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Mommy And Me Day

One of my favorite places in our big
metroplex here is our local arboretum – it’s really
excellent and a place I can always go to for a great day with my
kids. Every spring and fall they do Mommy and Me days; each Monday
and Tuesday, they have a face painter, a craft table, a story
teller, puppet shows, a petting zoo, and more.

For free.

Well, you pay to get in, but you don’t pay more for all the
extra stuff.

Cora and I have been craving some one-on-one time, so we hit the
arboretum yesterday for the first time this fall. When the girls
were younger, we were there a few times a month; we’d buy a
family membership that would more than pay for itself in the first
month. We’d pack a lunch and the red wagon in the car, then
explore all over the park: through the area set up like a frontier
village, all around the asian gardens and waterfalls, playing chase
through the big pecan grove, rolling down the huge hill towards the
lake – you name it, and we’d do it.

But Maddie’s in school every day
now, and Cora’s schedule’s shrinking too, so as we
stood in line to get her face painted (did I mention it was free?)
I realized this was one of the last times I’d be doing this
with my girlie. Yes, I got a little teary-eyed.

I could see the signs of change already: for one, the red wagon
stayed at home as my big girl was able to walk herself everywhere.
For another, we didn’t have to rush to the car by a certain
time for naps – we did lunch, a fun stroll around, then
hopped in the car for quiet time on the way back. But so much of
what we did was so familiar that there was an easiness to the day
that was all the more precious for being recognized as nearly
obsolete. When you’re in a certain season as a parent –
say, diapers, or sleep-training (still happening here, by the way),
you feel as if that season will never stop, that you’ll be
stuck in it forever. But then you look around and it’s gone,
and you realize those eternal-feeling moments were just months, or
even days.

And that’s how I feel about our Mommy and Me days: at the
time, it simply felt like a way of life. We’d pack up the
wagon and head out there regularly as a way to fill our days, and I
took it for granted – or, at the most, was grateful it
existed as a fantastic, low-cost way to be outside with my kids.
But now I see that season is nearly over, even as I’m just
recognizing it, and I’m not quite ready to let go.

We chose to eat lunch at the new maple trees exhibit, right next to
a running stream. And as we lay back on the blanket and munched
contentedly, cloud-gazing and naming their shapes, Cora commented
on how quickly the clouds were moving past us. “Mommy,
it’s like by the time we recognize them, they’ve
already passed!” she said.

And I knew exactly what she meant.


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