After that I couldn't really sleep. So I pulled myself out of bed and started my day with the kids. I made breakfast, surface-cleaned some of the house, outlined our meals for the week (thanks, Pinterest!), and then went on a five mile run, all before 10:00 a.m.!
All week long, the radio stations had been forecasting an 80 degree day, very rare for an early May in the Pacific Northwest. We decided to take advantage of the sun with our first inaugural zoo trip of the year. We have been members since Jacob was born and it was one of the best decisions we have made as far as family weekend entertainment goes. When I was a kid, zoo trips were so rare. My kids are lucky enough to go to the zoo at least once a month during spring and summer.
There are so many things to do at the zoo that, many times, we don't even bother to see any animals. Today was one of those days. Aside from touching the stingrays in the new stingray exhibit, we didn't see a single animal. And it didn't matter. Because today was absolutely perfect.
Our first stop was Stingray Cove to touch the stingrays. Jacob wouldn't touch them on his own and made me hold his hand so we could both touch them together. Ryan was more brave and dove right in for the stingrays.
When we had our fill of stingrays, we bought some overpriced popsicles and enjoyed the sun. Watching Ryan eat his popsicle wa hilarious. First he held it the wrong way.
Then he grabbed the sides with two hands.
When his hands became cold, he dramatically flung the popsicle down. Only to forget that it was cold and attempt to eat it once again.
Finally got it right
As one by one the children left to meet back up with their families, Jacob would call out after them, "Bye, come back soon! See you next time!" Gah, I love that kid.
Nap time on mommy
Me in my pasty-white glory (aka my Seattle tan)
Next we played in the fountain park. Learning from past experienced, I had come prepared with swim diapers and swimsuits. Both kids loved the fountain park. Jacob made more new friends and Ryan garnered a large set of adoring fans. Ryan was the only baby in the fountain park and the other parents got a kick out of watching him keep up with the big kids as he scooted around on one knee.
Ok mom, I'm going to get wet now. Bye!
Ryan chased fountains all over the park. He wold reach a fountain just in time for it to stop shooting then he would hold his hand out in a desperate attempt to "catch" the stream of water. Eventually another fountain would catch his attention and he would be off to try that one. The water was fa-reezing! Somehow, neither of the kids minded.
At the zoo park, I was shocked at the germophobia of all the parents around me. All I heard was "don't touch that!" and "don't drink the water, it's not filtered," and "you're getting your hands wet," and "come get some sanitizer." Seriously parents! Chill! It's a PARK! The only thing parents are supposed to do (aside from play) is prevent kids from breaking their arms or the arms of other kids. I will never get why some people insist on living in a sterile environment. Makes no sense at all. Life is messy! And what's so wrong with dirt? It's just little pieces of the earth.
After a while, I dried Ryan off with his big brother's shirt and let Jacob air-dry on the playground. Jacob buzzed around all over the big toys while I walked Ryan around. I say this about every age of babyhood but...I absolutely love the phase where toddlers will grasp your finger as they walk awkwardly all over the earth. As I walked with my toddling baby across the zoo, I felt that my heart was going to burst with happiness. I love holding this guy's hand. If it meant holding his hand and being right there for his every step, I would wish for him to never walk on his own.
Like his big brother, Ryan is quite an expert on the big toys. He may not be able to walk but he can climb up and go down the toddler slide all by himself. He will sit on the top of the slide and swing his big head forward until gravity kicks him and pulls him down.
He was a big fan of this hippo as well
We finally had enough of the zoo (or at least I had enough of watching Ryan go down the slide repeatedly) and we trekked the one mile back to the car. The zoo was packed when we arrived so we had to park very far away. I survived the day only thanks to this amazing thing:
My double jogger makes me life so easy. I love this thing!
Our trip home was just as eventful as the zoo trip itself. Even though I made him pee before we left, five minutes into our car ride Jacob told me that he had to pee. He made a pained face, danced in his booster seat and gripped painfully at his crotch. I figured he wasn't bluffing. As we stopped at an intersection, surrounded by cars on every side, I handed him an empty water bottle and let him pee in it. Sadly, this is not that rare of an event for us.
I got my payback later in the trip. When Jacob complained of being thirsty on our way home, I handed him a new water bottle. One swig in, I gasped and told him he was drinking the pee. Oh man, I'm such a bad mommy. But his face was priceless.
When I stopped at the mall to run a quick errand, Jacob did his pee dance again. I walked him to the bathroom only to discover that they had moved the restrooms! Since I had no other option but to walk halfway across the mall again, I rushed Jacob out the nearest exit and pointed him to a semi-concealed bush. A security guard was standing just five feet away but luckily did not notice a thing.
PHEW. Our trips are never dull!
Amazing days like today tempt me into thinking that, if only I didn't have to work, every day could be this awesome. But even as those thoughts enter my mind, I immediately recognize that I know better. I already know from my maternity days that if I were a stay-at-home mom, I would miss using my lawyer brain. I would miss the other type of satisfication in my life, the kind that only comes from a challenging and rewarding career. As much as I love being with my kids all day and as much as I love playing "stay-at-home mom," I know that it just isn't for me. There are two parts of me that need to feel fulfilled. Staying at home would only fulfill one of them. I would have the same problem if I chose to only focus on my career without starting a family.
I know being a mother is a selfless and constant role. It never ends. You can never parent "enough." There will always be needs to meet and duties to fulfill in one's role as a parent. Sometimes I feel conflicted in my desire to do something outside the home and my desire to give everything selflessly to my children. I know I haven't solved this conflict yet and I don't even know if there is an answer. All I know is that my kids are happy and healthy and loved. They are not lacking in anything. And I am also happy and healthy and loved on top of feeling challenged and full. Sure, there is a lot of stress and frustration and worry in the mix as well. But at the end of the day, that is just minor collateral damage.
I honestly feel a deep satisfaction in my role as a working mommy. In this, I have come a long way. My blog posts from when Jacob was a baby are dripping in anxiety and mommy guilt. I sure haven't found a "balance," since then but I have learned from my own experience that my kids are not lacking in love and care simply because I have a career. In fact, I'm pretty sure that all value our time together even more because of it.