I do my best to keep this blog positive, in part because there are enough people in the world complaining about PT (really, there are enough people in the world complaining, period), but mostly because I really do enjoy my life on the bus. There are certainly challenges, but every choice comes with challenges, and I’ll take mine over all of the drawbacks of driving. I digress.
Folks, in addition to keeping it positive, I like to keep it real, and I have to say, I’m feeling pretty challenged right now. The transition from bus parent of one to bus parent of two has been harder than any I have made so far, including the transition from car-owning bus enthusiast to car-free full-time rider–and even from happily childless bus chick to bus mom. Of course, not all of the pain I am feeling right now is about travel; adjusting to parenting two has been tough for me, even (perhaps especially) when we’re in the house all day. Still, I’d be lying if I said that the bus wasn’t contributing to my angst. Peep it:
The first time I rode the bus with both babies, it was for a family outing: Nerd, Chicklet, week-old Busling, and me. Our Goddaughter, Layla, was turning one, and (thanks to the enormous families of both of her parents), her party was held at a community center in the south end. The three-bus trip (48 + 7 + 39) was less than ideal but was doable with two adults, and, despite the fact that Chicklet was a bit antsy during transfers, we managed it pretty well.
The trip home was more of a challenge, since the 39 only runs once per hour on Sunday evenings. Saying our goodbyes and getting Chicklet appropriately bundled took longer than we expected, and we barely missed the bus we had planned to catch. Had we been traveling without children, this would have been a minor inconvenience, but since we were dealing with a toddler’s bedtime, a newborn’s feeding schedule, a post-partum mom’s fatigue, and a party that ended before the next bus was scheduled to arrive, it was a major inconvenience. We ended up taking a cab home, sans car seats. I worried for the entire (thankfully short) ride.
The second time I rode the bus with both babies, it was to meet my friend Kelley and her daughter at a park in Madrona. On that day, I was parenting solo, and, thanks to a morning errand in the neighborhood, arrived at the 48 stop mere seconds before the bus did. I quickly removed Chicklet from her stroller, but when I tried to fold it down, it wouldn’t budge; a stack of papers I had tossed into the storage basket earlier that morning was in the way.
While I squatted on the sidewalk, trying to un-jam the stroller–with one hand on the baby (to prevent him from tipping out of the sling-like carrier he’s riding in until he gets big enough for the real deal) and one hand on Chicklet (to prevent her from running into the busy street we were waiting near)–the bus pulled up, and folks started boarding. When they finished, I was still struggling.
The driver peered out the door and asked politely, “Are y’all coming?” but I was so embarrassed and discombobulated, I shook my head.
“I’ll just catch the next one,” I said, and then watched as he closed the doors and drove away.
The three of us did, in fact, wait the 15+ minutes for the next bus, and when it arrived, I was prepared: Busling strapped to my chest, bus chick bag on my left shoulder, Chicklet on my left hip, Orca card in my left hand (ready to swipe), stroller folded up and ready to be carried on board with my free right hand. I managed to get everyone–and everything–on and off without incident, but that ride only took us part of the way there. (We still had a short 2 ride, which I skipped in favor of a medium-distance walk, to go.) By the time we finally made it to the park, I was stressed and tired, and we were late to meet our friends.
Since that enjoyable trip, we’ve gone on several outings as a threesome, with (thankfully) much less drama. For one thing, I don’t always bring the stroller for Chicklet; she’s capable of walking several blocks on her own. Whether or not I bring it depends on how far we have to walk–and whether I’ll need to contain her–when we get where we’re going. For another, I usually don’t arrive at stops right when the bus does. When I get there a couple of minutes early, I don’t have to rush to get ready to board and am therefore better prepared to deal with any equipment malfunctions that may arise.
Of course, getting anywhere on time (let alone a couple of minutes early) with a newborn and a two-year old is a feat in itself. This is one of the many reasons I am grateful that I can walk to many of my regular destinations. When it’s not raining, we walk to church, to the library (it’s across the street!), to the park, to the doctor’s office, to restaurants and coffee shops, to grocery and drug stores, to community centers, and to friends’ houses. On occasion, we even walk downtown.
And so, here’s hoping I’ll get to reap at least one reward of the bus (or not) parenting lifestyle: A speedy return to my pre-Busling form.