When nothing is easy, yet it's so worthwhile
By Monica Quock Chan
By Monica Quock Chan
Each time we meet, our playgroup addresses a different life question.
Last week it was: "What do you miss the most about life before kids?"
"Do you have an hour?" one new mother replied half-jokingly.
Surprisingly, though, the most common reply was not rest, career or time with our husbands. It was the ability to run errands quickly.
A simple jaunt to the store can become an all-day excursion. Here's how.
Before even exiting the house, there are two major things to get ready: the diaper bag and the infant.
Gone are the days when I could fit all I needed into a sleek clutch.
The diaper bag is crammed with indispensable items such as wipes, blankets, diapers, outfits, bibs, food, bottles, bowls, utensils and toys. Not to mention answers to questions like "Where will I put the dirty diapers?" (pack extra plastic bags) or "What if there's no sink in which to wash my hands?" (bring portable hand sanitizer).
In addition, there are the essential nonessentials such as a camera, just in case a Kodak moment occurs while waiting in the checkout line.
I move on to my daughter, who with great interest is beginning to remove various objects from the bag. She squirms intensely as I endeavor to change her diaper.
Outfitting the keiki comes next. Outside it will be sweltering, but indoors it will be air-conditioned. The turquoise top matches the indigo pants, but the indigo pants have food stains. Decisions, decisions.
At last I pop the appropriately attired munchkin into the car seat. By this time she has far exceeded her one-minute attention span.
Howling baby and giant bag in tow, I make it to the car where I proceed to unhook the seat, hoist the ever-heavier baby into the vehicle, collapse the stroller, secure the diaper bag, and finally start the engine.
The whole scenario is repeated in reverse once I pull into the store's parking lot.
Soon I discover that wending down the narrow aisles with an infant, diaper bag, car seat, stroller and/or cart is no easy task.
Is there any way to speed up this outing? My solution is to power walk, zigzagging between obstacles to keep the momentum going.
This has become such a habit that last month my friend phoned and queried, "Was that you in the mall earlier today? You were walking so fast I couldn't catch up with you."
Yet, even this attempt to save time is thwarted as inevitably the baby is a magnet for attention from passers-by who pause to say aloha, coo and try to elicit a smile.
Others talk story, reminiscing about their children or grandchildren with a wistful look in their eyes.
Somehow in those moments, my to-do list and all of the effort it took to leave the house fade away. Advice from those older and wiser than I comes to mind: "Enjoy your baby; time goes by so fast."
Then I smile at my daughter, and continue at a gentler pace.
Monica Quock Chan is a freelance writer and executive-turned-mom who lives in Honolulu with her husband and daughter.