…Cause I have a bone to pick.
Let me begin this post by saying, “I am NOT at a good place with my children.” We have traded a life filled with Aunts, Uncles, Grand-parents, Great-grandparents, and friends who have loved on and invested in our children, for a life on our own out here on the West coast. We know it is going to be good for us, but the repercussions of that choice at this very moment are a little…much. I have learned that my girls have grown accustomed to a WHOLE HECK OF A LOT more attention than I am physically able to offer.
In practical application in my life it looks like this: Jeremiah has a strenuous new job, so it’s my—-(cross) opportunity to show him we’re in this together by taking on the girls in their entirety. Yes, amen. He needs me. I want to be here. B.U.T there’s the real issue of the tee-ninciness of this apartment, the fact that Mary Aplin has been like a cantankerous, leaky faucet to potty train, the foreign nature of a new big city, and the lack of another loving family member to absorb some of the girls’ energy/attention/education/need to be in the spotlight/HELP!!! to deal with.
Those first two paragraphs are the intro. I just don’t want you to think I’m talking to you from some mother-of-the-year-who-adores-every-last-ounce-of-her-children high horse. My children have embarrassed me in public and harassed me in private more in the past month, than they have in their entire lives combined…but, they’re still my two favorite little people on the earth. Which is why I want to say this:
WHY DOES SEATTLE HAVE A PROBLEM WITH CHILDREN??!!!
There are a handful of restaurants in Birmingham, Alabama that I would not take my children for dinner. Because they are expensive, or have white table-cloths, or have a bar filled with rowdy people that I don’t want them exposed to. A handful. However, here in Seattle I feel like every restaurant we approach, I have to walk inside, with my proverbial hat in my hands and ask, “Is it alright for my children to eat here???” And 8 times out of ten….they tell me, “No, sorry. No kids here.” And I walk back out with a red face, muttering under my breath about how embarrassing that was, and wishing that I could try Seattle sans babies and see if it sets me ablaze.
Maybe I’m looking in the wrong places, because I have yet to find a “cheap” restaurant in Seattle either…except for good ‘ol Taco Bell and McDonalds. However, even a drive-through chain, you know the ones that grace every street corner (to the point of being eye-sores) in the South, are extremely hard to find here. How many times have you had to use a GPS system to find MickeyD’s? Because that’s the only way you’ll find one here in Seattle. And you can snicker about me being so desperate to find McDonalds, but you just think about being out and about after a hair-brained morning, finally getting both girls strapped into their car seats, and then think about having to 1) find an open parking space big enough for your big ‘ol SUV 2) parallel park 3) pay (with the cash you never have) for your parking space 4) undo both girls from their carseats as cars whizz by your precariously open door 5)and then walking with your whiney, hungry children that several blocks back to the cute but (hopefully) inexpensive local restaurant you just passed…YOU’D BE GPS’ING A DRIVE-THROUGH TOO!
Why can’t Pace and Mary Aplin come with Jeremiah and me to dinner anywhere in Seattle that is not a chain?
Do you think children are disruptive? Do you think they are more disruptive than that loud drunk guy who almost spilled his drink all over me?
Do you think they are distracting? Do you think they are more distracting than that man with hairy legs wearing a short white tennis skirt with tall black socks?
Do you think they are messy? Are they more messy than that woman’s dog underneath her table with its tongue hanging out of his mouth?
I know that some children are un–ruly and my children probably shouldn’t be allowed in public at this particular point in time either, but I say–Let the parents make that call! Then, if they don’t make a good decision, you have every right to ask them to please excuse themselves (and here is your food in a doggie bag). But, don’t act like my children are lower class citizens than the dogs you allow to crouch underneath the table. They are marvelous little people, who I would prefer to spend an evening with over almost any adult I know. And you hurt my feelings.
I feel like society has some things confused, and this rant comes after finding myself stepping in line with society. After the embarrassment of being turned away from several restaurants and the hesitation to go into another for fear of facing the same fate, I found myself wondering (laughingly) how our parents would feel if we just shipped the girls home for a couple of months and really experienced Seattle.
Then, today I heard some info-mercial on PBS saying, “…because families are made for FUN…” And it hit me like a nine-pound hammer: God–the supreme being who spoke the whole universe into existence–instituted marriage and the family. He created us for fun, for purpose, for the satisfying life that He intended. I am not weird for wanting my children by my side as we experience life–that’s exactly what God intended. How can we expect to foster confident, loving children if we don’t delight in their fellowship and love their company (Is anybody else channeling Edith Schaeffer :))?
Now you know why I started this blog the way I did. At this particular moment, Jeremiah has taken the girls to get ice cream because I could not take one more minute of togetherness :)… I understand that couples need date night (I more than most, I think!) and there should be restaurants out there that children are generally…unwelcome. But not the majority of them. Even on “date night” if you can’t delight in the sound of laughing children in the background–you need to check the status of your own heart. I know I’ve often had to check the status of mine.
