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Having "Lunch" with a Baby in tow

Am I the only one (please, lie if I am the only one) who feels like my head is spinning when I go anywhere with my child? My attention is pretty constantly divided. She's only 6 months old and not yet mobile, so she does still require quite a bit of my attention. But see if this scenario sounds familiar to you:

A friend says, hey let's have lunch! The kids can play (which at 6 months old or younger is a stretch. I'm lucky if she plays on her own for any amount of time.)

You think, yes! Totally. That would be fun. We can get out of the house, be entertained. If we leave right after nap time we will have TONS of time until we have to be back for the next nap.  Like...2 hrs or something! Loads of time.

So after nap, you're getting the last few things ready, pack up the car and on your way you go. If you're lucky, this actually does happen on time.
You get there and it's all, how are you, look at the kids playing, chit chat, catch up. And half an hour just went by. But things are still going good. You continue to attempt to have grown up conversation while this other mental dialogue is going on in your brain, "Is it ok to leave my baby alone for a few minutes on the floor?? Will she fuss? Oh no, she's good. Entertained by the older kids. Perfect. Back to my conversation, oh wait, one of her kids needs something. Oh, back to our conversation. Oh wait, look what the kids are doing! How cute! What was she saying? Oh yeah. Ok."

Then there's meal time. It's difficult enough to eat a meal when the baby is awake and you're by yourself. Now add in, keeping baby occupied when she's just learning to eat solids, carrying on a conversation and also trying to feed yourself. I almost always come away from a meal like that still hungry. I don't even really remember what the food tasted like. Another inner monologue ensues, "oh good, she can just sit here and play while we eat and talk. Oh, nope, she's fussing...eyeing my food. Well, I'll give her some watermelon to suck on. She'll like that. Oh she does like it! Wow, she just got a bite out of it. Is she choking? Uuuh - oh, ok there it is. Whew she coughed it up. Ok, maybe not watermelon. Stick to banana. Stick to what we know for now." All the while trying to continue this grown up conversation stuff that I do remember having at one point in my life. Wait, have I asked her anything about her?? Am i just answering her questions like I'm being interviewed? Gosh, it's so nice to talk to another adult. Another mom who understands! That's right. She understands, she knows I'm not being rude. But I can do this, enough about me, what about her?

Happy baby turns fussy. Time to nurse. Be right back! I really don't mind nursing in front of people, especially other moms, but baby is another story. She is sooooo very distractible. When I do try to nurse her around other people (even daddy. Or especially daddy. She loves him.) she pops on and off, on and off, exposing me to the world OR she's completely uninterested, regardless of how starving she might be. "There are things and people to look at, mom! Please don't bother me with your vain attempts to nourish me."
"Excuse me!" I say. "So sorry I bothered you. I'll be sure to wait until you're strapped into your car seat and we are on the way home and then you decide to eat. Then you can scream and cry inconsolably for what feels like hours but is actually only a few minutes until we are home where you can root around like crazy, trying to latch onto my shoulder, until i can sit down in a chair and get everything out and ready. Then you can nurse ravenously like you haven't eaten in days.

But back to our conversation. Ugh, the time is running short. Where did those two hours go?? Why do two hours at home pass so much more slowly? Did we even really get to talk about anything? We say our goodbyes, and get back in the car. I drive home with that "head is spinning" feeling, reviewing the conversations and trying to remember what was said and if I remembered to say thank you for lunch. There is something to be said for visits without children present. But I will say this: I am so grateful for even the distracted visits with good friends. In spite of my ditractedness and theirs and other responsibilities that now cloud my mind, it does my soul good to be in the presence of those friends. It reminds me that I'm not alone in this crazy journey of motherhood.

The enemy loves to isolate us, get us alone and fill our minds with thoughts of how we are failing or not good enough. So even though it's different now, it's important to spend time together. Sometimes that's with kids in tow, but aren't kids so entertaining too?? And I forgot to mention how my friend (whose kids are slightly older, mobile and can more or less take care of themselves now) held my squirmy child so that I could finish my lunch and taste my food. I've wanted to be part of this "mom club" for quite a while. And even though sometimes it's more than I bargained for, it is so, so, SO worth it.

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