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Summer Fun: BBQ, Fireworks, Bounce House--And No Break For Mom!

JD and I went to a summer festival with our friends on Saturday. It was in a huge, open grassy field and everyone brought tents to set up shop. There were BBQ and ice cream stands—and kegs. Massive blow-up apparatuses, like a castle jump house, mega slide and tube tunnel dotted the space. I was really excited to go, because I knew there would be a lot to entertain JD and maybe, just maybe, I’d even get to sit in the grass and sip a beer.

Well, we arrived on foot (and in stroller) after parking our car at my friends Amy and Ed's house. JD was pointing and “whoaing” when he saw the bounce stations and big neon yellow fire trucks that were spraying water everywhere, cooling down a crowd of kids in bright bathing suits with wet hair plastered to the sides of their faces.

Our group found a patch of free grass and we hoisted our tent up. Ed positioned the coolers that were filled with beer and food that probably could have easily fed us for two days. At this point, JD was squirming in his stroller saying, “I get out, I go jump.” At this point, I was craving an icy cold beer and a break--the walk to the event and set-up wore me out. EHHH, wrong answer, [single] mom! I unhooked JD’s seatbelt and he took off—and of course I ran after him. That moment, him running barefoot through the sun-drenched lawn, thick, humid air and me, saying, “Wait for Mommy!” pretty much set the tone for the next six hours. SIX HOURS.

He climbed into the bounce castle and jumped happily with his friends Lily and Claire. They bumped into each other, plopped down and bounced back up laughing.

After twenty-minutes in there, It took a juice box bride to get him to come out. I got him to sit for maybe two minutes and hydrate and in that time I sprayed him down with my handy spray bottle, while he said, “Mommy, don’t, please stop-ah.”

At this point my mom friends were sitting on the blanket, in the shade, sipping beers and talking—their kids were off with their daddies. I took a quick swig of beer, then chased after JD who was about to disappear into a crowd of toddlers and kids. I heard my friend, Amy, say, “Chrissy, sit, I’ll watch JD,” but I was gone.

The tube crawl scared JD because there were blow-up characters that were flapping in the breeze and they looked like “scary monster boys,” according to him. “You come with me, Mommy,” he said. “Hold hands.” In we went, crawling through the humid, sticky plastic tunnel—JD declaring, “Coo-wool,” the whole time. More like, HOT!

When he spotted the dunk tank, I was able to stand still for a few moments and it was like a vacation, I swear, because I’d literally been chasing him around the field of fun for two hours already (and even said to my friend, Alex, ‘Is this normal. He won’t sit still!?' As I looked down at her little girls eating pretzels). Next, I coaxed him over to the tent for dinner and offered up a hot dog that he refused to eat, because it was, “Ew, yucky!” Instead he chomped on watermelon and sucked back another juice box. I ate his hot dog and sipped my warm, flat beer that I had started when we arrived. Mmm.

Mid-watermelon-bite, he saw the big, yellow, neon fire truck, glistening in the sun and spraying water everywhere. He took off for it, not even looking back. Back on my feet I jogged after him. In the corner of my eye, I saw Ed, Lily’s dad, playing catch with her. Amy, his wife, was eating a chicken salad wrap. In this very moment, I realized something, while, I may not have JD’s dad around to do…ANYTHING, we’re not missing out on ANYTHING. I whirled around on the grass catching panoramic views of the field, music blasting from the DJ booth and flushed, little faces at all angles. We’re in it JD, every, single day, you and me, off on another adventure. (Last week we did Thomas the Train Day.)

In the next hours JD ran around the field at warp speed, me trailing him. Went back in the bounce castle, won a dance contest and discovered a water fountain and decided it was "just like my water table!" He played baseball with the daddies, but always looked up to make sure I was watching, and I was just a few feet away. It was a really crowded event and I never let JD out of MY sight. That's right, MY and maybe that's why even though I can trust my friends to watch him, he's MY child, MY sole responsibility. No break for mommy, and you know what? It's OK.

As dusk set in and the sky started to turn a pretty shade of purple, I was able to convince JD to sit down on my lap and get ready for the main attraction, the fireworks—BOOM! At this point he decided he was starving because he ate a cube of watermelon for dinner. His friend, Juliana, had her hand deep in a family-size bag of cool ranch Doritos and soon JD was digging in. They polished off the bag and slurped blue raspberry ice. “My hands all blue, Mommy,” JD said.

The first firework set off and JD jumped like the thing pulsed through his little body. The sky exploded into a wide burst of orange and red—and JD exploded into tears. “I scared, I wanna go home and go night-night.” WHAT! After I chased you around for six hours, you don’t want to SIT and watch the fireworks with me!? I tried to calm him down but his body shook and his grip around my neck tightened. There were moments when he was reaching for a breath. Oh, the drama! We left our friends and walked back to Amy and Ed’s house in the pitch black alone, as the sky lit up in red, green, yellow, and blue, again and again.

JD said, “That better, Mommy,” as we walked further away from the field and the booms got quieter.

As I hoisted JD into his car seat, he looked at me seriously and said, “That was fun Mommy.”

And that’s all that matters.

My friend, Amy, offered to chase JD around for me, but I declined. I'm curious, single moms, do you decline help sometimes, too? I guess I'm just used to being the only one around, so even when someone offers to help, I usually say, no. Do you get overwhelmed and anxious at big events since you're the only one watching your child? Please share!

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