I am a parent of 3 small children. Before I even pull up the straps of my
boots nursing bra, I ask myself one question. Am I in the mood to be publicly humiliated today? If yes, then commence with the getting out of the door procedures. If no, settle into a day of battle against housework. The local zoo down the street is the perfect size. Doable in 1-2 hours. Has most of the main animals one would want to see. And goats. You can brush the goats. And then you can talk about how the goat sneezed and pooped at the same time for the next couple of years. Seriously, we could be at some sort of fancy function like the White House State dinner and Owen would be like “Did that goat sneeze and poop mommy? That was so silly.” And I’ll be like “He means Bill the Goat, Admiral Important Pants! Go Navy!” And that is how one successfully digresses into an imaginary state function attended by Admirals in a post about going to the zoo alone. Thank you, hold applause please.
First, I like to pack my children a lunch, against the direct request of a flimsy paper sign posted in the zoo window, because I’m a rebel like that. Then I have to wrestle a stroller bigger than I am into a narrow awkward space in the back of my car. Grunting optional. I’m not saying it takes the precision of brain surgery, but I’m not saying it doesn’t. It does require prayer. “Please close rear door. PLEASE!” Then I buckle, and buckle, and wrestle and buckle. I get my diaper suitcase. I drive five minutes to the zoo. I unbuckle, unstuck the stroller, try to remember the keys, load, snuggle the baby on my body like a pack mule, and start pushing. “Wheeeee!” The children exclaim, wild and fancy free. I wear my super mom medal as a talisman, pushing me on, encouraging to “just keep swimming.”
We start our sojourn into the zoo. I add and subtract points from my personal worth depending on how my children are reacting to my admonitions and praises.
“Hold your sister’s hand!” +1
“Don’t jump in front of strangers!” -1
Also, bonus points for children remembering which continents animals live on. Phew! He remembered that tigers live in Asia. I look intellectual now. I know right? He doesn’t even go to a Montessori school. We stop before Africa to feed the children lunch and let the baby get a break from his own personal mom sauna. You love being hot and sweaty right baby? Just like the womb! Except with more BO smell.
I usually skip one to two sections of the zoo to preserve my sanity. Here we are taking a breather in a grassy area to feed the baby again. This is a selfie that attempts to say “I survived!”
Because I am a great purveyor of tempting fate, some days I like to let the children play in the surging water spouts made for children much older, and bolder, than they. One thing I really like about them is how they are surrounded by concrete, so that if they slip and fall in a puddle, they can completely obliterate their knees. But don’t worry- I have band aids in my diaper suitcase. Because I will survive the toddler apocalypse y’all.
Soon after we leave. To avoid a tantrum I sling Maisy up in the Ergo. For some reason, childless people think you are very bad ass if you wear a toddler. It’s like the navy seal move of parenting. My life is so incredibly together, I’m going to wear my kid like a backpack. We parents know what it’s really saying: My shiz is so incredibly NOT together, that if I don’t wear her I would have to drag her screaming body across the parking lot and ain’t nobody got time for that. “Riding on mommy is fun!” “Repeat after me: Riding on mommy is FUN!” (If you say it enough, you brainwash them into believing it.)
And that’s how you go to the zoo alone. With slings, strollers, and snacks. And brainwashing mantras. “Going to the zoo is fun! Going to the zoo is fun!” If you say it enough, you just might believe it.