(I do feel the need to point out two restaurants that have been safe havens to us when we were walking around, stranded with no place to eat with the girls. Both of these restaurants not only allowed our children inside, but were very kind to them and gave them crayons to color with: Volunteer Park Cafe (Steph it was all you said and more!!!) and Lombardi’s (which is actually a bit of a Seattle chain, but beggars can’t be choosers.))
I remember taking Jordan and Gregory to a restaurant on Rodeo Drive when they were 2 and 5. The maitre d looked snootedly down at them, pointed at them with his sweet little finger and said "do they need seat belts??????" We said "NO they can handle themselves just fine without one". They let us in and we were stared at the whole time. Things haven't changed a whole lot out West huh?????
Abby, I UNDERSTAND…I felt the same way about— Seattle! Unless you, LIVE, there, and not visit, there….You just can't understand how different it is from AL. I thought it was like living in France. We did so for two yrs. before returning to Dothan. I understand how you feel about their ways…they are VERY different is all I can say about that one. Once…We took our two young boys, ages 2 and 3 to the Seattle Zoo. Bo broke away and was already heading down to… the shark display..I mean in the water! Ashley had to run so fast and grab him. I thought the people around us would die. They didn't even notice or seem to care! LOL..It's just a odd place– to me, this Seattle, WS. Good news is…YOU don't have to stay and it will sure make you think about returning to family and loved ones back in the GOOD OLE' SOUTH!!! For now…Try your best to laugh it off. I know, I know, I know..IT ain't easy! I tried and failed MANY times…But, if you can see– it through a different view (one you can smile at) it does become almost– okay. Your girls are precious, and don't allow anything, or anyone to steal their– or your– joy from you! You don't live in Seattle…you are just there…for a long visit is all! :O) Glory be to God!!! Each day is a new day and something good is always go to come up! NEVER give up!!! I think it is good to vent and know your feelings. It's just what we do with those feelings that counts! I am happy to report. Ashley made it through her four yrs. of living in Seattle. Hawaii is her reward today!!! See…. God is good! :O) You can do it!!!! Just write, and write, and write!
P.S. Seattle has these in-door gym places for kids. Have you found one, yet? You can play inside and eat, there, too! It will save your lives and mind come winter time! Check out and see if your friend knows where one is close to you. If you want I can ask Ashley. Ashley will buy the yearly pass for her family. I remember spending night and day at this place! McDonald Playland, too! :O)
Oh Abby! Seattle is truly a different world from good old South Alabama, isn't it? I feel for you and the frustrations you're dealing with. I would be right there with you if I were in your shoes!
I don't know if this helps at all, but maybe a couple of these places are in your neighborhood? Hang in there, momma!
Stop asking if children are "allowed" anymore… Just walk in like you own the place! Everyone might be pleasantly surprised by your sweet girls! 🙂
Yelp.com it is a rating system online for all things and it is used in big cities. I am positive a lot of people will use this where you are anyone can post a response and the restaurants usually READ THEM!!! Go on there and look for a friendly place to bring your kids.
say to the restaurant people, "you like my dog, you will like my children, too." most people have a way into their hearts.
THANK YOU so much for writing this!!!! I too adore my children, but I feel like I'm being looked down on when I say I need a break from them. I don't have family around and never have, so we rely on friends to help out and return the favor for them as well. I appreciate your honesty and welcome it with open arms. And I thank you also for the little snippet about why God created families. Too bad not everyone out there seems to feel the same way.
Maybe there are some people you know that would want to invest money in & open a kid friendly, healthy, family restaurant in Seattle? You have such a gift of writing! I love it!!
I grew up in Michigan & I can remember moving to the South ~ we couldn't believe how friendly & kid oriented everyone was.
Praying some nice people with kids will come your way 🙂
Abby–I am just a "lurker" on your blog–a friend told me about you and I have been reading since before you left Alabama. I just wanted to tell you that I can barely read some of your posts because my eyes are filled with tears and my heart just aches for you even though I don't "know" you. I will pray for you all. I have been in similar situation-off without a support system–it's a rough thing. Hang in there–your little family is all that matters in life.
Is there not a Ballet class for the children in the area to sign them up a pre- school at a local church ?? Story time at the local library?? karate class, zumba , tours at a museum, tours at a google factory , tours at the seattle whatever?? newspaper tours historical society , play grounds , a pool– does the nearby hotel sell pool privileges??? country club join a country club
Also Try for story time "lap and toddler" time at the local library. They always have great programs and it FREE
Maybe you (with Jeremiah and Ashley) will just have to open your own restaurant like LaPaz?
