The best time to go to the zoo is in the last couple of hours that it is open. You miss the giant crowds and if it’s summer, it’s usually cooler at that time of day. Plus, there are no lines at the beer and popcorn carts. Bryan and I get a beer, lila gets kettle corn, everyone’s happy!
The zoo is one of the best places to take your kids if your looking to get out of the house and let your child explore, especially if it’s the middle of January and everyone has cabin fever. On this particular day, we decided to walk on the north side of the zoo to see the new baby gorilla. Lila’s absolute favorite zoo baby is Doby the giraffe, now about a year old, but we were able to convince her to see another zoo baby just to change the usual route up a bit.
In between exhibits, there are statues of different animals that the kids can crawl all over. The Hippo was the most popular: kids of all ages were swarming it. Bryan and I tried to walk by it quickly to avoid the chaos, but nope! Lila wanted to join in and test her climbing skills.
Side note – I’m sure every mom/caregiver can relate to this, if there are big kids playing on a playground and your toddler wants to get just a little bit closer.. There’s a little bit of anxiety, actually a lot of anxiety that creeps up! The big kids just don’t know what’s around them sometimes, especially a small toddler that’s trying to go down a slide. Anyways, Lila wanted to climb the hippo like the big kids. This shiny, slippery, metal hippo was huge. All of the anxiety bells were going off as I asked Bryan to stand next to her just in case she fell.
She started to climb and you could see the wheels in her head turning as she planned her next steps up the giant bronze ball. The size of the hippo must have gotten to Lila a bit. She reached up to grab the metal ear, shaking with nervousness she immediately came right back down. “Daddy, I can’t do it. I’m scared.”
Bryan and I have been on the same page with trying to help Lila to realize her full potential. Fear and worry do nothing except create more fear and worry. And you know what?! In most cases when something is “too scary” to defeat/conquer/overcome, it’s all in our heads. In unison, like it was planned, Bryan and I both told her, “Yes, you can.” Bryan talked her through a route to the top and I offered little encouragements from the sidelines. We both knew that she could do it. She still seemed nervous even after using daddy’s brilliant mapping skills and demanded that she hold his hand as she climbed to the top.
Sitting there wide eyed and with smile on her face, she screamed, “I did it!” She did it. She needed a hand to get back down the hippo, but the moment her feet touched the wood chips at the bottom, she said, “Again daddy!” She climbed that hippo over and over and over again. Each time with less help from her daddy.
The sun was starting to set so we had to tell her the words every toddler loves to hear (eyeroll), “We have to go, sweetie.” We were met with protest, but once we all agreed that she could climb the hippo one last time, that was it. The final time, all by herself. She did it.
We all have those times in our lives when we look back and say, “That was a defining moment.” Moments like learning how to ride a bike without training wheels, a first job, traveling to another country, getting married, etc. For now, I hope that climbing that hippo was one of those growth and defining moments for Lila. She was nervous, but she overcame and grew from it so that she could take on the next adventure or obstacle that life throws at her with a little more pizzazz and confidence than she had before. Whether she knows it or not, she can do anything. It takes moments like that to build us into who we are.
When Lila was born early in the morning on November 14, 2014, that was one of those moments for me. Not only was the whole process of childbirth something I’ll never forget, but becoming a mom was more specifically one of those moments.
I was only 23 at the time and felt completely unprepared to be a mom. I mean, let’s be real, what first-time parent ever feels like they are actually ready to be a parent? I always joke that my sister was the babysitter growing up and I was the pet sitter. Becoming a mom was something I knew I wanted, but I always thought it would happen later in life and I definitely thought that my sister would have children way before I did. Turns out though, life had different plans and gave me precious Lila ahead of schedule. The moment that she was placed in my arms, an overwhelming feeling of love washed over me. This baby, my little Lila, was so incredibly loved and I knew I would do anything for her. Although Lila was an unplanned treasure, that little girl has changed both my husband, Bryan, and I in ways we never knew possible and she has taught me how to see beauty in the little things again.
Fast forward four years later, I know every word to Moana’s “You’re Welcome” and Frozen’s “Let it Go” since I have the Disney playlist on repeat every day in the car, in the house, it doesn’t matter where, it’s always on. My living room has been transformed into an obstacle course and my car smells like granola bars. Oh and I’ve definitely caught puke with my hands before – someone needed to save the couch! TMI. My evenings and weekends are full of swim, dance, and soon to be soccer classes. Also, who knew that you could argue with a toddler about getting dressed before leaving the house for two years straight?? And finally, we celebrated Lila’s first official “friends” birthday party which was both successful and complete chaos all at the same time, but watching Lila run around that play land with her friends with nothing but smiles made it so worth it.
My life looks a little different than it used to, and I’m sure it will look entirely different even a year from now, but there is no way I would trade it for anything. As a parent, I have been given a blessing and responsibility to raise Lila to be a strong, confident, independent, compassionate and brave woman. I don’t have the handbook and, like every parent, we are all winging it really! Haha! I can promise though, this journey of mine as a parent will not be perfect, but I will always be giving it my best shot. With the support of my husband and my “tribe”, this parenting journey will be (and already is) one of the best rollercoasters this life has thrown me on. What a wild and beautiful ride it has been so far.
As I mentioned in my first blog post ever, I’ve decided to make this blog about several things. I am passionate about many things in my life and want to express my thoughts through this platform. Parenting and the #momlife are a couple of those things. Parenting and being a mom can be hard, but is oh so rewarding and fulfilling. With that being said, I want this blog to be about authenticity. Authentically parenting through the ups and downs that life brings. Authentic #momlife.
Examples of topics for this blog:- Lessons learned- Lila’s current favorites- Weekly day off with Lila – Lila and Mommy Day!- Kids need more adventures (never stop exploring)- And so much more!!!
As an adult we all feel the pressure from the “path” of how society says we need to go about our lives: grow up, go to college, get a career, get married, buy a house, raise a kid or two, work hard, retire, pass on. I’ve never been a big fan of tradition or living up to the status quo. Mostly because throughout that process it’s easy to just start going through the motions and lose sight of what makes this world beautiful in the first place. How to truly stop and enjoy a rose or how to find joy in running through the sprinklers. Children help us to see those moments. Lila has done that for me and life just keeps getting sweeter.
If you lose sight of the moments in between each milestone, you’ll miss the journey. The beauty is in the journey and the people you meet along the way. This crazy beautiful life of mine has been far from society’s “path”. Sure, it’s been hard and scary at times, but it has been an absolutely beautiful ride and has blessed me in ways I could never have imagined.
. . . . .
Hold my hand, my baby,Let me show you the way,To live and to love, To work and to play,To dream and imagine, To chill and to grow;I’ll be with you, my babyAnd let us go explore.Let us read epic storiesAnd then live a few more.Let us spend time with familyAs well as with each other. I couldn’t be more proudTo say that I am your mother. So hold my hand, my baby. And thanks for making me your mum.You are my universe;My earth, moon and sun.
Poem by Ms. Moem