Four years.

My friend Ashley and I have gone to lunch once a week, every week, with our kids in tow.

IMG_1810Tessa, Ali, AJ, and Noah.  Yes, Noah IS in the photo.

Seriously – we’ve missed less than a dozen weeks in FOUR YEARS.

We do fun things with the kids, too – the Zoo, the McWane Center, the Mall…but we always have lunch afterward.

I remember the very first lunch we had – Ali was younger than Noah is now.  AJ was three months old and was grabbing at the toys hanging from her car seat.  I was insanely jealous of her skills and couldn’t wait for Ali to be able to grasp objects, but the day seemed like it would never arrive.

We knew our lunches were a treat – most of our friends had started having kids much sooner, and had too many kids to make weekly lunches feasible for their personal sanity level.  But we only had one each, so it was easy.  And even when Ashley had Tessa, it didn’t change much – she fit right into the groove.

But last Tuesday, we simultaneously realized that our weekly lunches had come to an end.

Herein lies the account of our fateful lunch.

12:30pm: Meet at one of our favorites, Baha Burgers.  The ordering line was almost out the door.  The older girls want to sit outside, so we decide to divide and conquer.  I stand in line to order with Noah, and Ashley takes Ali, AJ, and Tessa out to find a table.

12:34pm: I’m still in line.  I see a trail of our little people and Ashley headed back inside.  She mouths to me: too cold.

12:35pm: I faintly hear the older girls whining about being indoors.  Right after they had whined about being outdoors.

12:38pm: Ashley is trying to get Tessa to sit still in her seat – at 18 months, she’s not really at the “sitting still preferred” age.   The older girls are entertaining themselves by pouring salt and pepper on the table – something they had thankfully “grown out of” a year or so ago.

12:40pm: Noah starts screaming.  The older girls are arguing about whose fire hat is whose.  Tessa doesn’t have a fire hat and wants one desperately.  I still haven’t ordered.

12:41pm: Almost my turn to order. I look over at the table and see Ali coating her hands in pepper.  I try to ignore it.

12:42pm: I can’t block my obsessive envisioning of her rubbing her eyes with peppered hands and screaming for hours on end.

12:43pm: I can’t help it.  I call out to her from the line to quit playing in the pepper.  She doesn’t hear me.  I call louder, looking like a weirdo, but too afraid to lose my place in line.

12:50pm: I finally make it to our table, carrying Noah screaming in his car seat and four drinks without lids.  I tell the girls to not touch the drinks until I get lids, envisioning those full cups of lemonade coating their now salted and peppered selves.

12:51pm: I lid the drinks and pass them out.

12:52pm: I sit down, breathe a sigh of relief, and pick up my hamburger to enjoy the first bite, which is, after all, always the best bite.

12:53pm: Bite almost to my mouth when Ali drops her entire cup of lemonade, lid down, directly onto Noah, who had just quit screaming.

12:53pm: Noah, sopping wet, recommences screaming.  Ali is screaming It was an accident!!”, and Tessa is screaming because Ashley is trying to help me de-soak an infant.

It was THE moment.

Ashley and I look at each other and both know: it’s the end of an era.

Everyone else in the restaurant looks at us and wishes we’d realized this one meal sooner.

But it didn’t end there…

1:30pm: I finally managed to finish my lunch, now covered in sticky lemonade, baby spit up and drool (because Noah insisted on being held, and apparently felt a little bit queasy, after his sister-applied-dousing), and my own food (because it’s hard to eat a juicy hamburger while holding a baby).

1:35pm: We’re walking out of lunch, and Ali sees a bucket of sand. A sand box!, she yells.  She runs over and starts digging into it, as I, in slow motion, yell out, NOOOOOO…. that’s for cigarette butts!!! She brushes off her hands and insists that they are now completely clean, refusing all treatment.  I douse her in wet wipes and hand sanitizer despite her protests.

1:38pm: I get in the car and get a pen out to fill out a bank deposit slip, and the pen leaks all over my hands.

1:39pm: I mentally check out and block the rest of the day from entering my consciousness, for fear of complete loss of sanity.

And so, when life gives your infant lemonade, it’s time to quit going to lunch.

29 thoughts on “The End of an Era.

    1. True – picnics could possibly work. We’re still for getting together and letting the kids play and doing fun stuff – restaurants are just marked off our list for a while. Out of concern for all of the other restaurant patrons out there in the world.

  1. I oh so totally understand this!! And while hopefully this is the worst possible scenario out there, it’s still just so typical!!!
    And people think I’m crazy when I turn them down for a 1:30 pm (hello? naptime?!) lunch at the it-takes-an-hour-to-get-your-food restaurant!

  2. Alas, the ratio is too much now. 2:4. But, if you add husbands the next time, it would be 4:4 and therefore adults would win! ;)

    I have to giggle, though, at Ali playing in the “sandbox”. too cute!

