August 2, 2012

Adventures in Adulthood, or, How to Nearly Kill Your Entire Family

RH is learning to smile- so you know it's okay.
I remember that once upon a time, I asked my parents when they started feeling that they were "grown ups."

My father said he'd let me know when it happened.

My mother said that she wasn't sure, but that having kids probably had something to do with it.  She said that at a high school reunion, you could tell the "grown ups" from the prolonged adolescents, and those "grown ups" were almost all people who had gone out and had kids.

I believe that I started having these conversations with my parents around the same time I started driver's ed.

So, after having kids, I started expecting to feel "like a grown up."  And occasionally, I do.  But not often.  More frequently,. I find myself calling my mom just to hear her voice, or calling my Aunt Genocide so that I can listen to somebody who seems to actually WANT to be a grown up.

But having a baby a second time around... that REALLY makes me feel like a grown up.  Because now I'm not just the almost-hip 20-something with the remarkably cute and well behaved toddlers that I just happened to have produced (no biggie), now I'm the lady with congealed milk spit-up in my hair, snapping at the two cute but much more independent children planning my day around when I'll have fifteen minutes to do the dishes and how quickly I have to nurse the baby if I'm going to manage to snag a shower while M eats breakfast.

...and THAT feels like being a grown up.

So today was sort of a test run.

To survive three kids, we basically
live in the back yard.
You see, RH is six weeks old now, and I've been incredibly lucky.  Until last weekend (save three scattered days), I've had constant help with my children.  While I've recovered from my very unpleasant birthing experience, I've had a real grown up taking care of the grown up things.  You know, making sure the laundry situation is under control, that everyone has food, that the garbage goes out every so often.

Not anymore.

And really, I'm up to it.  I am.  I'm pretty much over being totally intimidated, and I'm ready to suck it up and take care of my family.

Yesterday, I even succeeded in making dinner.

So today was going to be a first- my first time taking all my children somewhere else all by myself.

Was I nervous?  No, I was too busy to be nervous.

I gathered the items required for the outing while RH dozed, got the girls into pull ups and their sandals, put the baby in a disposable diaper and her car seat, and marched the family out the door.

We would have made it to our 11am product testing on time, too, if  I didn't utterly fail at being a grown up.

As long-time readers may recall, I have a crippling terror of spiders.  Really, I might as well have just re-posted that instead of bothering with the humiliation I'm sure I'll experience when certain of my readers begin mocking me for today's mishap.

M and I have this awesome shortcut to get from here to the near Loop area.  We take the ramp from Lake Shore to the Ike, and then as soon as we're on the Ike take the ramp onto the Kennedy, and as soon as we're on the Kennedy we exit into the South Loop/Pilsen.  Garmin and Google don't believe it exists.  It's glorious.  So as I was heading to the West Loop, I took that shortcut.

I glided onto the Ike.  Perfect.  I slipped in between a few sedans on my way to the Kennedy.  Lovely.  I began to exit into the South Loop.  That involved checking my blind spot, by looking over my left shoulder.

It looked something like this. (and the thing I saw
Googling "spider attack" will haunt me 'till I die.)
And there, seven inches from my nose, was a gigantic fucking spider.  How big?  So big I could probably tell you how many brown stripes it had on each of its eight, horrific legs.  (See, I just stopped writing for three minutes to scratch and slap at imaginary tickles all over.  I cannot handle spiders.)

So what do you do, when you're on a ramp off of a ramp on a bridge in the middle of city traffic with cars merging from both sides with a car full VERY small people?

If you're a real grown up, I have no idea.  Because apparently I'm not a real grown up.

If you're me, you nearly kill everyone by swerving so drastically that you just miss a van and a cement barrier.  Thank god I was too terrified to scream, or my children would still be asking me about it.

I made it to the light, leaned ALL the way over to my right, barely looking out the windshield and practically sobbing.  And at the light, I finally ascertain that the spider is, in fact, on the far side on the glass window.

Now, at this point, even a cripplingly arachnophobic grown up would take a deep breath and just fucking drive.  But as I mentioned above, it seems that I am not a real grown up.  Seriously- I just tried Googling an image of the thing- it required a break from the computer because now M's desk is freaking me out due to its proximity to pictures of the spider that nearly made me kill myself.

I was incapable of just driving.  No, I had to make the thing go away.

