Every time I read another study about how parenting decreases the quality of one's life (in the immediate sense), I nod in agreement. Parenting two young children (28 months apart) while also undertaking the most intense time in my career--most likely ever--was a recipe for pushing me to the edge of my capacity. (Of course there were way worse things that also could have happened---Universe, I am not tempting you to pile on more.)
There were (and still are) some days when I feel like I'm just pushing through until bedtime.
But I am seeing glimpses of the light. Now that Tate is past two, the tide is shifting. The boys play better together and there are more moments when I can sit and do my own thing while independent activity happens.
While I most certainly take advantage of those moments, I also find myself wanting to do more fun things with them as a family. Two weekends ago, for example, Matt was out of town. The boys and I spent Saturday morning at the house. They played while I cleaned. It was glorious. That afternoon, I decided we needed to get out of the house. We were going to go to the Bullock Texas State History Museum, but at the last minute I decided to take the boys to a free history museum on the UT campus instead. As we were driving toward the free museum at UT, Henry asked if we could stop at the college bookstore and get him and college t-shirt. It's a tradition in our family to visit colleges when we're traveling and pick up a t-shirt souvenir, so it made sense to get one from our hometown college.
Once that decision was made, it made sense to go to a different free museum on campus. We found a parking spot and headed in. We happened upon a wishing pond, which was something Henry had been asking for, as well. Each boy got a penny and made a wish. We then made our way through the campus, heading toward the bell tower and basking in its beautiful music every 15 minutes.
After seeing the first photograph in the world, we made our way to a busy street to find a campus bookstore. We got Tate a "Born a Horn" t-shirt, since he's the only one in our family actually born in Austin.
We hit the street again, looking for a place to eat. It was such a fun adventure not knowing where we were going to end up and people-watching along the way.
After dinner, we picked up ice-cream sandwiches and strolled back through campus. It was the perfect way to fill all the space between nap time and bed time. It was interesting, engaging, unexpected, fun, and memory-making.
The experience made me realize that I need more adventure in my life. That night, I re-watched the video that Matt made for our wedding. It reminded me that our life used to be full of adventure. People always say you don't need to lose yourself when you have children, but it's pretty darn hard to figure out how to parent well and take care of yourself.
So this past weekend, we planned a family adventure. I stayed up late on Friday night scouring all the nearby Texas Hill Country towns trying to find something interesting to do. We ended up heading to Longhorn Cavern State Park. On the way, we stopped at a small-town cafe for breakfast tacos and a blended, frozen chai drink. We tried to go to a small farmers' market hosted by a little Montessori farm school, but it was closed for the season. The caverns themselves were a phenomenal experience, both visually and historically.
The whole experience inspired Matt and me to undertake a major project together. After we got home, we got started on the project and made major headway in one night. I'll be announcing more details soon!
It was a reminder that planning adventures is the helium to my balloon. I am so inspired when I'm making plans to go somewhere different and try something new. And I love that planning adventures with my boys makes my life better. Adventures are more fun with them. Seeing the world through their eyes and teaching them things along the way--things about history, things about the natural world, and things about how to be a better person--make me grow as a person.
Thank you, Parenthood, I think I could get used to this!