Let’s start this post by traveling back in time a few years to “Pre-baby”. My husband and I went out to eat for around 50% of our meals….I love to cook, but let’s be honest it’s pretty nice to have someone else do all the work for you. I never necessarily minded families with kids/babies, but I did always wonder… How do you keep them calm the whole time?? Man, what do you do if they start crying?? Of course, there was always the mom that carried on as if their baby wasn’t screaming their head off or the dad that didn’t hesitate to harshly discipline their children in public, but I certainly didn’t see us adopting either of these methods.
Throughout my pregnancy there was an overwhelming fear every time we went out….
“Oh my gosh. I’m doomed to eat at home for the next 5 years.”
Well, we hit the 7 month milestone and while our pocketbook occasionally screams “better eat at home” we manage to survive a few lunch and dinner outings with friends and family. While the majority of these go on without a glitch, I still find myself sweating the entire meal just waiting for something to go wrong. Yes, I realize this may seem ridiculous….let me share the first of our experiences that led me to enter this state of panic at the mere mention of a family dinner.
Linc was about 7 weeks when we were asked to go out for the first time (when he wasn’t eating well and before he had been prescribed any meds). Regardless of our hesitation we loaded up and prayed for the best. Our plan (yes, we had a plan…do you not know me??) was to keep him in the car seat, eat quickly and hope he stayed asleep. Fail proof, right? Ha. What were thinking? No family allows you to get away without holding your precious new baby!! And who wants to say “No, you can’t hold him right now, he may cry”? Fifteen minutes after getting seated my little Linc was being passed back my way to be calmed down. I felt like the worst new mom in existence. That dinner consisted of no more than 3 bites of salad and maybe a half sip of my water. Needless to say my husband got an earful of, “we are never going back out to eat again” on the drive home.
I was traumatized. Ramen Noodles & Spaghetti here we come.
It took about a month before our next attempt. Though much smoother, Linc and I still made our rounds outside when he became sleepy and my meal had to be sent home in a box. Luckily, each time out became easier. I understand now that even if I go in with a plan there will always be that chance of chaos when I have my little one with me. I just try my best to be prepared. Prepared for everyone to try and give him the food I really don’t want him to have. Prepared for those little hands to find their way into my salad dressing and right back to my face. And especially prepared to suck it up when things don’t go just right. After all, whether I get to enjoy every bit of that delicious burger I’d waited all day for or if I have to scarf it down on the ride home….spending time with our families is always worth it.
I know now that it’s not always as easy as taking your baby outside when they cry either. When you have mothers, sisters, friends, etc. telling you they aren’t bothering anyone and insist you stay at the table it’s pretty difficult to go against them. My mom put it this way, “No one cares that he is fussy, Cait. Every baby cries. All we care about is getting to spend time with you guys and loving on Lincoln.” Every baby cries. Duh. I have to remind myself of this each time we go out. For some reason I had convinced myself that if Lincoln cries in public people will think I’m a bad mother. Why I’ve allowed myself to think this way is beyond me, but I’m starting to recognize just how ridiculous it is. So next time you see me out at Chili’s and I have pit stains….remind me that every baby cries and tell me to chill out. J
And if you’re one to get annoyed and give the evil eye to those who have an upset little one at the table next to you….Go ahead and start sitting in the bar from now on or go eat after 8:00pm. Problem solved. You’re welcome.