A couple of weekends ago, two of my best friends from college came to town for the weekend. Another friend, who lives just two towns over, offered to host a family brunch so we could all spend some time together. It was going to be 5 couples with 5 kids- our 2-year-olds, two 19 month old singletons, and a 9 month old baby. Normally, this is the type of invitation that my husband and I would respectfully decline, but these were my closest friends.
Ten minutes into the brunch, it became very clear why we don’t attend events such as these. There we were, in this very lovely, though not at all baby/childproofed apartment, and I was feeling stressed to the max about all the breakable things at 2-year-old eye level just waiting to be discovered by my curious and determined toddlers. There were picture frames, wine bottles, an iPod docking station, tons of books (unfortunately, not ones for kids), and numerous other decorative items. The hosts had a non-mobile 9 month old and had left every room in their apartment open for exploration. Not a baby gate to be found.
The longer we stayed the crankier I felt. All of my friends with their one kid traded their child back and forth between Mommy and Daddy so that one parent could eat and socialize while the other was on kid duty. Meanwhile my husband and I were busy following our kids around the apartment, preventing them from touching the numerous things not meant for little hands, and trying to lure them back to the main room with a few of their favorite toys we’d brought from home. When it was finally time to eat, we occupied the kids with fruit salad while we shoveled food into our mouths as quickly as we could, hoping to get enough to eat before the kids became full and interested in other things.
I felt exhausted and sad when we left, realizing just how much work it had been to participate in this fun-for-the-whole-family event and knowing that, in the end, I had not had one meaningful interaction or conversation with any of my friends. It occurred to me that perhaps if we did this sort of thing more often, we would have better strategies for these types of situations. But it also occurred to me that when you have two little ones, these things are never easy.