We went to the zoo again, and I think we were there for maybe an hour. Maybe.
We left because I couldn't handle it.
It was crowded, and I felt thankful for our membership, as the non-member line spread at least an hour's wait outside the door, and into the beautiful blue-sky, sunny-day air.
The baby whined the entire time to get up from her stroller, and I don't blame her. Because she's not a baby anymore. She's a tiny toddler. And she should be walking around and not sitting still.
But I'm a mom alone, in a sea of human beings, with two kids that don't easily listen and stay close to me. So I ordered the "baby" a leash.
I always said I wouldn't be one of those parents who put her kid on a freaking leash, except to hike in nature, like I saw one time three days into our first backpacking trip together, with my husband-then-boyfriend, when we were probably around 21, and kids weren't really part of my thinking at all.
A leash like that would be okay, but not at the grocery store or inside of the zoo.
Except for now I can't even go to the grocery store.
The baby refuses to sit in the cart, and she won't even hold my hand as we walk through the glass-jar covered aisles (which alone is hard enough, pushing the cart and also keeping my eye on my oldest). So I got a leash, and I'm hoping that it's the miracle I need, because these last few days have made me feel like I'm not cut out for this mothering gig.
I'm already not a great housekeeper, or even that good at staying on top of the dirty laundry. I would make a totally shitty housewife, if I was one, which I'm not, because I adamantly told my husband early on in my stay-at-home motherhood that I am staying home to spend time with my child, not to iron shirts (if I had an ironing board -- or an iron).
This isn't to say that part of my "job" isn't to teach my girls how to be self-sufficient, or to be self-sufficient myself -- how to wash clothes, and do dishes and pick up our messes -- because it is, and it's not because I'm a wife and because they're girls, but because I want them to be independent when they grow up.
So, I bought a leash, and I'm nearly afraid to use it; to potentially find out that it's not the sanity-saving device I'm crossing my fingers for it to be.
I tried it on her, and it has these cute little butterfly wings on the back. This was intentional, since she loves playing dress up. Trying it on around the house, however, she tried to hold the little loop at the end of the leash, and, essentially, walk herself -- which negates this entire purpose of the leash.
So fingers are crossed and silent prayers are sent up that I'm better at being a mom than I feel like I am right now, on spring break with two pent-up little girls who give Mommy near-panic attacks as we head out into public, and they both misbehave, and my face gets hot, and my armpits sweat, and I feel like everyone is silently looking at me, wondering why I'm the mother of these two kids I can't always control.
Except for even more important than going to the grocery store for more juice and more milk for my current lifesaver -- coffee -- or the opinions of strangers that don't matter, are these little girls' lives that I'm in charge of guiding, and that I feel like I fail at multiple times a day with my short temper and sometimes-invisible capacity for stress.
I hope they grow older, and laugh together about the baby's butterfly leash, or they recount that we went to the zoo two days in a row, and completely forget that it was only for an hour both days (and that counts bathroom trips and snacks, too).
I'm not sure we'll go back to the zoo tomorrow. (After all, we have gymnastics lessons.)
I'm not sure I'm ready either.
My neck still aches despite my trying to yoga-practice it away, from this unbelievable pressure I'm in--of raising two little kids; this overwhelming responsibility that I'm occasionally too busy to truly notice, and often so unshakably aware of.
But today was a better day than yesterday, and sometimes, as a parent, that's all you really can cross your fingers for -- that and that they'll remember more of what I do right than anything else.