Is your silver tea set in storage? as are your cook books? Maybe the University of Washington has a food court — how does that institution handle hungry college students ?? I would seek out the areas that cater to the college students as high priced meals probably are not to be found– plus maybe the secret to eating in Seattle is supper clubs !! does not yale have eating clubs or society something like that home cooked meals in a home — I am just throwing that out there if you don't ask — people probably think you have it "covered' Also Is there a boys and girls club offering child care ?? is there a YMCA in town ??? does not the Hospital offer a family support group that is– offer a knowledgeable person to connect new comers with services ?? If not sounds like you have an opportunity to develop a list and sell this resource guide to Seattle new comers.. My research has discovered Washington has the Seattle freeze –they don't like new combers and cracking the ice is a task only a few rise to the challenge. Your girls are in new surroundings as you and maybe they sense your unease and frustrations. it may be hard to compare your new home with the old home but your new home is your new home — now — good luck at least you did not experience a Katrina upheaval.
Have you looked into a MOPS group in the area? I would recommend that. Or maybe there is a meetup group for moms? I can totally relate to having more than my fill of family time… Those are long days!!!! Just remember, love is patient, love is kind…
I love reading anonymous comments. I also love you and your children… I also think you have about 48 hours 'til the move… and how many hours 'til Ashley & Alex get there? I'm sure you all have that one counted down too! Praying for y'all…
Hi, hi! My name is Devon–a mom of two boys out here in Seattle. I just heard about your blog (and your big move out here) from our mutual friend Darby.
I loved your post today. There are so many things that struck a chord as being so similar to our life! Although we are native Washington-ians, we didn't grow up in Seattle. Moving here to Seattle was unbelievably difficult for me. People are quite friendly but never open up to the point of actually inviting you over for dinner. Social circles are set up at birth and are hard to break into. But do trust me that there are some great people out here and you will find yourself with more friends than you can handle…very shortly!
If it makes you feel any better on the potty training front, my son reached into his diaper last night and pulled out his poop. And dumped it in the potty. And then walked in to show me his hands. I almost lost it. 🙂
I do know TONS of places here that are great for kids. Please, please email me–I'd love to e-meet you and help you out. You are an extremely adventurous mom for moving out here. It's going to take some time but I promise you that you won't regret it!
You know Anonymous has written some pretty good poems. Maybe Anonymous is one humble lazy google lacking account sinner
Here a couple "kid-friendly" places…
Tutta Bella (pizza and salad place)- there are a couple locations around
Roberto's (another italian place) on Mercer Island is kid friendly
We have gone to La Spiga and Machiavelli in Capitol Hill…I would just go early if you go there..not sure if they have kids menus though…
My boyfriend takes his kids there with no problem. His daughter will only eat Italian food…so if you want/need more suggestions let me know.
Abby, your posts always leave me laughing out loud or in tears but this one leaves me wanting to hop on a plane and come play with your sweet girls for an afternoon and give you a break. Hum…would this good ole Southern blog stalker be better than the complete stranger Jeremiah asked to keep them? I promise I'm normal, other than that blog stalking thing! I had always thought of Seattle as this cool, hip city but now I'm thinking it's a foreign country of some sort. Really? Their restaurants don't allow kids? There have been times that I have wanted to crawl under the table for the way my nieces and nephew have acted in restaurants but not to allow them? Crazy! Hope things get better once you're in your permanent (for the next few months) place!
I am another "lurker" on your blog. You are a wonderful writer and I laugh and cry all the time while reading your blog. I went to Samford with your husband. Below is a link to a blog of a family that moved to Seattle from Memphis at the begining of the year. Kat (wife and mom on blog) went to Samford and I grew up with her husband's sister in TN. Kat is super friendly and she writes a wonderful blog. Just thought I would pass along.
Ashley Cantrell Goetz
Hi! You have no idea who I am but let me explain the connection. I went to Samford (graduated in '04) and I am from Knoxville, TN. A friend of mine from high school has a sister who knows your husband from Samford and she posted on my blog about you being new to town. We moved to Seattle from Memphis in January. SO…I'm being a freak and saying hi. I am far from an expert on this city but if you ever need anything just let me know! My blog is http://www.thespottsblog.blogspot.com
Hope I am not freaking you out. Promise I'm not a stalker!
Hey Abby….I keep checking for a new blog, and decided that you are loving your new home so much AND have met so many new friends, that you don't have time to update us:))And also are taking the girls out to eat at the new kid friendly restaurants that all your NEW friends have told you about:) We are looking forward to our trip to Seattle (and for me…the first leg and a few days in Los Angeles with Jenna)!!!!! Can't wait to see ya'll and also have fun with Pace and Mary Aplin…so you and Jeremiah can go on some dates:))) We are DEFINITELY excited!!!!!
LOVED this post! You are sheer honesty and entertainment in a wonderful way. I can't imagine how difficult this whole transition is for you, but you are handling it with much grace:) Hang in there!
HUGS!!! 🙁 How frustrating!