Two months a year I get to pretend I'm a stay at home mom, and during the past three summers I've discovered one thing for certain. I hate staying home. It's not that I don't love being with my girls, but I find being home harder than being elsewhere. They bicker and argue, I get distracted by organizing their closet or cleaning out the garage, and we don't make any fun memories like those I've pinned on Pinterest. So, before summer even began, I drafted a calendar of something to do most of the 5 weekdays. It's not a strict schedule, but when in doubt, we consult my calendar and we know what kind of fun is out there today.
For Anna's birthday I bought Summer Passes to the Children's Museum of Winston-Salem. It's been the best $60 I've ever spent. The museum has different activities every day from concerts to stories and crafts, even my 9 year old has fun. Having passes has allowed us to go for just a couple hours at a time without me feeling like we need to try to get everything in. When it's hot and humid or cloudy and rainy, it's so nice to have the option to stay inside somewhere!
Another fun spot is the Sprayground at Keeley Park. It's a little far out for us, but for a special trip every couple weeks that's free other than the gas to get there, it's completely worth it! The girls love the "splash splash" and I love being able to get them outside. We pack our lunch, get there early, and enjoy the sunshine. Another perk for me: after enjoying the water for a few hours, a joint naptime is likely to ensue.
Reagan has a huge fear of most animals, but especially four legged ones. I blame our neighbor's dog, but I don't really know where the fear came from. However, it is real and it is fierce. She's even scared of our other neighbor's tiny furball dog. So, I wanted to take the girls somewhere they could get up close and personal with some animals. Naturally this would occur on the hottest day of the summer, but I took all three littles to tour Homeland Creamery in Julian. They all loved the hayride and especially the ice cream afterwards. We learned a lot about dairy cows & farm life. It made me miss calling the middle of nowhere home. When it cools off we may go do it again, just to get a better look at the cows, who seem to dislike the summer heat as much as me!
We also do storytime at the library, playdates with friends at the park, shopping at the farmer's market, and going to visit daddy at work. The robots there are super cool! Honestly I'm up for anything to stay busy and occasionally finding some adults to interact with during the day. We are really enjoying our summer full of "field trips" as Brent told the dentist the other day. I absolutely love being home with my kiddos, even when we're not at home.
Sunday, July 6, 2014
I have a great group of mommy friends that I met through an online birth board/forum when I was home on maternity leave with Anna. If it weren't for this group of ladies, I'm pretty sure I would have felt completely isolated. Being home with a 1 year old and a newborn was hard work. Unlike anything I could have ever prepared myself for. I had a lot of anxiety after Reagan was born and didn't know it wasn't supposed to be like that, until I brought Anna home and I didn't have any of those feelings. I'm pretty sure my "virtual" friends kept me sane.
I've been thinking about how my children make friends. We have been home on summer break for a couple weeks, and I've watched my girls interact with other kids at the park, at the children's museum, and at storytime at the library. I've taken a step back from their sides (I have a whole other post for another day about being a "lazy mom"), and allowed them the freedom to make choices without my hand in theirs. I, sometimes, tend to hover, and it turns out, they don't need me to! I know, my jaw dropped too. The thing with children is, they don't know strangers when it comes to people their own size. If they want to make donuts at the the pretend doughnut factory, then they jump right beside the next kid, put on a hat and start playing. If they want to compliment someone on how high they swing, they do it. If they need to borrow the glue stick from the little boy in the chair beside them, they take it.... So, their communication skills could be tweaked, but when a kid sees and opportunity they take it.
I'm not sure when this ends. When it stops being socially acceptable to befriend someone you just met. Perhaps its because we live in a society where you don't know who's a total psycho or not. Maybe we're too busy to even notice potential friends. But when thinking about thy type of mom (or anyone for that matter), I would like to friend. I think about my virtual mommies, who are probably some of the best ladies I know, and I do consider some of my closest friends. Who else would I complain about how the daycare fed the kids corn all week and now I'm up to my elbows in poopy diapers or celebrate with when my child successfully put herself to sleep for her nap?
In real life though, it's more complicated. We were buying Reagan lots of big girl panties at Target the other day. She hasn't had an accident in a week and is COMPLETELY done with pullups! It's weird just having one child in diapers. A mom stopped me with plastic pants and wanted to know if I had tried them. After explaining the clean up process (they can't be dried, they're just plastic on the inside, cotton on the outside-- ICK), I told her we just did, big girl panties with a pullup over it. It did the same thing, but easier clean up. She laughed at my description of my laziness and dealing with messes, if anything, I'm just a lay it all out there kinda girl, and agreed messes weren't her thing either. She was going to try my panty + pullup method. I liked her a lot. First and foremost, she talked to me out of nowhere, and she really wanted to listen. But that was that. A lot like my kids' meetings with "friends." However, Target mom, you're a mommy I could totally be friends with.
I had all three littles at the library and the park last week, and we met a sweet couple with their grandkids. We made the same rounds. The park and the library are next door, and I guess it was a good idea to combine both into the same morning. The grandmother was really sweet and talked to me a really long time about fun things to do, about the girls, and about her granddaughters. I love grandmothers. They don't usually have a smartphone in their hands, they genuinely want to engage with actual people. I've learned to put my phone away more and enjoy the moment. I do love catching a snapshot of our day and my camera on my phone is the easiest way to do it, but I only have two hands, and I have two small girls who seem to run in different directions. ALL of me is needed to keep up with them. Being unplugged is liberating. We have more fun when I'm not scrolling Facebook and Instagram. Not saying I don't do it, but I make the effort when we are out together or the girls are awake and playing, to put the phone down. Sweet grandmother at the park, thanks for the reminder you didn't even know you were giving me.
I've watched other moms. The ones with perfect hair and manicured nails dropping their kids off at daycare. The ones at gymnastics that cheer their kid on like they're an Olympian. The ones that drive the carpool to the soccer games. The ones at restaurants with the beautiful toddlers completely smocked out perfectly eating in the highchair. I'm not sure I could be friends with them. I'm certainly not on their level. There are days when I want to scream. Nothing goes right. I can't compete with the supermoms. I'm a mom living in chaos. I don't pretend it's all unicorns and rainbows. It's fingerpaint on the walls and cheerios all over the floor. If you don't know what I'm talking about, this is exactly what I'm talking about.
In a town where I didn't grow up, where I moved and worked two counties away, it was easy to not branch out of my shell. But once I did "settle" in, I somehow had two babies and now it feels downright impossible. I'm thankful for wonderful neighbors, great coworkers, and my peeps from college and home that I call my friends, but a little jealous that my toddlers have it all figured out. They can make friends anywhere!