The other night I realized how life with kids changes your perception of calm and chaos. Achieving the calming state is much more difficult with kids. I don’t know if I’m ever truly calm. Whether they are around me or not, I’m constantly stressing over the next outing, the last tantrum, the next meal, the last mess. It never ends. Some days, I find calm in the car. On the way to school/daycare, the kids can be so quiet and pensive that it is calming, and when I get back in the car after dropping them off, I can feel almost calm amidst the remaining quiet (at least for the 3 minute drive to work). But that might be the extent of my calm.
Chaos is more typical for us. Which is why when we went to Austin Grill for dinner the other night, it was not intimidating. We had forgotten it was Free Kids Meal night or something, so when we walked in and saw the place teeming with little ones, it was a little surprising. But it did not deter us. In reality, that kind of thing almost encourages us to stay. Like any other loud, kid-friendly restaurant, we embrace the chaos because it means our kids might be preoccupied or stimulated enough to not whine or complain about their dinner. This was the case the other night.
Cooper was looking all over the place, eating his chicken nuggets without protest or throwing of food. Mason was loving the older girl sitting next to us that kept waving at her so much that she barely complained that food was not at the table as soon as we ordered it. After eating, Mason went to enjoy the band’s music on stage. She didn’t want to dance with the other kids; she just wanted to stand close to feel like she was a part of it. This is common of her in social situations – not necessarily joining the action, but definitely not wanting to leave it either.
After paying the patient waiter (I’ve come to learn that it takes a special waitstaff to deal with Kids Nights at any restaurant. It is usually not the top waiters because you have to earn your seniority, right? But nonetheless, these people need patience!), we gathered everything up and headed home. When we got the kids in their carseats and started pulling out of the garage, I realized that I was somewhat calm. I wasn’t stressing over anything at that precise moment. How could that be? I had just been in a loud, chaotic restaurant with tons of kids, loud music, and a stinky bathroom, but I was calm. I asked Jeremy if he felt the same. He agreed. We were all calm. Could it be that the chaos has become our calming factor? Could it be that we are so used to the chaos, that it is having a reverse effect on us? I’m still puzzled by this, but I am going to embrace it. It was a good night (except for the haircut I got before dinner, but that’s a whole different story!) I did not have to bribe my kids to eat their dinner. I did not have to use a loud demanding voice to get them to not run far ahead. Everyone was calm. Everyone was relaxed. Will I ever find this calm again? Will I be forced to endure more restaurant Kids Nights to get back to that same state? I hope not. I hope I have learned something from all this – that chaos with kids does not have to be stressful. It can, in fact, be just what I need.