Yesterday, I took my daughter to the American Museum of Natural History. We had a blast. She enjoyed all of the animal exhibits and was in awe of the huge whale that hangs from the ceiling. We spent a long time looking at all of the different gems and precious stones. We stopped in the Discovery Room for some hands-on exploration. All in all a great day! As we were sitting on a bench deciding where to go next, I heard the couple with a toddler next to me. They looked annoyed and their little one was pretending to be an airplane flying around with his arms stretched wide. “I told you he’s too young for this. What a waste of time and money.” The husband explained that he thought it would be nice to expose him to the museum anyway, to start the appreciation at a young age and share with him things they liked to do before he was born. When his wife didn’t agree, he told her that at least they should enjoy all the exhibits like they used to. As the couple continued to bicker, my little one and I headed to hunt down the Easter Island head.
When I was pregnant, I panicked about how much my life was going to change. I thought about the things I did, whether routine or special event, and thought I would be kissing those moments good bye. Then one day, I had lunch with an old friend who was, at the time, a mom to a 2 year old. She told me something that I really took to heart. She told me that, yes, life would be extraordinarily different. However, you’re still you. As much as you need to adjust your life to make room for this incredible new individual, you need to keep normalcy by doing what you’ve always done. She continued to travel and see the world, but the only difference was that she got to share it with her daughter.
I took my daughter to her first movie (Rock of Ages) when she was 2 months old (AMC’s Bring Your Baby Matinee showings were awesome!). I was exploring the city’s art exhibits with her strapped to me when she was 3 months old. Even as she graduated from infant-hood, people would wonder why my toddler would have an interest in going to museums and art shows. Don’t you think she’s too young for that? She won’t even remember you went there. I’ve heard it all. All the judgements of how I choose to raise my daughter and the experiences I’ve decided to share and expose her to. So maybe she won’t remember all of the things we’ve done together so far. But I will. I will always remember each of those special outings. I will show her pictures and tell her all about them. By taking her with me to things I like to do, I’m sharing who I am with her. I’m showing her just who mom is besides the person who makes her meals and kisses boo boos away. It’s also my hope she will start an appreciation of new things and learning at a young age. While my husband was never really comfortable even taking her to nice restaurants, I always dined where I wanted with child in tow. And you know what? She’s always well behaved in restaurants. Now maybe part of it is her personality and demeanor, but I would like to also think it’s because she’s used to having to sit at a restaurant since she was a baby.
I never thanked my friend for our conversation that day over 4 years ago. However, her words have stuck with me and I’ve followed it ever since. As a result, my daughter and I have experienced so many things together. When she was a baby, I still got to enjoy things I did before I was a mom, only adjusting those things to make it work in my new role. Now that she’s older, she’s absorbing all of the things I expose her to. I love that she’s asking questions and discovering a love to explore. Yes, she’s a kid. Yes, there are times when we just run around the playground or play with dolls on the playroom floor. Those moments are just as special and filled with exploration. Yes, she’s a kid, who like most other kids, are filled with questions and a desire to know everything. So why not give her experiences to spark even more learning. And if she doesn’t remember all the details of the things we’ve done, I know she will remember one thing. That she experienced, explored and learned life with mommy.
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