Thursday, July 7, 2011

Awkward Mom vs. Spontaneity

When Super Toddler wants to see zebras, it is best to heed the call.

I am not very spontaneous. In fact, I was born a planner. A full out, to-do-list, 5-year-plan, organized-sock-drawer planner. The whole shooting match, and I come by it naturally. The women in my family are dedicated and meticulous planners. My father is known to say that if the women of the Awkward Family had been present at creation, they would have handed God a detailed list (with graphs) on how to improve His efficiency in life-creating. My father (the font of wisdom) also maintains that women in the Awkward Clan possess a very specific and unique superpower called Happy Feet, which, interestingly enough, has very little to do with feet (let alone dancing penguins) and more to do with a deep-seated phobia of dirty dishes and a relentless compulsion to rearrange furniture. And while I am still moving my couch placement about every 2 weeks, like clockwork, I have long given up my membership in the planner club. (Shush, don't tell my mom.)

I can even remember the exact day that I dropped out. It was 3 years, 4 months, 2 weeks, and 6 days ago. That was the day we were supposed to meet Super Toddler. (He was technically going by Super Fetus back then, but let's not be confusing.) That was his due date. A due date he completely and totally ignored. He happily shrugged his little shoulders (I know, because I felt it) and decided to stay where he was. He did this despite all of the carefully harvested time off, packed bags, arriving grandmothers, and painted nursery. He laughed in there as I begged him to come on, hurry up, let's go. (not a whole lot has changed on that front either), and he continued to snuggle and poke the equivalent of "one more minute, Mom" to me for the next 10 days. When he finally made his rock star entrance, it was not particularly willing, but urged on by a bevy of medical personal and a huge helping of Pitocin.

This radically altered my life. (Like becoming a mother wasn't change enough....) Super Toddler is no planner (Awkward Dad and all the men in the Awkward family aren't either, so I suppose this should come as no surprise), and he has shown signs of being a stop-to-smell-the-roses fellow from day 1. This has forced me to be a lot more spontaneous and relaxed as a person. OK, well, let me honest. I am working on the relaxed part. I have gone from someone who used to be early for everything, planned every minute of the day, had carefully maintained lists about what the process was for cleaning the kitchen to someone, well, a lot more like Super Toddler. It has mostly been a good transformation and I am learning to go with the flow. You planners out there know exactly how hard that is, and I still struggle with it.

Like today's request, for example. Today, at breakfast, Super Toddler casually announces that he would like to see zebras and we should go to the zoo. I look at him, he looks at me, and I figure he is probably right. Today is a good day to see some zebras. I say yes and immediately hear this stifled little scream from deep inside. At first, I thought Super Fetus was showing him/herself to be extremely precocious and speaking a tad early, but no, it turned out to be the teeny, tiny last vestige of my planner self. She hangs on in there, you know, much like the telemarketers that keep calling, regardless of how many times you hang up on them. She is extremely upset and I shall tell you why in list form, showing that she is not altogether without some hold on me:

1. We are eating breakfast at 10:30 in the morning. This is mostly due to Awkward Dad's new schedule; he is working 12pm-10pm. This has caused all the drama you would expect, but that is a different post entirely.

2. Everyone who is everyone knows that you should arrive at the zoo 5 minutes before they open to get a good parking space.

3. The zoo opened a half hour before Super Toddler's pronouncement.

4. The zoo is 1 state and 49.5 miles away.

5. Everyone who is everyone knows that you must pack a picnic lunch the night before a zoo trip; complete with sandwiches, iced drinks, fresh fruits, and a large supply of healthful snacks, which your children will reject the moment they see the snowcones and hot dogs being hawked on every corner of the zoo.

6. I have packed no picnic lunch.

7. Our cooler kinda smells funny.

8. I have only been to this zoo once and am pretty sure I don't remember how to get there.

9. I have never been to any zoo with both Super Boys without Awkward Dad's assistance and, more importantly, ability to give piggy-back rides.

10. Everyone who is everyone knows that zoo trips are not something you decide to do on the spur of the moment, but something that takes carefully planning, organizing, and thought.

Man, that little planner still has it! And yet, despite that impressive list (ending in a 10, how orderly), we still leave for the zoo. At 11:46am. With a bottle of water, 2 peanut butter sandwiches, and some grapes. Do I question the wisdom of this decision along the way? Well......I really couldn't say. Do I think that this might not be the best idea when Super Toddler falls asleep 5 minutes after we enter the city limits of Toledo? Maybe. Do I worry that my inner planner could be right after I get lost 3 times trying to find the zoo? Perhaps. Do I complete lose it and nearly start to cry when I get lost a 4th time and really, really have to go to the bathroom. Well.....yes, yes, I am gonna cop to that one. That one sends me into total panic mode. But then, like an oasis out of the Sahara, the zoo (and its numerous bathrooms) pops into view.

I awaken both Super Boys, shove them into the unwieldy double stroller that I hate but know I am gonna love when Super Toddler gets tired and starts asking to be carried, and begin our barge-like approach from our parking space (I think it might be the last one in the parking lot) to the zoo entrance.

Now, I know that you all know what the zoo looks (and feels) like on a July afternoon, so I am not gonna bore you. Let's get to the good stuff; pictures!

Super Baby, still fresh and happy, as we begin our zoo journey.

The most beautiful butterfly I have ever seen.

One of many "rests."

I had to physically restrain Super Baby from jumping into the pool with the seals.

We ride the carousel this visit. Super Toddler is on a hippo and Super Baby is on a baboon, which somehow seemed to make sense. See the sheen they are sporting? Zoo in July, remember, and they spent most of the trip riding in the stroller. I apologize if your imagination just tried to picture what I must have looked like.

Super Toddler and some giraffe antics.

How Super Baby spent most of the zoo visit....note the sandwich.

So, the $64,000 question: Was it worth it? Was this spontaneous zoo trip worth violating every rule and truth that my inner planner holds near and dear? Was it worth the sweat, exhaustion, gas money, irritations (including finding out that the zebras are literally the farthest animal from where we parked), unexpected expenses (i.e. snowcones), and stress. Well......I shall answer you in the form of a picture:


Interestingly enough, we have no pictures of the zebras and the one that we saw was a tiny white and black blur clear on other side of the enclosure. Oh well, there is always next time....tomorrow is looking wide open....


  1. Brings back wonderful memories of when your mom & I (and the elder Awkwards) took YOU and your brothers to places of interest In Chicago. I even think you had the same expressions as Super Baby & Super Toddler at the end of YOUR day!

  2. Very cute pictures, just loved watching them all.