself as a foodie.
Cue children. 6.5 years ago, my first child was born, and now, with 3 kids in tow, fun dining out in restaurants seems like a distant memory. Sure, my hubby and I get a sitter every now and then to eat out, and I try go out to dinner with my girlfriends on the odd occasion. However, the experience of eating out. trying new restaurants, tasting new things has changed drastically for me since having kids.
It didn't have to change - loads of people I know take their kids along to restaurants, and they often invite us or ask me why we don't do the same. And yes, we have tried a number of times, and for some reason it just doesn't work.
I often dissect the reasons why it doesn't work - in the hopes that I can pinpoint the issue, tweak something in our method and magically all will be good in the land of eating out. A million ideas and suggestions flow through my mind, like how I can bribe the kids with dessert, maybe I should get them to nap in the afternoon, perhaps I'll give in and let them watch the iPad, what if I tell them that if they behave we will take them out to eat again... I get exhausted just thinking about it. I also wonder if it's the type of restaurant we go to - will that make a difference? Maybe a kid-friendly menu, a place with big TV screens, the right kind of ambiance, somewhere close to home? And every time we try, I come to the same conclusion - it just doesn't work for us. The kids can't sit still, they don't eat their food, they run around, climb under the table, thy don't listen when we ask the to do something... Yes, they are "those" kind of kids in restaurants. And I am "that mom" - that mom that gets the eye from others, that mom that gets flustered and that mom that eventually can't help but lose it.
So what was different last week when we took our kids out to eat while on our summer vacation? All was the same as usual - they misbehaved somewhat and simply didn't listen. I wolfed down my food between barking orders at the kids. I tried to hold some decent adult conversation with friends, tried to hold it together - but my nerves were fried. My patience was non-existent and my brain was exhausted from thinking of bribes, comments and punishments for the kids. I was done.
Then we returned to the hotel. I felt defeated, sad, angry and embarrassed. I apologized to my husband - my sweet, relaxed, calm and accepting husband. He said it was OK - but I knew it wasn't. My behavior was not OK. Never mind the kids' behavior, the way I ended up acting that night was worse than any child in a restaurant.
And that's when it hit me... I am just not built for it. I simply cannot handle it. I am not that kind of parent. It sounds simple, but the realization was profound. In that moment, I felt all the mommy guilt disappear, and all the suggestions, thoughts, bribes and fantasies of it all figuring itself out - just fade away. Why was I being so hard on myself? For what? For who?
I'm not built for it. There, I said it. Now I can accept that fact and just move on with my life. How refreshing, how empowering, how liberating... Now that tastes good.