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  • Katarina Garcia


Updated: Apr 4, 2020

Maxon at our Valentine's Dinner Date playing with the menu.

If I’m completely 100% honest, I’m miserable when we go out with our son. It’s no longer a nice dinner with good food. It’s now my son’s greatest opportunity to wreak havoc. Maxon is in this phase where he has no respect for authority and I have no idea how to discipline him. Yes, I know he’s only 1 year old, but he’s a smart kid and definitely knows when he’s doing something he’s not supposed to be doing. He’ll look at me dead in the eyes after I ask him to stop and continue on with his naughty antics. This little booger is well aware of what’s right and what’s wrong.

Most recently, my husband and I took our little munchkin to his colleague’s birthday dinner. We walk into the sushi joint and are immediately met by a group of people at the bar staring right back at us. Their faces say it all. Are we really here at such a fine establishment with a toddler? The host quickly escorts us to the back room where our party is situated and I begin to wonder if kids are even allowed here. Luckily, as soon as we enter the room, I see a group of maybe four children playing on their iPads as their parents converse over their bottle of wine.

We finally get settled in after saying our hellos and introducing our son. Now mind you, this restaurant doesn’t have the typical setup with its rows of tables and chairs. Instead, the restaurant is lined with sofas and love seats with coffee tables in the center to dine on. There are no high chairs in sight, so we plop our little guy on the sofa between us. He begins off well, not fussing or trying to wiggle out. He’s sitting there like a small adult even looking interested in the conversation. But then it all begins. He weasels his way down the sofa and begins playing with the sugars in the little, wooden container. Then he starts making a little cocktail for us. Tonight’s special is a glass of water garnished with 3 packets of sugar, some edamame, and squid from my squid salad. How lucky are we to have our own personal bartender? At least he’s stuck here with us, I think. But, I’ve spoken too soon. He begins to wander off to the party next to us and begins to take their sugar packets too. The couple looks amused, but I still feel embarrassed. I quickly scurry him away back to our table.

This continues on for the rest of the night. I am solely the one running around looking after him while my husband gets to engage with his friends like a normal human being. I feel like a robot. I have no sense of identity anymore. My only mission is to keep this little one alive and out of harm’s way. I begin to envy my husband. We kind of have this unspoken rule whenever we hang out with each other’s friends. If it were my group of friends, my husband would be on baby duty. It allows for each other to really be in the moment with our friends, rather than being half invested in the conversation and half invested in taking care of our child. But I begin to realize, as I redirect my child out of the kitchen, that something’s not right with this rule. It seems we are mostly hanging out with Mike’s friends or with Mike’s family, leaving me to do most of the baby chasing. It’s rare, but we hangout with my friends maybe once a month and visit my family maybe once every two months. On the other hand, we visit Mike’s family weekly and his friends maybe twice a month. I begin to feel overwhelmed, but I fight through it. They say the only way to get your child to behave in public settings is to just keep exposing them to these settings. But my inner self really just wishes we would have stayed home.

The night is still going strong, when I catch a strong whiff of my son’s diaper. I, of course, am the only one who will change his poopy diaper. I don’t expect there to be a changing table in the restroom, so I wheel my son in with his stroller to use as a makeshift changing table. Of course, the restroom door won’t even close as this stroller is far too big for this restroom. I decide to just leave the door open. As I’m rustling through the baby bag looking for a diaper, I decide to let my son down so I can place the changing pad on the stroller. Immediately, he runs for the one thing he knows will piss me off the most… the plunger. He grabs the plunger and I am livid. Why the hell do they leave the plunger in the restroom anyway? I am extremely frustrated as I pry the plunger away from him and lift him into the stroller. I begin to clean the explosion in his diaper and, like clockwork, he touches his dirty diaper. I want to scream, but I push through it and fight back the tears. I wash his hands along with mine and we head back to the party like nothing has happened. I am done at this point and just want to go home and live under a rock with my son. But I put on a happy face until the night is over.

As we make our way out of the parking lot, tears begin to fill my eyes again. It’s not because my son touched a plunger or threw his chicken on the ground, it’s because this whole mom thing is so hard and no one gives us all enough credit. Even though my husband helps out where he can, at the end of the day I feel like I’m doing this all alone. My husband works a harder job than I do, so I try to ease his load by taking on the responsibility of our son, laundry, cooking, and dishes. But sometimes, I just need a break or some sort of acknowledgement. Sometimes, I just feel like I’m drowning.

As the tears begin to stream down my face, I try to hide them. I don’t want to have to explain myself, but at the same time I’m hoping for some type of comfort. He continues driving and doesn’t notice. Lo and behold, as we drive along the expressway, my husband notices his colleague driving besides us. He immediately lowers my window in an attempt to get their attention. I have tears down my face and don’t know what to do. I quickly turn my whole body to the back seat and pretend to look for something in Maxon’s diaper bag. I have no idea if anyone’s noticed, but at this point I don’t care. We continue on into the night as I cry in silence.

All those Instagram moms with their bright-lit, neutral feeds ruin it for moms like us. They make it seem like motherhood is a cakewalk and that if you’re experiencing anything otherwise, you’re doing something wrong. This is not the case at all. Motherhood is one of the hardest things in the world. It doesn’t end, not even when you die. Even then, you’re expected to “look down” upon your offspring. It is an eternal commitment and at times can be extremely overwhelming. So if you need a good cry, do it. Pop open that bottle of wine. Schedule that massage. Run that marathon. Just kidding, please don’t run that marathon. That sounds horrible. But whatever it is you need to do to maintain your sanity, do it. I know I love a good cry from time to time.

Even though my son is going through this phase of exploration and destructiveness, I’m still glad I get to spend everyday with him. So I’ll keep cleaning the messes, changing the diapers, and chasing after him as long as he needs me to, because one day, he won’t need me to anymore. And if you’re child is anything like mine, just know you are not alone and we can do this, even if it’s only one day at a time. This phase is temporary and one day we’ll be able to sit down at a fine restaurant without tears in our eyes.

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