There are certain laws that seem to govern getting out of our house with two small children. The first being that it always takes at least an hour long to get out of our house than I think it’s going to take. If I am smart, I do as much of the preparation to get out of the house the night before, i.e. give baths, pick out clothes, pack diaper bag, fix drinks and snacks etc. This works well for planned trips, but doesn’t work so well for the more spontaneous trips like a walk to the park or running to the store because I ran out of saline solution three days ago, and forgot to pick it up the last two times I was out.
The second law is that once I have everything ready to go, and I am about to leave the house I realize that I forgot something, and I run back to get it, probably putting down whatever was in my hand, like my umbrella or pacifier on my way to retrieve it.
The third law is that by the time I have retrieved that umbrella or pacifier or whatever it is that I put down when I went back to get whatever it was that I forgot, one of the children have messed their diaper, so I have to take both children back inside again. This has become even more complicated in the winter, when I have to strip off winter coat, boots, snow pants, mittens, hat and scarf to change the offending diaper. By the time I’ve changed the diaper and gotten winter gear back on, the other child has messed their diaper, and I have to go through the whole process of undressing and redressing again. Finally both children are ready to go and a bit fussy because they are so warm inside with all their gear on, and I am sweating buckets, because I didn’t bother to take off my winter gear during all the rushing around and changing of diapers. Sometimes I try to take short-cuts and leave mittens on, or only pull down the pants and snow-pants instead of completely removing them, but this is a mistake because inevitably I will end up with poop on one of these irreplaceable items, making the rest of my trip and therefore my day unpleasantly smelly.
The fourth law is that whatever the meteorologist posted on wetter.com about the weather, I can almost guarantee that when I get outside exactly the opposite is happening. So, once outside I am stripping the children and changing them into something more comfortable, or getting their coats, hats and gloves on. Being an experienced car-less mother who depends on stroller transportation, I keep all forms of gear for every curve ball Mother Nature can throw at me tucked into my stroller and diaper bag for just such an occasion.
The fifth law is really more of an addition to the fourth law, saying that whatever the weather looks like outside of my window or out on my balcony, by the time I get all the children and their gear down the elevator, down the front stairs and outside, the weather has changed.
The sixth law is that I will reach the bus stop just in time to see my bus whiz by. I probably saw this coming, but there was really nothing I could do about it because I was too far away to run with the heavily laden stroller and two small children strapped in. Luckily the bus comes every ten minutes, and if I am really lucky I will sit in the bus stop with some chain smoking old lady who feels it her duty to tell me 101 reasons why I shouldn’t have my children out in this weather. Being a non-German speaker, I smile pleasantly nodding my head, and say in heavily accented German, “Tut me leid. Mein Deutsch ist nicht sehr gut.“ At which point I usually receive a “Humph,” and a disdainful look meaning ‘When you live in Germany, you should speak German.’ If I am having an especially lucky day, the stranger recognizes my English accent and switches to English, and then I’m forced into yet another lengthy conversation about why it is so important for me, especially as a mother, to learn the language, as if I didn’t already know that. Please tell me when a mother of two children two and under has the time to learn more of the language than just what is needed to get by.
The seventh law is that because I missed my bus, I will miss my next transfer as well, spend at least thirty minutes of uncalculated time waiting on transportation, and finally arrive at my destination an hour later than planned, only to realize that the drinks and snacks I packed the night before are still sitting inside the fridge back at home.