You'd think after doing this "I have two children" thing for a few years, I'd have my act together. My juggling act, that is. I thought that by now I'd have it down to such a science that people would pay admission to see it operate so smoothly.
[Insert annoyingly loud game show buzzing sound now.]
That's what makes this parenting job so interesting. Just when I think I've hit my stride, my world tilts a tenth of a degree off its axis, leaving me hanging on to the walls and hoping my grandmother's vase doesn't get broken in the shift.
Recently, my son had a baseball game while my husband was out of town. I brought along a huge bag of stuff to keep his younger sister occupied during the 1.5 hour deal. There was enough stuff in this bag to keep a little kid busy for weeks, with a variety of activities, toys, princess accessories and lest we not forget, snacks!
And yet, my daughter shunned the 10-pound bag of fun, instead opting to bound up and down the bleachers next to the dugout. This activity included, but was not limited to, falling through one of the spaces between the rows and sliding down like a wet noodle to the concrete below, scaring the crap out of me and all the other parents in our vicinity.
Luckily, the bench she fell off of was pretty low, there was no crying or blood and it pretty much nipped her will to bleacher-run in the bud.
But while this was happening? My son was hitting a double. And I missed it.
One day, I hope to get this delicate balance figured out. How to spread my attention between both kids so that I can applaud the efforts of a home run while simultaneously coaxing the other child away from that over-eager dog at a nearby tree.
Multi-tasking at its best, parenting more than one child requires the hand-eye coordination of a juggler. Lose focus on one ball up in the air, and the whole act can come crashing down.
I haven't mastered that skill yet. The one that can miraculously have eyes in two separate directions. Or even better, the ability to be in two places at once.
When my daughter was a mere 3 months old, we took her to her very first baseball game at Coors Field. She was the same age as when we took my son to his first game, and it went so well, we thought we could tempt fate and try it with the new baby.
My daughter was an angel on the way in to the stadium, falling asleep on my chest, held in by the Bjorn, and staying that way for the first two innings. When she finally woke, she happily sucked on the front part of the carrier while checking out the crowd.
Then Troy Tulowitzki hit a homerun.
When the crowd around us erupted in cheers, the noise swirled around the lower deck and amplified from the mezzanine above us, crashing down around our 12-week old in a way she wasn't prepared for.
As if to voice her opinion, my daughter let out a caterwaul that silenced most of the crowd around us. I'm talking a Threat Level Red meltdown so loud I'm sure the players could hear it in the outfield.
Trying to shush her or give her a bottle didn't help, so that was the end for me watching the game. I resorted to doing what most parents who don't know what else to do with a bawling infant do, and got up to walk around with her.
She screamed from the moment I carried her out of the aisle, up the stairs through the concourse and in to the bathroom where I tried to find a quiet place to give her the bottle again. When that failed, I retreated to a bathroom stall and tried to nurse her, to which she also violently refused.
When I say "violently," I mean that she screamed so loud that I'm sure someone, somewhere in the bathroom was calling Child Services.
It was probably one of the single most embarrassing moments of motherhood for me.
The looks from people as I carried her screaming body while scouting a secluded area to calm her down didn't help either. Some where from sympathetic mothers who tried to give me the look of "Girl, I totally understand where you are." But some where from people that just blared "What the hell are you doing here with that awful baby?" And I even heard one guy look at me and tell his buddies "That's why I'm never having kids."
So, really, this was all a selfless act of public service. A walking contraception billboard.
And what happened while I was trying to console a screaming banshee out past the concourse?
My son's adorable face was up on the Jumbotron. For all of Coors Field to see.
Except his mother.
As heartbreaking as it was to return to my seat, only to find everyone around me remark "You missed it. YOU MISSED IT!" I know that as a mother, these missed moments will be frequent and plenty. I can't stop them from coming, and I can't prevent them from being missed.
There will be that perfect triple pirouette that wasn't observed because I was taking someone else to the bathroom. The one and only soccer goal of the season missed because I was retrieving someone's water bottle from the car. There will be home runs and cartwheels and fastest laps and back flips that will go unseen.
All I can hope for as a parent is that I will eventually get my turn to witness those moments again, as once-in-a-lifetime as they may appear.
But if you happen to have a connection to the Jumbotron cameraman, let me know.