  3. oh no, maybe you can start having lunch at 11 – when the restaraunts first open – I don’t know if I could give up my weekly routine, I would tie my kids to the chairs first (well not literally, well maybe… ) :) I so can see this lunch happening though, so at least we have all been there???? :)

  4. Ohhhh, OUCH. That was a painful read! I hope you give it another chance, though … I think it’s possible that you could still do your lunches, what with Spring on the way and all. Perhaps just picnic lunches at the park? I hate to see you give up now! :)

    1. We’re still going to get together once a week – just not at a restaurant. In fact, we’re getting together today – in a nice, safe, contained environment called “Ashley’s House”. :)

  5. Although it was quite entertaining for me to read, I can only imagine the nightmare it was to be in :) So sad for you guys, but maybe you can start the lunches again when the kids are a bit older, or maybe one of you can go pick up lunch & y’all can eat at your house. Maybe the daddies could keep the kids every once in a while so you & Ashley can have a lunch date to yourselves.
    The last line made me laugh out loud :)

  6. Ohhh, I have totally had some days like this. They always make me wonder why on earth I want more kids. Haha:) One time we were at the mall when S was an infant and T had to go to the bathroom leaving me with both girls while in the Macy’s china section trying to pick out a wedding gift. I actually had two people stop and ask me if I needed help. Yes, I’m sure I looked THAT harried with my crying/jumping/squirming children. :P

    You can still do lunch you just need some secret weapons…like some sort of special princess activity book that they only get while at restaurants….when you’re recovered from the trama of this lunch of course. :)

  7. Oh dear… I think I would have started crying with Noah after the lemonade bath! I think everyone tries out “the sandbox” at least once… pretty sure I did, and was quite offended when mom wouldn’t let me play (I mean, they put it there at just the right height for me! LoL!) You’ll find different ways to enjoy outings with the kiddos – picnics do sound great – at places with playgrounds maybe so you guys can chit chat while they play!

  8. That stinks (but was so funny), sorry to hear it. I’m with you though… it’s really not worth it to take little kids to a restaurant. They don’t enjoy it, and they (without meaning to, I’m sure) make darn sure that no one else does either. Beege used to come everywhere with us when she was little – she’d sleep in her car seat for dinners and dance on chairs when her dad was playing a show…
    As soon as we added Kee, all that came to an end. Her temperament was SO different (ie. no way on earth she’d sleep through dinner in her car seat) that there was just no way.
    Oh well, maybe in a few years when they’re both over “you should know better!” age, we’ll give it a try again.
    I’m glad to hear you’re still getting together once a week though!

  9. Thanks Rachel for bringing back sweet memories of my last zoo followed by lunch with a great friend. It ended with my 18 month old throwing up in the middle of a crowded Red Lobster dining room. I bolted to the car, leaving my friend to feverishly gather her child and our food, which we had not touched. My heart still aches for all of the people we ruined lunch for that day. It has been 8 years now. Those were the days….

  10. So sorry! And, that’s all I have to say…just so sorry! My get togethers w/ my best friend now usually happen at one of our houses or a playground.

  11. Hehe. My family just had dinner with my little brother this past weekend. it was completely spur of the moment because we found out he was going “wheels up” to Afghanistan very shortly. As I was driving to meet them at my sister’s house I was thinking how nice it would be to order in and eat at the house. Why didn’t I pick up the cell phone right then and call? WHY??? When I got there everyone was jumping in the car because we were going to meet my brother at the Olive Garden. I could feel my face settle into its ‘face of doom’ expression, My sister and I have 4 kids altogether: 6, 5, 2, and 1 years old. And it was past their bedtime before we even sat down. O.M.G.

    I feel for you, I totally feel your pain.

  12. I completely feel for you Rachel!! You and Ashley are super brave to battle a restaurant being out numbered in kids! The only “restaurants” we attend is Cracker Barrell – b/c they have the endless supply of biscuits, or Mexican b/c of the chips! Maybe you could hit Mexican – goodness knows they are quick at getting out your food to you and it is always so loud in there it is hard to hear a child screaming!

  13. I was going to say “Don’t Give Up!” but I see others have already said that. It is sooooo important to have friends who are in the same boat with you when you have littles. Do like Rebekah and I do. We alternate going to each other’s house. One person fixes lunch and one fixes dessert. Or just order pizza. Don’t give it up though! And then one day you will be “mature” like us and you will have all these big kids to watch the littles while you eat the hidden dessert together. Not that Rebekah and I would ever do that, of course.

  14. After reading Nana said she would be glad to come keep Noah(and/or the girls)if you and Ashley want a luncheon either all adult or with the girls.

  15. So sorry! It’s been a good era! Definitely not worth the restaurant, but so glad you are continuing to get together. Maybe some day while Nana and Papa keep Noah, we could keep Tessa. Then the foursome would have it made for eating out!

  16. This is exactly why restaurants offer take out and curbside to go. I hope you can continue your tradition.

  17. Oh… I have soooo been there! The good news is that eventually all kids go to school (unless you homeschool and that is certainly your choice to make, but I’m just saying…) they go to schooooolll….. lunch alone with an adult. It can last for 2 hours! Fabulous… just wait. :)
    In the meantime- a good thing to try is one picking it up to go while the other one is at home with all the hoodlums…provided you trust the picker upper to return at all.

  18. ohhhhh, you poor thing! Don’t you just hate that?! I’m so thankful we have a little mom and pop restaurant here in town that plays cartoons while we moms eat, otherwise there is NO WAY I’d ever visit a restaurant by myself with all three kids in tow.

  19. Bless your heart! I’m glad you have such a wonderful friendship — those are few and far between. I left my lunch friend in Birmingham, and I desperately miss those girl lunches. I’m glad you were able to see humor in a frustrating day and that you will still spend time with your friend. One day, you’ll celebrate the beginning of a new lunch era.

  20. oh Rachel.
    I’d like to apologize for laughing. It’s not funny. I know it’s not.
    I feel your pain of realization that something you’ve been able to do for so long and enjoyed so much isn’t so easy anymore. My husband and I have penciled in trying the ‘eating in a restaraunt’ thing again in 2014.

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