Since we parked at Paul's office, this trip also involved a trip on the Metro, which is no easy feat with two kids and a stroller. Got to find all the elevators and push the stroller with one hand while holding tightly with the other hand to Charlie's little hand and all that. And try to find a seat and make sure the stroller isn't in the way of all the people exiting the train, etc. Some of these maneuvers make me feel like a professional mom but also kind of like a tourist in my own town. I wanted to explain to all these people that I used to ride the train every day and could have done it walking backwards with my eyes closed and had the Metro map memorized in a former life. "I'm not a tourist! Honest!"
But the Metro ride did not disappoint the kids. Good call, Mom--scored points there. The museum was a different story. Oh, we had fun, but a lot of it was the mom-invented sort of fun, like finding a mostly deserted exhibit area and letting the boy out of the stroller to chase him and his sister around a little. They did most certainly enjoy looking at the suspended airplanes and spacecraft, but not much else. I think this museum is maybe a little too advanced for my small kids.
I used to feel like we had to spend a certain amount of time at a place to sort of "get our money's worth." Not that we spent anything--the Smithsonians are free--but you know what I mean. Get my effort's worth, I guess. But I'm realizing that we only need to spend as much time as proves enjoyable. If I push my luck beyond that, I'm totally asking for a public meltdown (call that foreshadowing).
After we'd seen enough, I towed the children into the museum shop to see if we could find a trinket or a book or something that wouldn't cost an arm and a leg or break in five minutes. As soon as Judah spotted the bin of 4-inch plastic airplanes, it was all over. So I picked up a couple and happily realized they weren't quite as cheap as I'd expected and purchased those along with a book on the history of flight (for my dad for Father's Day--he's a pilot and will hopefully enjoy this book and I really hope he doesn't check my blog before he gets his gift). Meltdown
Since it was nearing lunchtime and I knew that these two were absolutely not going to survive the long trek back to Capitol Hill (was not going to attempt the train again) and then the ride home without something to eat, we decided to have a light lunch at the museum's food court. Okay, if I'm going to be completely honest, I'm going to have to admit that secretly I really wanted to do lunch at the food court. The Air and Space Museum's food court happens to serve Donato's Pizza, which is a chain that was started in Paul's hometown of Columbus, Ohio, and it happens to be a real treat for the Callahan family. One of his sisters in particular practically foams at the mouth over the thought of Donato's and is quite jealous that we have such access, since it is not available in her current city. Anyway, so we split our little Donato's pizza (for $10 bucks with a bottle of water!), and then it happened. I made the mistake of buying a vanilla cone to share.
Maybe all you-know-what broke loose because he was tired, or maybe it was the sugar intake (albeit, very small sugar intake due to the ridiculously cute way he licks ice cream with just the teeniest tip of his tongue), or maybe because I'd ordered ONE cone for all three of us to share, but OH MY GOODNESS. Seriously. The food court was absolutely filled with tourists, school kids, and who knows who else, and you could hear MY child above it all. He wanted to hold the cone. So I let him. Then I had to keep taking it away--scream after scream after scream--so that Charlie and I could actually eat it so that we could get the heck out of there. The only exit is through the museum, and you can't take food in there. I wasn't about to throw it away and then deal with the inevitable simultaneous meltdowns. By this point, I was sweating and wishing I hadn't taken on this whole day. What was I thinking? This morning I was whistling, "I'm going to take my lovely children on an outing to the city. We're going to a MUSEUM! Oh, what a lovely day we will have. I'm such a good mom." By now my feet were killing me, I was so stressed out, and I still had the walk back to the car.
To end the suspense, we survived. The walk to the car was actually quite enjoyable. Judah ended up falling asleep (ah!), we stopped in to see Paul again, and he walked us down to the garage to see us off. Then Judah slept for another hour when we got home, and I actually napped for a bit, too! And Charlie didn't complain, because I let her watch a few cartoons on the computer while I dozed. Score.
I did actually really enjoy my day. And I know the kids did, too. I know that I just need to chill and go with the flow, which is what I'm trying to do. Later this afternoon, after my few very short moments of quiet, I threw the kids outside to burn off the last of their energy while I cooked dinner. I was actually skyping with my mom and sister and asked mom, "When does a mom get to relax? When will this get easier?" Her reply: "I'm still waiting."