|Darla wants to be the only baby at lunch|
Going to a restaurant with one baby and two adults is a horrible experience for me. I nervously look around at all the patrons, wondering where their hatred may lie on a scale from one to ten. My guess is usually that it hovers somewhere around five when she’s quiet and ten when she’s screeching. This is why Greg and I only go out to eat at 4:30 PM.
Picture this nightmare scenario, then. Myself and six other moms walk into The Cheesecake Factory during their lunch rush. Five of us carry our babies in Ergo packs on our chests. We hush our respective baby’s screams. Two other women roll strollers through the front door as us Ergo wearers struggle to hold it open for them. Our names have been submitted to the hostess, who shows us the various options we have for seating. We opt for the one in which we have an entire section to ourselves.
We toddled to our table, while the women with the strollers attempted to roll their behemoths away from the center of the aisle. Their SUV strollers, however, are still planted right in the middle of the restaurant. I had to give them credit for trying.
We sat down and chaos (or at least what I felt was chaos) ensued. The mothers politely argued amongst themselves over whose baby was the fussiest, therefore earning the seats on the end. Each baby cried intermittently. Drinks were ordered and, with the exception of myself, waters were ordered all around. I worried over whether the server hated us because we took up eight tables in his section. I neglected to change Darla’s diaper for fear of stretching out the experience. What if, after I ordered, the server came to the table to tell me that they’d run out of the bacon bits for my salad while I was in the restroom with her? I would hold up the entire table’s order, thus forcing all involved to sit at the table even longer. I sat tight and apologized profusely to Darla in my head. All of us mothers struggled to keep a steady conversation going between “shhhhs” and “ummmms” as we lost our train of thought.
I tried my best to stave off a headache as I inched closer and closer to a panic attack. After waiting tables for years, I had become a hyperaware restaurant patron. I’ve always been careful to order politely, tip in cash and not ask for water that I won’t drink. I like to walk lightly through the whole experience. The mom brigade descending on the Cheese Cake Factory, however, was more like a destructive stomp in the middle of the restaurant. I really enjoyed every mother who was there, but it's better in a one on one situation.
In the end, I needed to get out of there so desperately that I just started throwing cash at the situation. I overpaid my part and felt it was money well spent because it got me home to my quiet, empty house all the sooner. Once I walked through my front door, I breathed a sigh of relief and vowed to only go out to eat with one mother at a time. I’ve made good on that promise so far.