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White Knuckle Parenting: Being the Mom at Taste of Wheaton

My family loves going to Taste of Wheaton. One of these days I am going to be able to stop taking care of them there and start enjoying the festival for myself. (This year was not that year.)

My husband loves Taste of Wheaton. My kids do as well. After all, what is not to love about an annual festival where you can buy any number of small samples of delicious food for next to nothing while going on free carnival rides and dancing to fun bands?

Nothing. There is nothing to not love about that.

The problem I have with Taste of Wheaton is that, as the mom, I don't get to do any of that. Here's a startling fact about what it means for me to mother my children at the event—after nearly a decade of attendance, I have literally never managed to eat any food at Taste of Wheaton.

My family headed out to the event late in the afternoon last Sunday and you know what I did during the hour and a half we were there?

I stood in line with my oldest son so he could climb the rock wall.

I mean, I was able to chat a little bit with a friend I ran into and my family and I heard some music and walked around a little, but mostly I just stood there in that line.

My husband and other two kids went on all the other rides and bought some snacks before they came back to watch my son reach the front of the line. (They arrived just after a very tiny, unattended girl cut in line right in front of my son and I. Incidentally, it is really hard to object to a very small kid's butting in line without looking like a jerk. I couldn't figure out how to do it.)

After my kiddo successfully scaled the wall (after the tiny girl), it finally looked like I was going to be able to find some food. I started to ask my husband what booths we should hit when he said, "If we eat now, we're just going to ruin our dinner."

I have no idea if I said this out loud or not, but the question echoing in my head was, "THEN WHAT ON EARTH ARE WE DOING HERE?!"

I have a long history with shouting things and being generally annoyed at Taste of Wheaton. In our early days at the event, my husband would leave me with my young, unruly children at the rides while he wandered off to find the best food. By the time he would come back, my kids would be exhausted and ready to go home—and I would be too.

Then there was the year I was, like, nine months and a day pregnant. I did not enjoy Taste of Wheaton that year.

One year I spent the afternoon documenting and posting about our afternoon on social media. My husband might have been the one to yell and be annoyed that year. Even then, however, I was too busy keeping track of my kids to manage to balance plates and run after them at the same time.

Then there was the year I scheduled one of our kids' birthday parties on the same day as the event and we had to miss it entirely. After taking in the grumbling from my husband, I will never make that mistake again.

That is why this year, even though I wasn't thrilled with the prospect of herding my kids around and watching my husband eat, I happily agreed to go. I do believe I managed to communicate all of that through my disbelieving face when my husband suggested that eating food at a food festival was a bad idea.

My incredulity convinced my husband to head over to the food booths. Sadly, by the time my husband and I bought our kids pizza slices and hot dogs, they were done with a capital "D." If I wanted to get out of downtown Wheaton before at least one of my kids had a sensory meltdown, there was no time to find the delicious noodles I wanted to eat before we had to head back to our car.

You know what though? My kids had a blast. My husband had a blast. If most of my family had such a great time, it is worth it to me to keep going back—and one of these years I'm finally going to manage to actually get a taste of Wheaton.

Jean, a.k.a. Stimey, writes a personal blog at Stimeyland. You can find her on Twitter as @Stimey and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Stimeyland.

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