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It's a Date! (with my baby)

It's a Date! (with my baby)

This past week I tried something new as a mother—scheduling dates with my toddler. This may seem silly or redundant since we’re together so often, and quite literally attached. She’s wrapped around my legs in the restroom; she’s pulling out the dishes I just stuck in the dishwasher. Her fingers splay across my cheek while we sleep beside each other. We’re the epitome of attachment parenting.

But, here’s the catch: she’s attached to me, and therefore to my adult existence. My daily routine consists of bills and writing and scraping up the messes left by this tiny human and her furry siblings—and she is glued to this daily ride. But it’s my ride, my to-do list. What about her day? Sure, her basic needs are met—I mean, we even have two lunches now!—but childhood isn’t simply built on bare sustenance and survival. It’s supposed to be built on magic and discovery and the pure awe that only exists during this fleeting stage of life.

That’s why I started scheduling us dates. The goal is one date for each day that I’m home—that’s a minimum of four dates per week. This last week we successfully had three. There was the park, where we marveled at fuzzy ducklings, squealed on the swing, and smeared dirt and sawdust all over ourselves and the metal slide. She giggled until she could barely breathe. The second date was a local indoor playground. I cheered when she slid down the plastic slide without my help. She befriended other minis. Our third date happened without ever leaving the house. We played with buckets of blocks and wooden puzzles and read her favorite stories without hesitation. And I ignored the dishes, the litterbox, the paragraphs I wanted (needed) to write. This was her time. Her childhood.

Baby dates don’t need to be extravagant events, they just have to be focused on the child. This means dedicating an hour or two to something that they will enjoy, like the simple act of playing with toys. Sometimes it’s easier to go elsewhere, to get out of the home and office to truly separate from adult responsibilities. Parks are a perfect setting for a baby date--no computer or vacuum cleaners there! During these dates, put away that phone. Because they are baby dates. They aren't simply a new interpretation of distractions for efficiently completing an adult’s to-do list; you know what I mean—the colorful pile of toys that you hope will occupy your child so you can get just a few more tasks accomplished. Those aren't baby dates.

It’s a relief to push away adult anxiety and relish life through the eyes of a small child—and not just for her. Here’s a secret: parents benefit from these dates, too. Everyone thrives off play and laughter and a brief abandonment of the mundane. After our dates, I come back to adult life with a vigor I’d stifled with stress. I’m more creative, energized, and thankful for what I have. And, my daughter? She’s smiling, relaxed, and more likely to let me distract her so I can get stuff done.

Take that little one’s childhood off the back burner. Replace it with all that other adult stuff that can wait for an hour or two.

Motherhood - The Toughest Job You'll Ever LOVE

Motherhood - The Toughest Job You'll Ever LOVE

Motherhood –The Toughest Job You’ll Ever LOVE

I remember it like it was yesterday.  I had this sweet, little, blonde-haired, blue-eyed treasure.  I had just put her down to bed and I promptly called my mom. 

“Mom??? “  I cried into the phone, “Help me!!!  I don’t know what to do with this little one.”  She politely laughed and said, “Don’t worry, babe.  She will be fine and so will you.”  Wise words from a very wise woman.

Now, believe me.  I didn’t always think my mom was wise.  When I was a teenager, I was completely sure that she was not wise at all.  HA!  Little did I know, but my mom actually did know it all. And I didn't.  

Motherhood is like that.  It’s the job that once you have it figured out, the little one changes and now you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing at all.  Can anyone relate?

Well, in my 20 some years as a mom, I have figured out a few things.

  1. They don’t come with a manual

They don’t!  It’s the most "On the job" training job I’ve ever done.  But, somehow you figure it out and it all does get better.  I didn’t say it gets easier, but definitely better.

  1. Memorize this Phrase: This too Shall Pass

I remember going to a MOPS group (Mothers of Preschoolers).  My oldest daughter was very young and I was trying hard to figure out this motherhood thing.  I remember thinking, “Gosh, something is definitely wrong with my girl.”  She didn’t want to nap and she was only just 2.  When she was 3, she had strong opinions and an equally strong will. I thought something was either wrong with her or me.  I just wasn’t sure which.

And, then, as I went to MOPS and talked with other moms, I realized...she’s normal.  You mean, all little kids do these things? Yep!  Most do.  It was a huge ephiphany for me.  It was then that a wise friend at MOPS told me, “This too shall pass.”  And, you know what?  She was right.  That little stubborn 3 year old girl is now 21 and almost finished with college.  And she turned out pretty well.  

  1. Give yourself Room to Grow

Refer to 1.  We, as new parents or even seasoned parents, simply don't know what we are doing most of the time.  I often told our oldest daughter, “I’m sorry.  I’ve never been a parent before you, so I am figuring it out too.”  Give yourself room to make mistakes.  Understand that you don’t have to be a perfect parent, just be a parent.  The rest will come along the way.  And – don’t be afraid to make mistakes.  We all do and we learn from them. 

Oh – super important.  Be willing to say I’m sorry.  These two small, powerful words will speak volumes to your child about how much you love and treasure them.  Use them often.


And some food for thought: 

Mother is the name for

God in the lips and hearts of little children. –

By William Makepeace Thackeray


Happy Mother’s Day!!!