Today, I was just mom. And just Annie. Not housekeeper, not accountant. Not social media influencer. Not blogger. I was myself and I was their mom. Today, was all about my family and my happiness.
It wasn’t perfect. The phone was on – to capture the memories in my digital scrapbook (Instagram) and share my happiness with my friends (Facebook). But only briefly. Today was about making memories as a family. I’m sitting here in a quiet and terribly messy house. My soul is content. And dare I say it? I am not stressed out.
I slept in. When I finally woke up, the children were already playing on their games. I
brewed some coffee turned on the Keurig, and made the family a brunch of scrambled eggs and toast.
“Let’s go out to the Discovery Center!” I announced. Just like that. Let’s throw away any plans I had (ok, I had no plans) and make this a spur of the moment family day. My oldest, Lizzie, immediately rejoiced! She visited there before with her best friend and could not wait to return. David (5 years old) whined and complained. He’d have to leave his Nintendo – oh the humanity! Lucy smiled and went to look for her shoes.
Then, it was the “let’s hurry up and get out the door” chaos and anarchy.
Where are your shoes?!?! Get them on NOW! Yes, you can wear that dress (which ended up being completely filthy, but I didn’t take the time to look). David, enough with the crying, get on your shoes. Lucy, where did all your (million pairs of) shoes go? Yes, Lizzie, I know you are excited, but you have to brush your
rat’s nesthair. Where is my purse? Ugh, I need another cup of coffee. David – seriously – get on your shoes! Ok, I’m just going to pile you all in the car and we’ll figure it out when we get there! Josh, can you pick David up and carry him out?
We finally get in the car. Somehow, seatbelts are on. Then, we begin the 45 minute drive. And the horror of allowing David and Lizzie to sit next to each other becomes apparent. Threats of turning around are made every 20 miles. I screamed at her at one point. At another I began to wonder if this was a good idea at all. Forget having a conversation with Josh.
Finally we arrived! As soon as we walked in, Lizzie ran to her favorite station and David and Lucy just walked around, eyes as big as dinner plates. The Discovery Center is not a place you can come once and leave. You explore new things every time you visit. It is an educational play utopia. Giant magnetic boards, a blacklight-glowing room full of letters and shapes and numbers, professional play areas (like doctor, mechanic and veterinarian). Blocks, trains, dress up, painting, stamping, art science reading, math – everything is here!
In the three hours we were there, I played with my children and watched their imaginations open up. I played drums with Lucy, watched as David schooled me in how to make a ball roll down some tubes (he’s a way better engineer than me), played with the glowing shapes and letters with Lizzie.
And then, I had a lot of peaceful time to myself too. My children are old enough, that they don’t need me hovering. In fact, at times, they preferred to play by themselves. I watched as Lizzie picked up a magnifying glass and inspected fossils and Lucy served plastic food to a young dad and his daughter.
Lucy is 3 years old, and still enjoys playing with me most. We created stamped artwork together. And she was a little Picasso in the painting room. We mixed colors together, amazed at their changing shades with each addition.
The center closed at 5pm, so we had to leave. I suggested we continue our adventure at Chuck E. Cheese. Everyone cheered! I smiled. I’ve never suggested this place, but I wanted to continue having fun together. I didn’t want the fun to end. (I also didn’t want to go home to my messy kitchen and make dinner and clean.)
Coins, pizza and drinks ordered, the children scattered. We chose the seat that gave us the perfect view of the entire play area. Josh and I could finally talk. We had fun, light-hearted chit chat about stuff that didn’t matter. It was amazing! Old movies, laughing at the day with the kids, our impression of the center. Every few minutes another child would run to us and drop off a handful of tickets and grab a few more tokens. Then, the pizza came. I played games with David, Josh played with the girls. It was perfection. Until it was time to pick out the prizes at the end.
Cue: whining and maternal irritation
Ok kids, we have 150 tickets. That’s 50 for each of you. Pick only from the yellow, red or blue boxes. No, that is a green box and worth 75 tickets. No, you can’t have that because then your sisters can’t have something fun. Yes Lucy, you can have the fake teeth (ewww gross). I’ll get them for you when David chooses. Ok Lizzie, you can have a pair too. David, please choose something. NOT that, it is 75 tickets! Get off the floor and stop crying. *sigh* Ok, we’ll just leave without you getting anything. Look, snakes are 25 tickets, you can have two of them. Finally!
Drama over. Time for bathroom breaks and hit the road! Cue more fighting between David and Lizzie over the coveted middle seat. One time-out later and we are finally on our way home.
We didn’t drive 15 miles before all three of them were completely silent, the younger two nodding off. Josh was fading quickly too. I relaxed and turned on the radio to my station. Me, my happy family, the road, my music.
I learned something new about myself. I learned I cannot stand chaos or whining (ok, I already knew that). I actually learned that I am a quality time kind of mom. I revel in the times I make for my family, I relish them. I savor them. I am not a quantity time-mom. I can’t do this kind of day all the time. In fact, I can’t be a stay-at-home mom. I need to be able to think. I need to be Annie.
And I learned about my children too, things I’ve known but they came alive today. Lucy loves getting lost in her imaginative world. Lizzie doesn’t care a lick about what people think of her (or her dirty clothes) and prefers to play alone. David is a very active and happy boy. He adores his daddy.
I adore all of them.