Or, Perhaps the Worst Part of Parenting
Most days I am confident in my parenting capabilities. Then there are days like today that kick me in the butt and continue to pummel me while I’m down.
Today we had an appointment to get our 3 new car seats installed. This has to be one of the most challenging parts of parenthood. It seems like you need an engineering degree just to be able to pick out the right seat, install it, and use it correctly. Statistically, 90% of parents who get their car seats checked have installed them incorrectly. To me, that’s a glaring problem – not the fault of the parents, but the manufacturers who have made these seats almost impossible to use correctly. In the case of one of our car seats, the manual didn’t address a certain installation issue, and we had to call the manufacturer directly. And it was an issue most all parents wouldn’t have known to even ask about. Two hours. Two hours to install car seats this morning. And it required all of my husband’s strength and additional support from the technician. But a pregnant mother with impatient children under her supervision is supposed to be able to do this on her own??? It’s like the chips are stacked against us.
The configuration was less than ideal once all was said and done, but after two hours laboring to get them in, a super-fussy toddler, and a bladder that was about to burst, I was just ready to be done. The seat that was supposed to be Ellis’s was turned rear-facing in the center for Asher to use, with Ellis’s old car seat on the passenger side and the infant seat behind the driver’s side. The recline on Asher’s seat was so low he was practically lying on his back and for me to strap him in, I have climb in on either side, squeeze on top of one of the other seats, and wrestle with Asher to get him buckled because he fights getting in his seat every time. Again, less than ideal.
After leaving the car seat check, I asked Trav to follow me to the nearest fast food restaurant so I could run in and use the restroom without having to get Asher back out of the car. Afterward, Asher screamed the entire ride to Ellis’s school. I sang to him, tried to hold his hand, stroked his head, but he was unrelenting. I had no more snacks for him because he had eaten them all during the two hours it took to get the seats installed. I should add, he hasn’t screamed in the car since he was an infant. (Okay, there was one time that he was tired and couldn’t reach his water, but we were close to home so it didn’t last long.)
We got to Ellis’s school in time to pick her up. That’s right. My morning consisted of dropping Ellis off, getting the car seats installed, and immediately driving back to pick her up. I figured we could take a breath after getting her, and the kids would play on the playground for a while after school like we usually do. Only this day, as the two were running from the classroom to the playground, Ellis tripped and scrapped her knee and both hands. She’s bleeding and crying. Asher starts crying again.
I am fully aware that this is a spectacle with many observers. I know I shouldn’t care what people think about me in the moment, but I do. Especially the grandparents of one of Ellis’s classmates, who were waiting to pick her up from class. We had met them at her birthday party on Friday night, and again, of course, my kids were the only ones who cried and were upset at the party (Ellis didn’t want to play the party games. She just wanted to play with toys and eat cake. Asher didn’t want me to help feed him). Embarrassing then, too. My kids are usually super easy, tough, resilient, happy, fun-loving kids. I’ve always been proud of how I’ve been raising them, but moments like these I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing and I’m completely failing. And I’m worried others in these moments think the same thing.
I find a way to pick Ellis and Asher both up (made Ellis stand on a bench) and carry them to the car where I have a first aid kit. I clean and bandage Ellis up, assuring her it won’t sting and which band-aid does she want, while Asher makes trouble in the car without my ability to supervise him. Then it’s time to strap them in, and Ellis learns that Asher is the one who gets to sit in her new car seat. She starts crying again, completely upset that she has now been misinformed twice (we told her she was going to get to sit in the third row, which we later learned she couldn’t because it doesn’t have a top tether for her car seat. Then I was informed this morning that the purple Diono Radian RXT that I purchased for her wouldn’t grow with her past the next year, so the technician chose to use it for Asher, who could use it longer, and keep her in her Graco that will grow with her for longer). I’m hunched over her trying to finagle Asher into the middle seat that he despises and his sister doesn’t want him in. He starts having a fit of rage. Both kids are beyond upset. I am emotionally tanked at this point. I call Trav just so I can cry to him instead of unleashing my emotions on the kids who are already distraught. I realize he is busy and doesn’t have time to deal with our relative problem, but I just need to let it out. So I do, with the kids crying in the back seat.
They have both exhausted themselves with their tears and are napping, and I am now, with the help of this post, stabilizing. I was hoping this car seat appointment was going to be a huge check off my to-do list and bring relief that we are finally ready for this baby to come. Now I feel like I’m back at square one. We need to return the new seat we had purchased for Asher and either buy the angle adjuster for the Diono, or possibly return it and find something more user friendly that would allow us to put Ellis back in the middle and Asher on the side. I am THIS CLOSE to asking Trav if we can trade in my beautiful GX460 that he spent a lot of time researching, finding, and driving to Miami to purchase, for a minivan.