It began like any other meal, I loaded her up in her highchair, snapped on her bib, and began to scan the adult menu and the kid's menu... OH the pressure.. I was having to work fast because I knew I had to have my order ready by the time the waitress came back. No time to spare when it comes to the hunger of my child. Before the waitress even had the chance to come to the table Madison began screaming with impatience. I whipped out my snacks and gave her some dried apples. That worked long enough for me to order. Soon after she began to spit out the apples and scream again. I don't mean scream crying, I mean screaming a high pitch scream. Luckily I was there with two other moms who were prepared. They passed me mandarin oranges, pretzels, crackers, peaches, crayons (yes.. she tried to eat those too) and that seemed to help. I was frazzled long before the food came out. I could feel the glares and the sighs around me. I avoided all of their eyes. People without kids trying to have a peaceful lunch. I have been there... I have thought and said "Get control of your kids... my goodness.... geeze..." Oh the regret... I picked her up and she started dancing to the music while standing in my lap. Fine.. what ever it takes.. After what seemed like hours the food FINALLY arrived. As Madison squealed and whined I began tearing apart her pizza, blowing on it and placing it in front of her. As soon as I put a piece down she picked it up, I couldn't keep up. I was eyeing my own grilled chicken sandwich with bacon, cheese, and fried onions (don't judge me... I need my energy). Finally, I was able to turn to my sandwich. I tried to make conversation, take a few bites of my delicious sandwich all the while eyeing Madison's dwindling supply of food... uggggghhhh... So the cycle of tearing food into bite size pieces continued. And then... she was finished.. I had barely eaten half of my sandwich and she was through. I may have mentioned in the past that when she decides she's finished she no longer wants her food around her. Like she can't stand the sight of it... so she tosses it way faster than I can play defense. I pulled back her highchair and surveyed the floor. There is more food on the floor than I think she ever had on her plate. I leaned over to pick up the food because I would rather die than leave that for the waitress. As I'm leaned over Madison begins to pull on my hair.. HARD. And did I mention that I have not yet cleaned her hands of tomato sauce, cheese, and Mandarin oranges? I try to minimize my scream and I reach back to pry my hair out of her hands all the while I hear the snickers around me. I think I said out loud "Oh I'm so embarrassed"..... I sat up and tried to smooth back my hair. I wiped Madison down and turned back to my sandwich as it beckons me... I take another bite and out of my eye I see contents of my diaper bag heading toward the floor. I left it within arms reach.... ohhhhh.... at this point... I'm DONE. Finished. I take one last bite as she lets out yet another scream. CHECK PLEASE!!! As I'm walking out I look back at our table.. It's covered in baby wipes, napkins, juice, broken crayons, and the floor is worse much worse. I'm half expecting a manager to stop us on the way out and ban us forever... or at least rethink their "kids eat free" policy.
Gone are mornings sipping coffee in front of the fire at Panera bread while my infant sleeps, gone are my quiet casual lunches with friends, gone are lazy Friday night dinners with our easily entertained or sleeping infant.... I've traded my baby for a toddler! At that very same lunch another mom told me.. "yep, you're there... it will take about a month of adjustment, but then you'll love it!" Bring it on.. BRING IT ON!