My friend and food-of-the-day-for-a-year partner, Emily, has written another great Odd guest post. I heart Emily and I know you will too!
Have baby will travel.
Hi, I’m Emily, a stay-at-home mom to 5 great kids. You can read about life with them HERE.
As a stay-at-home mom, I wear my mom hat 24/7. Sometimes it’s hard to remember as my day revolves around tending to the needs of others, that first and foremost, I am Emily, a woman who lives outside of the parenting world as well.
When I became pregnant with our first child, my Mom asked me, “What are your plans? What is life with baby going to look like?” My response was something along the lines of, “I’m still going to school, I still need to work, I still want to work in my chosen field, I still want to go out to hear music and see my friends, and really, life wasn’t going to change THAT much just because we were having a baby.” (I hear you laughing. I laugh now, too. Ah, the naïveté of youth!) My mom responded, “Have baby, will travel.”
Mom’s simple phrase ran deep – much deeper than I ever imagined. Once our daughter was born, EVERYTHING changed. As the first in our group of friends to have a child, friendships waned. Going out was no longer spontaneous; concerts, dinner or a movie involved a babysitter, and worse, the guilt of leaving my baby after being away from her all day at work and school. Because it was easier, because it was what you “should” do as a good parent, we found ourselves living in a world of Chuck E Cheese, Disney on Ice and G rated music. As time marched on, I donated my never-worn concert shirts and boots, and let myself become defined by my mom role. With the best intentions, I lost part of what made me Emily.
“Aha moments” often arrive at unexpected times, and mine arrived at a 2002 Dora the Explorer live performance. Nathan and I were surrounded by tots high on sugar, and performers low on talent, lip synching the performance. Nathan and I looked at each other and agreed we were living our personal version of hell. I called it: Never again.
After that experience, “Have baby, will travel” became our parenting inspiration and motto. We bring our little beings into our lives, into our world, not the other way around.
There is no reason to settle for kids’ bop, happy meals and poor excuses for entertainment when there is an amazing world out there to explore without the help of Dora. It was time to take our kids by the hand, and rediscover the world.
We began to reignite our forgotten passions and seek out new ones. We tuned in to music we love, turning it on often and loudly. My four-year-old can belt out the Ramones with passion. I could not be more proud.
We cook together, real food, from all over the world, because I like exploring and creating delicious food almost as much as eating it. Our older kids now cook a weekly meal for the family.
We regularly head out to art museums and craft fairs. Art fascinates me and I love introducing the kids to the different ways creativity is expressed. We enjoy lively discussions about our favorite pieces of art and try to find something to appreciate in the pieces that aren’t our favorites. Instead of “Live” or “On Ice” productions, we attend Chicago Children’s theater performances and Broadway in Chicago productions.
At home, we unwind together by reading beloved books aloud, watching movies and playing video games. It seems they are catching my photography bug, and our latest endeavor is karate. I had always wanted to try karate, and when one of my children expressed an interest, I signed us both up to take a class together. Now four children and I are taking karate together weekly. Watch out, we are becoming a ninja family!
Letting go of the media-marketed lifestyle of how we “should” raise our children, has improved the time we spend together as a family one thousand-fold. We now spend our time together in ways that are meaningful to us all.
And then there is grown-up time.
It took me a long time to let go of the guilt of wanting just a few hours to myself, but I discovered that when I make myself a priority, I’m a happier woman, and a better parent.
Time to myself can be as simple as a walk with only my own thoughts as company, enjoying an uninterrupted bath, working out, spending time on Facebook, (yes, of course I Facebook) keeping up with beloved family and friends who inspire me from afar, and spending time with my gal pals who keep me laughing and grounded. Couple-time is important too, and with the help of my bestest babysitter, (my oldest) Nathan and I go out to a concert or dinner often.
I firmly believe that next to the gift of life, the best gift we have to give our children is the gift of ourselves. I am Emily, a woman with children. Not just a mom. When Nate and I pack up our babies, this mom has plenty to say about the direction her family goes.
Thanks mom, for steering me in the right direction.
Have baby will travel, indeed.
Feel free to leave a comment about navigating the parenting path. Odd Loves Company.