23rd of July
Today is Saturday, which in my little world is market day, always. Mom stayed with Kroshka, my 2-year old, so I could go to the market in peace with Knopka, my 2-month old, who usually sleeps in the stroller for about 3 hours in the morning.
At 8.50 am I left the house and tried to put Knopka into the stroller. No luck. Stayed in front of the house for 1 hour 10 minutes rocking him and feeding him on the steps. It blows my mind that there are people in this world (predominantly the ones without kids) who can decide to leave the house and then do just that. They don’t spend an hour rocking a baby to sleep in front of the house. Or 20 minutes trying to convince a toddler to put on shoes. Or another 15 minutes just saying “Let’s go! Ok, now let’s go… really, shall we go now?” Wow!
Made it to the market. Just when I reached my favorite veggie stall, Knopka woke up. Put him in a baby carrier, used the stroller as a shopping cart to load approximately 25 bags of vegetables, fruits, berries, pasta, and fish. In the bus on the way home, just when the bus driver was making a turn worthy of The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, the stroller toppled and all 25 bags, as well as my purse, made their way onto the floor and out of the open doors to bemusement of prospective passengers at the bus stop. Crawled on the floor of the bus with a baby strapped to my chest to pick up my future lunch. It’s not even midday. Scared of what’s ahead.
25th of July
I booked a house an hour away from Hamburg to switch off and spend some time in nature. The morning started with packing. No, the morning started with severe back pain that didn’t allow me to bend, so me packing was really me dropping stuff into the suitcase basketball-style. Then there was the stuffing of a suitcase, a stroller, a box with food, and a bike into the trunk of a rental car (the bike didn’t make it). Followed by figuring out how to install two car seats, followed by getting the kids into the said car seats.
About 20 minutes into the ride Knopka started crying. I got out of the car and paced an empty parking lot while he was in my arms screaming at the top of his lungs. Fun fact: my boob was out for all the passing cars to witness, because when you are trying to calm a crying baby by any means available there’s no time to get your boob in and out of the dress, so it’s just out.
About 20 minutes into Knopka crying I started crying too: I booked a house an hour away, we were not flying to Australia! Why is it so hard? Calmed myself, calmed Knopka, got into the car and off we went. Kroshka had a meltdown too, but a video of a bathing monkey did its thing. I think God took pity on me which is why the house I rented came with a (completely unexpected) huge garden, horses, chickens, a personal playground for Kroshka, and a fully stocked kitchen the size of my apartment.
4th of August
Instead of going for a walk in the morning, as per usual, I’ve decided to stay home and prepare the documents to apply for Knopka’s passport. Knopka was opposed and required to be carried around continuously. Kroshka wanted to stay with dad, dad wanted to have a conference call in peace, I wanted to fill out a passport application, but had to console crying children instead.
At midday I had an appointment at orthopedist. A few things went wrong: spent an hour in the waiting room, the doctor didn’t speak English, Knopka started crying so I had to breastfeed him in the reception area. And if that wasn’t an intimate enough act to be carried out in public, he then pooped with so much force and noise that I blushed, but everyone around seemed to find it hilarious.
As luck would have it, the doctor’s office had no changing table and I forgot wet wipes. I’ll quickly run home, I thought, while making my way out. I was in the lobby lowering Knopka into the stroller when I realized the diaper leaked on my dress.
What I am about to describe may be the lowest point of my life as a mom. No-one was around. I saw a trash bin. There was a somewhat-clean-looking tissue. I tore a piece of it to wipe poop off my dress. I doubt there could be anything worse than poop on that tissue, right?
Then I went back to orthopedist, washed Knopka under cold running water in the toilet (causing a screaming fit — can you blame him?) and changed him on top of a toilet seat for the lack of a better option. Walked home covered in poop, spit, and milk in 32°C (90°F) heat.
In the evening there was another round of screaming and crying. Then I calmed down and made dinner. Joking. Or not.
8th of August
Today sucked. Tomorrow will be better.
9th of August
It is actually better. Today I swam in open water for the first time in summer, and in the Baltic Sea for the first time in my life. It was so good, I kept muttering “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!’’ under my breath while swimming further and further away from the shore.
There are good and bad days when you travel. But here is the thing. When you travel with kids, a good day is still a good day, but a bad day is a freaking nightmare. That’s what happened yesterday. There was very little sleep, multiple melt downs, pooping in public, arguing, and seeing almost nothing of Lübeck, one of the most beautiful cities in Germany. Oh well! At least I swam in Baltic Sea.
13th of August
Mom is flying back to Russia soon. I am terrified of the day when she leaves and we will be forced to experience the joys of parenting with no support once again.
Today we decided to get a little taste of what’s coming and gave my mom a few hours of rest (which she used to cook and clean instead). We went to the market with both kids.
To start off, Knopka, who I put to sleep right before leaving the house, opened his eyes every time I tried to lower him into the stroller. After the third failed try I gave up.
Then our bus got cancelled because a protest was taking place on our street. We walked 10 minutes to a different bus stop to catch another bus, which arrived, but for some reason stopped a hundred meters away. The bus driver dramatically waved his arms, suggesting that we run and get in, which we did. With a stroller, a baby attached to my boob and a toddler.
As the bus took off, I realized we were going in the wrong direction. The driver was speeding through the city without making any stops for at least 15 minutes. I made a joke that he stole the bus and took us hostage, but no-one found it particularly funny.
When the bus finally came to a halt, I couldn’t comprehend where we were and whether we should get down. So I got into a screaming match with the driver in my broken German — screaming simply because I was on the other end of the bus — when I noticed that the doors are open and I can’t see Kroshka. Did he get down? Did he hide in the bus? We shouted his name in panic — he was, of course, directly behind me.
The bus, as it turns out, did take us to our destination. But by that point Knopka didn’t sleep for 3 hours (twice the amount of time he is supposed to be not sleeping) and started crying. I ran to the nearby cafe to sit down, catch my breath and make him sleep whatever it may cost me. I succeeded in half an hour. And just as we started walking towards the market — a cherry on top of the cake! — a huge piece of poop landed on the stroller, as if to reiterate what our life will look like once mom leaves. Ok, Universe, I hear you loud and clear.
4th of September
Mom left on the 15th of August. And then my husband left on the 28th of August for a week-long trip to Nuremberg, leaving me outnumbered by the kids for the first time ever. I’ve been bracing for one of those crazy days, like I described above, to come. But it didn’t. It was tough, but there wasn’t a moment when I thought: what a mess! I should write about it. I didn’t even cry, which I was fully expecting to happen in my husband’s absence.
Husband came back on a Thursday night bearing gifts: coffee from my favorite Nuremberg coffee shop for me and a toy tractor for Kroshka. Knopka doesn’t yet understand that you can demand gifts when dad is going away for a week. He says it was a work trip, but for all I know he was on vacation.
I cried three days later. I really thought I was fine. I did it — alone with two kids — I managed. I was so proud of myself, if you only knew. And then on Sunday I missed my bus and out of nowhere — so much anger and frustration that I cried at the bus stop. Luckily, on Sundays there aren’t any people on the streets. So I sobbed while pushing the stroller with one hand and holding Knopka in another.
I am going to stop here. There’s no logical ending to this post, because bad days do not come to an end. I could keep writing for years to come. There’s no moral to this story. Just know that when you are having an outrageously bad day somewhere in this world, maybe thousands of kilometers away from you, I am wiping poop of my dress with a dirty tissue found in a trash bin.