Which meant driving like a maniac, hoping that the ridiculous speed and turbulence would make the spider decide that it would be much happier NOT building a web between my car and my sideview mirror.  So I began accelerating and braking like a crazy person, swerving randomly, as I made my way up the main street past a large university- again, with my kids in the car.

My ploy worked, the spider didn't want to build its web anymore.  So it went back into what was apparently its home- the space inside of my sideview mirror.

Having it almost out of sight helped me calm down enough to drive semi-safely, and we made our way to our product testing- only five minutes late.

Ice cream will make them forget my
humiliating exits from the car...
But now, how to get out of the car?

It took a tremendous force of will to open the door and run screaming from my car, in the Kolcraft parking lot.  It took even more effort to return and close the door behind me.

Going around to the other side of the car to extract my children was practically nothing after that.

Getting back into the car was worse.  I started with the kids.  I even reached through the car from the passenger side to start the engine, so that my children could have air conditioning while I built up the nerves it would require to get in and drive.

Somehow, I made it in.  And by that time the spider had either completely hidden itself inside of my sideview, or left.  God, I hope it left.  But RH was hungry and screaming, and I had promised my big girls we'd visit the playground we'd passed on the way.

...only all of that terror had given me a raging appetite.  I was positively starving.  For a moment, I resolved to get drive through on the way home.

And then it occurred to me- I would have to open the window to get drive through.  RH might make it home without popping a blood vessel screaming, but DD and SI wouldn't after being promised such a fun outing.

And I needed to eat NOW.

So, on my very first trip out with all three of my children and no backup, I took them to a restaurant.

I intentionally parked like a jackass, taking up two spots, so I'd have the room to throw the car door open and again run screaming into the parking lot.

In the course of hunting for that double spot, I realized that I was attempting this feat in  huge, crowded restaurant during lunch rush.

Somehow, we survived.  Despite there being no more high chairs, despite SI's distraction from her pizza, despite the fact that I somehow managed to eat my awkward salad one handed while RH nursed, and despite the fact that I literally had to pee the entire time.

Everyone has eaten.  We're going to be okay.
I had to leave all three kids unattended at the table for about forty seconds to get the ice cream.  I was not fucking leaving without eating some ice cream.

We made it home, all full, all safe.

The first thing I'm going to make M do when he gets home is shove a hose into the sideview mirror and flush that horrible thing out.  I don't care if he has to cut the thing off with a hack saw to make sure that spider is gone, I am never EVER doing that again.

So, I suppose that if reacting to a spider while driving by nearly manslaughtering your entire family and then making yourself feel better with consolation ice cream is being a grown up...


Maybe after the next kid.


  1. I'm just glad you're all safe. I do hope you can master your fear sufficiently not to let it kill you and the girls if something like this happens again.

  2. Oh, my...glad you got that ice cream! You deserved it!!!! (shuddering as I type this, right along with you!)

  3. Wow what a scary day you had! It's crazy how insane a phobia makes you behave. I have a huge fear of running over an animal with my car, so as soon as anything moves on the road and it may or may not be an animal (sometimes it's a leaf) I have the urge to swerve. Good thing this doesn't happen very often. And don't even get me started about dead things on the road. I once had a near panic attack when I had no choice but to go over a dead animal in the road due to traffic, I managed to not hit it with my wheel but my god was I freaking out. Not a proud moment! Phobias are weird things.

  4. I'm so sorry, but I was laughing so hard I had to read your post out to my kids because they wanted to know what was so funny! Then they reminded me of the time we had the enormous arachnid on the dashboard of the car while I was driving. My son in the front seat screamed and went fetal. I screamed, and my daughter threw me the book she was reading. In one swift motion I whacked the offending 8-legged beastie so hard that it stood no chance. All the while driving. Did not kill the kids or myself. Just the spider. We still talk about the ninja style with which I caught the book, dealt with the spider, and drove the car at the same time! Amazing what a healthy dose of fear can do for you.

    Glad you are all well and survived! I often look for the grown-up at my house (despite the 6 kids) especially when the cat has been sick :-(

    1. As I always say, if I can make it funny it's all worth it. :)

  5. I think I'd be OK with it being on the OUTSIDE of the car, but inside? It would be all over. I had a paralyzing expierence with a huge spider in my bathroom last year:

    Kerry B



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