When the topic of my family dynamic comes up, (triplets and a younger brother with special needs) I love when people say to me, “I don’t know how you do it.” I inside giggle nearly every time. Because the truth is, I honestly don’t know. I am just flying by the seat of my pants, winging the damn thing most days.
Last month, we took a trip to visit family across the country. Two adults, 4 kids, 6 backpacks, suitcases, blankets, booster seats, iPads, snacks, valium (jokes) and a whole lot of happy chaos flew 2600 miles from MA to UT. It was a gigantic week packed with cousins, Thanksgiving, a Jazz game, a wedding reception, a baptism, a road race, family pictures, late nights, early mornings, and nonstop fun from dawn til dusk. I know most people, kids or not, can relate to being out of your normal routine for more than a few days. It can get rough.
On one of these marathon days, we took family pictures. I have loads of nieces and nephews and a gaggle of siblings. We are scattered hither and thither and it is rare when we are all gathered in the same place at once! The pressure of getting these pictures just right (and keep in mind my five year old does not respond to bribes and bargaining like the rest of my crew, so he is always a wild card of behavior and antics) was slightly stressful. But we made it through with minimal tears from only a handful. Then we all went to lunch and only one tray of food spilled, and that was at the very end, so lunch was a (stressful) success.
Anyway, on the way home, my triplets started fighting. I gave them a calm warning to please be kind and we were almost to my brother’s house where the reward of ice cream was waiting for them for (ahem) ‘being so good’ during the pictures. Despite my calm plea for peace and quiet, someone was still looking at or breathing on or just existing in the wrong way, and the fighting continued. A second calm request to stop and then a third when we stopped at the gas station. Nope. Still fighting. My husband had gone inside so I had no backup, and the shrieks were getting worse. My non verbal 5 year old seemed to be enjoying the noise and wanted in. So he did this monosyllabic, really loud yell, like some sort of backup singer to the argument chorus. So then. My lid blew. I turned around and said, (I yelled) “THAT’S IT! I’M DONE!” And I got out of the car.
Once I was outside of the car, I realized I didn’t know what my next move was. Was I walking the rest of the way? Hitchhiking to Vegas? No plan. I looked around for moment, walked toward the back of the rental car we were in and took a deep breath. I peered in the back of the car and popped the door open. Huh. Suburbans are pretty roomy in the back. I climbed in, shut the door and curled up like a wounded animal.
My husband got in the car and before he could even ask my kids where I was, “Mom is in the back of the car!” I had two sets of eyes peeking at me from the seat in front of me. And like the instinctive rock star he is, as if I always slither into the backs of cars in an exhaustive heap, all he said was, “Turn around guys, buckle up,” and drove to my brother’s house for ice cream.
Everyone quietly got out of the car when we got there and I closed my eyes and had the most glorious 10 minutes of solitude. When I realized I couldn’t open the door from where I was and had no desire or energy to scamper over the seats, I texted the family thread for someone to come let me out. My brother, (another rock star dad and husband who did not even side eye my back seat move) popped the door then went inside and made me an ice cream cone.
So that’s one way I do it? Hide in rental cars. Cheers to hoping you give yourself your own time out when needed!