On Visiting A Prospective School, Part 1 of 2

Since Jason will be applying to (about) five different schools this fall, we decided that this time around he would visit at least 4 out of the 5 before he applied to meet with faculty and get a better feel for the program he’s interested in at each school. Jiving with the community and the environment of the town the university is located in is also a factor as well. The first one we visited this year seemed like a good one for all three of us to visit together.

It seemed like a great idea. I had high expectations. When will I learn there is a difference between having hope about situations and life, and having high expectations. Two completely different things. This is where me being a “realist” comes in many times. Jason says I’m the negative person out of the two of us, but I’m sticking with “realist”. So, as I was saying, I was allowing my expectations to soar a little higher than my average day of middle of the road expectations, when the weather decided to give us flood warnings and rain for the 3 days we hung out in this particular college town. Not only that, I think we seem to forget we’re traveling with a two-year-old, and not another adult that can understand time or the word “wait” or that we are doing everything in our power to get everyone fed in a timely fashion. I found myself repeating more things including my son’s name than I ever have before in my 2 years of being a mother. Maybe he was taken off guard by all the unfamiliarity, but he was not acting like the Miles I knew. I said the following I think about twenty times every day of the trip. Exhausting.

“Don’t throw that!” “Put that down.” “Don’t put that in your mouth.” “Are you listening to me?” “Listen to me!” “Lay down.” “I just have to change your diaper then you can run around like crazy again!” “You will get a snack in a minute!” “I’m getting you a drink!” “I can’t reach the animal crackers you flung across the seat, I am DRIVING!” “Please stop whining!” “Don’t step in that!” “Pick up your bear, the floor is filthy!” “Do not stand on that! You could fall!” “Stop throwing your food on the floor!” “Keep your food in your mouth!”  “Sit down in your seat.” “If you don’t stop I will take that away from you.” “If you do that again, you will get spanked and we will go back to the car.” “Stop crying and just tell me what you want! I can’t help you if I don’t know what the problem is!!!!”

(Insert completely exhausted dead-pan blank stare here- and don’t forget the frizzy hair and bags under the eyes.)

I don’t think my blood pressure has risen because of this child as much as it had on this particular trip. Parents, you’ve all been there. These are the times Jason and I, (I, being almost 5 months pregnant), look at each other and say “And we think having another one is a good idea?”

I’m glad I’m taking a yoga class lately because it has reminded me to breathe. Sounds odd, but it really has helped me to remember just to take a deep breath, realize I may or may not be able to change the circumstances of the moment, give it to God, and calm down. Easier said than done, but I do try.

Since it was raining from day one, we had to drop Jason off at his first appointment. He estimated he’d be done in a hour and a half, two hours at most. Okay, what to do…what to do…I didn’t want to just go back to our hotel room, they’d probably be cleaning it anyway, and I did want to get a feel for the city myself. With my trusty Tom-Tom, I found that I was very close to the university’s art museum and it was free and open to the public. Perfect. Rainy day, take my kid to an art museum. What a great mom am I. Good thinking. We’ll have this awesome morning together and tell Jason all about it and he’ll be so impressed that I just made my way through a city I’ve never even seen before and found something fun to do with our son and held things together and was strong enough to carry my purse, the diaper bag, a sippy cup, a snack, and 32 lb. baby when it was necessary…Fun and Confident Mom of the Year Award goes right here, people…Oh- no parking right outside of the museum? Well, okay we will park in this parking garage. Oooh, it’s free too! Bonus! Stroller? Nah, we will walk. We’ll take this oversized golf umbrella to cover the two of us, it can’t be that far, it’ll be fine. I see a lady walking down the sidewalk. We’re a little wet already from the downpour but no problem, we’ll be in the museum, and dried off in no time. Okay, lady, make eye contact with me- yay- okay-

“Excuse me, do you know how I get to the art museum?”

“Yes, it’s down this street, up those two big sets of stairs, go through the middle of those two buildings up another set of stairs and turn right- then you’ll be at the staff parking for the museum behind the building and you’ll have to go around to the front and up those stairs.”

Okay. A little more daunting than I originally thought. No problem, we’ll do it anyway, we have some time to kill. And I have that award to win. It’s taking a little longer than I though- you know, little 2 year old legs aren’t the quickest way of transportation, and we’re getting wetter by the second…Of course Miles walks through and jumps in every puddle he sees, and is upset and besides himself as to why his socks and pants are drenched. And stops every few steps to remind me that his shoes are wet. My mood starts to change. Let’s just get there and we’ll get dry. Up another flight of stairs. And another. Pregnant lady is getting a little winded. And tired of holding a massive golf umbrella that is doing a poor job of keeping both 3′ Miles and 5’6″ mommy dry. Back is hurting. Sciatic nerve, please behave yourself. Ah, the end is in sight. Up more stairs. Old columns, nice. If only I could remember my art history to make note of what style…Inside the doors. Relief. We’re here and dryness is near. Aw, an umbrella rack, thoughtful! Shake the umbrella off, put it in the holder. Keep toddler son from picking up and stealing other colorful umbrellas he thinks are free for the pickin’. Check. Open another set of doors, try to walk in gracefully though the 15lb diaper bag that’s bursting with over-preparedness is falling off my shoulders and getting caught on everything and my son that I’m trying to hold the door open for is being shy and won’t walk in front of me. Just go in! I am right behind you! Pull it together, wheww. It’s only 11:15, we still have until about 12:30 or maybe 1 before Jason is done. I had seen a group of school students go in the doors when I was circling in the car earlier so I knew the museum was open. There was a wall sized expressive painting greeting us as we finally entered the museum. I love art, la la la la la-

Lady at the front desk: “Can I help you?” “It’s open to the public, right?” “Not until noon.”

Wha whaaaa.

(You know, the muted trumpet wha wha sound? that’s the one.)

I hesitated for a second, maybe hoping she would see my plight and maybe that my whole face had changed expressions and let us be the exception to the rule, being first time visitor to this booming little college town, toddler-ahem- wet toddler in tow, moody from pregnancy and at a loss of what to do or see while it was pouring down rain. But there was no empathetic “It’s okay, we’ll let you sneak in early!” I get it. Rules are rules. I hate rules. “Oh…okay…” sounding lost, and I’m sure defeated, I turned around, shuffled Miles and our umbrella out by way of the heavy old stupid door, stood on the top stairs by those big old columns and started to sob.

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