It's been a rougher than average weekend, perhaps in great part because MrsDarwin and I had been away house-hunting for the last three days. We don't feel particularly like we just had a three day vacation, because it was a pretty hectic three days, with work hours spent apart, and most of the time spent in a real estate agent's car. But regardless of whether we felt rested, the children felt like they'd been with relatives and off-routine for the last three days, and although grandparents and aunts and uncles are more fun than Mom and Dad, deviations in routine and personnel seem always to create extra anxiety (or at least misbehavior) in the young.
Thus it was with a sort of resigned frustration (and after having already navigated explosions related to mass and fashion) that we realized both that we would need to go get the week's groceries for the Cinceinnati household before making dinner, and that it was necessary to take the baby (who might cry if left with non-nursers), the two-year-old (who was feeling clingy after being without parents for three days), and the four-year-old (who had been blameless all day and felt that she had lacked attention as a result). Needless to say, we would much rather have spent the hour at the grocery store along together, or with only the comparatively inert baby, and our fears were justified when behavior at the store was just as antic as we had feared it would be from the two older of our three companions. They, of course, had a blast. It was just we who would have rather forgone the opportunity to spend an hour chasing small children in and out of carts and putting back things young helpers believed should be in our cart.
As we were checking out, I was thinking to myself, "We should have just left them, even if they would have been upset about it. this is madness. One of our last hours together for a week, and it's been completely frustrating."
When I realized: As parents, we are not our own. It would have been a lot easier and pleasanter for us to have taken only the baby, and faster too. But as parents, we gave that up a while ago. Sometimes we need to go the less satisfying route when it's the one which the kids need.
It certainly won't be the last time I learn that lesson. It doesn't come naturally. But although it's often most important to come up with the most efficient and low stress ways of parenting, at others it is important to do things that aren't the most efficient, or that are actively frustrating at the time, and to do them with good grace, because we are no longer our own.