I can remember hanging out with friends late one night and somehow the conversation turned to people swapping stories about the worst things they did as kids and their worst punishments. There were definitely some doozies in the bunch, and when my turn came I got all dramatic and said that when I was kid, it was horrible and torturous to be sent to bed early. All of my friends just looked at me and laughed, but I truly meant it. I hated that. Going to bed early meant that somewhere downstairs the rest of my family was having fun without me. I was missing out. I would lay in bed and listen to my parents watching some grownup show and eating ice cream and laughing and it felt so mean.
Now that I'm a parent, I staunchly refuse to "miss out" because I have a child. I like to think of children only in terms of gain, not in terms of loss. In other words, just because I have a baby doesn't mean I have to miss out and stay in and not have any fun. All too often we adults talk about all that we lost when we had kids (freedom, money, sleep, etc.) instead of what we have I gained. To me, a child means I get to laugh more, see the world freshly, and get creative in how I plan our lives, in what we do and where we go. I love that. I think I've had more fun since wee ones entered our lives than I ever have before.
I obviously hold to the importance of routines for children, but I hate schedules. I've worked to have a flexible family and flexible child, and I'm grateful that we don't always have to stop being or doing or going because it's nap time. I'm a naps on the beach and popcorn in the shopping cart and diaper changes in the car kind of mama. We work naps in and we work around naps, we have snacks on the fly and I keep my car stocked with extra diapers, changes of clothes and jackets. I like to keep things fluid and be spontaneous, and yes- I'm proud to say that spontaneity is still possible with children.
Most of the time.
Sometimes I just get a little over-the-top. Sometimes my plans for naps during long car rides don't go as planned, and as the minutes tick by and a little head doesn't nod, my stress levels go up just a bit because I know that things are going to get...well...interesting. I tend to be a bit dogged in my "we're going to have fun if it kills us" mentality, and while I'm often grateful for that gene, I also need to take a step back sometimes and realize that it's okay to do just one fun/amazing/adventurous/exciting activity in one day.
Take last Saturday, for example.
Here was my plan: Get up at 8, visit some yard sales on the way to mom and dad's, hang out with the family and get Sweet Pea a nap while Lenny helps Dad with a project for a bit, load up the kids, drive back out to Boyds, have a bike ride, have a picnic, stop at an apple orchard while driving back to my mom's, let the kids sleep in the car, stop at the store to grab s'more stuff, eat dinner, have friends over for a bonfire in the woods, give the kids s'mores, put the kids to bed, hang out longer for grownup time at the bonfire, go to sleep.
Basically, it was the best day ever. We actually did every single thing on that list, and we had a very lovely and very memorable day. However, it really was (shocker!) a bit too much. I was utterly exhausted at the end of the day, and I realized that if I had cut out just one or two things the day would have been even more amazing. I need to let myself be ok with not being super family.
The car naps didn't quite go as planned because two very excited little girls just kept enjoying playing with each other. So our apple orchard visit (which was really the element that put everything over the top) definitely left something to be desired. I was tired, they were tired; and when Bean is tired, she is ball of constant motion and chatter. At one point, after hearing, "Taylor, can I have another cookie?" for the 10 billionth time, I took her little face in my hands and started laughing so hard I was crying. She was a little confused. I finally squeaked out a little chat about voice loudness and patience and we were good to go after that.
|"Whatcha doin', babe?"|
"Just ticklin' the flower wif the leaf."
|What I got when I asked for a smile...|
|Bonus points if you remember the shot from last year!|
Anyway, here's to adventure. I hope we don't lose this "go big or go home" attitude, but I hope I'm learning to be just a tad more realistic. But just a tad!