I asked the kids if they wanted to go to the zoo this week, and two of them were all for it. Big Boy informed me that he had no interest unless “we can go buy stuff.” Not wishing to deal with his endless pleading to buy things in addition to a runaway toddler and melodramatic daughter, I chose to wait until Friday, when he would be in school all day.

(We then proceeded to have a doozy of a day on Wednesday… a few highlights include Little Boy climbing on top of the TV and running away several times during Big Boy’s crowded open house at school, Little Girl’s total meltdown at the open house in which I was helpless to calm her down, and a nap interrupted three times by the doorbell.)

Friday was a much better day. Little Boy, Little Girl, and I had a very nice, though somewhat muggy, visit to the zoo. With school in session, we really enjoyed the less-busy day there.

We saw Little Boy’s favorites, the “j-raffes” and the “muh-keys.” The gibbons were hollering and swinging all over their enclosure, much to everyone’s delight.

Little Boy knows the zoo as well as I do. He kept catching me bypassing animals in my effort to find less-difficult hills to haul them up and down. I had to agree to take them back again soon to see the animals we missed (though I suspect that we’ll have to go see the g-raffes and muh-keys every time — Big Boy went through this phase at age 2 with eh-wuh-wents too).

Our zoo is quite hilly. I’ll never forget wrangling a wheelchair with one hand and a double stroller with the other hand and a hip and nearly bursting out in tears of frustration because I couldn’t keep them going in the right direction without crashing into each other and I was terrified that I’d lose control of Elli’s wheelchair. It was waaaaay more stressful than I ever dreamed possible for a trip to the zoo. I think I even snapped at Big Boy, who was still quite young and was too small to really help when I asked him to. It was one of those times when I crashed face-first into the reality that I could not expect to be able to do “normal” things with my not-so-normal family. Not without help, anyway.

This week’s visit was much more enjoyable. I’m ever-so-slowly getting better at being realistic about what I should and should not expect both from the kids and from myself, and planning accordingly. I’m convinced that learning this is one of the keys to being a good mother.