I couldn't help but think about the recent online discussion about whether kids should be allowed in certain places - like restaurants, stores, even bars - as I traipsed around Chicago completely solo for an entire weekend.
At home, I'm fortunate to have a spouse whose job allows me to get out on my own during the day (and night, if I so choose) every now and then, particularly for menial tasks like grocery shopping and doctor visits where I really don't like taking the kids.
For me, it just so happens to be one of the sacrifices that comes with being a parent. There are limitations to what I can do with my offspring in tow, and I'm perfectly fine with that.
Believe me. It sucks to hit the big fancy mall and have to walk right by Sephora without even getting close enough to sniff the perfume.
And let's be clear. There's no rule that says I can't bring my kids in there, or any other stores or restaurants, at least that I'm immediately aware of.
But personally, it's the fact that I have absolutely no desire to go into any of these places with my kids because it's not worth the extra calorie burn and the 4000 sorries I'll have to recite to all the shoppers and staff.
I rarely ever go to the mall with my kids, and if we do go out to eat, it's at the same family friendly restaurant with a specific system in place - early arrival before the big dinner crowd, activities packed to keep them busy, and rewards offered for good behavior.
Even then I still dread it.
Now this is not to say that there are exceptions - teeny babies snuggled in a sling are extremely portable. And well-behaved kiddos, like my oldest, aren't an issue. My daughter would be perfectly fine sitting in a hair salon and could hold her own, correct fork and all, at a fancy restaurant.
But most of the time, I've got all 3 muskateers alone - and it's all for one, one for all, which generally spells a pretty gigantic headache, cold food - if I get any at all, and promises of ice cream cartons and head-sized lollipops just so I can get through the check-out without losing one of them.
And there are plenty of family-friendly and kid-centric places - eateries and shops - that I don't feel bad about taking my kids and doing what I have to do (like nurse them or change them) where I know they won't raise an eyebrow when I walk in with all my kids.
And honestly, shame on them for kicking a mom out for breastfeeding.
Sure, I get the notion that taking my children with me wherever I go can be a good life lesson - a way for them to learn and experience social norms. And in doing so, they will learn to appreciate the experience and not whip through the store like a terrible toddler tornado.
But there are just some places, like Sephora or the amazing restaurant I ate at on Saturday night or yes, certain (and I'll say it - most) bars where I think bringing kids is questionable. Even somewhat unacceptable.
And don't get me started about putting babies on the bar.
Let's be honest here. I'm pretty sure make-up and facial product emergencies are rare. And if you have one, you can hop over to Rite-Aid for your quick fix.
And if you've got a toddler, you probably don't need to eat at place where the food actually requires you to chew and savor every warm bite.
Now this is not because I can't go into these places, well, for the most part anyway. There's no rule saying I can't bring my kids with me.
But I don't even bother doing these things because it's just absolutely no fun. Not just for me, but for everyone else around me.
It's actually more frustrating for me to corral my kids without losing my shit than it is to just pass those stores by, or wait for the opportunity to eat at those restaurants until I have a babysitter.
And so, instead of investing in a baby harness (read: kid leash) and a whole stash of Tylenol, I'll just save my pennies for the babysitter or a precious (and rare) weekend away.
And I will savor every single child-free second of it.
[I'll be heading to San Francisco next week, so unless you've got a teeny weeny baby or you want to give your kids the sex talk really early, grab a sitter or enlist your co-parent so you can join me at Good Vibrations Berkeley and Good Vibrations Polk Street Gallery. And many thanks to Orchard Hotels for putting me up during my stay!]