Guest Blogger: Gina Carlisle | Mom Explores Orlando
Most women have an idea of what motherhood will be like long before their baby is born. Many long for the pitter-patter of tiny feet down the hallway. Others dream of the soft skin of their sweet angel as they cuddle. And some, like me, dream of the toddler and adolescent years for the adventure and personality that will surely accompany them. It’s this dream that has instilled a desire within me to pass on the spirit of adventure to another generation. So… we go. And along the way, I’ve learned more about motherhood than I ever thought possible.
The importance of living in the moment
From the very beginning, we took our son, Graham, everywhere. Sometimes we would even load him in the car without any destination in mind and just drive. It wasn’t easy, especially in the beginning. There were so many things to consider with a newborn: Would he be tired? Cold? Would he need a change of clothes? How would I feed him? Would we need the stroller? How long would we be away from home? But at some point we just decided to wing it. And, though it made for some adventures that were more difficult than others, it made me a better mother.
I remember distinctly a beach trip with Graham. We hadn’t planned to do much that evening, just a nice night at home catching up on Mad Men. But we felt like we needed to get out of the house. So we decided to pack up our diaper bag and a couple of sandwiches and head for the coast. The fact that the sun was already low in the sky didn’t matter. Neither did the fact that by the time we got to the beach it was almost dark. As we sat there on the sand, the waves crashing behind us, we were relaxed and amazed at the fact that our newborn was able to go along on this crazy adventure. It’s still one of my favorite memories because it was so simple and spontaneous and just a little bit risky to do with a newborn, and I credit our spontaneity for the fact that our son is such a good traveler one year later.
The value of flexibility
It’s so easy to focus on one task until it’s complete. As a new mother, that was often the only thing getting me by on a day-to-day basis. If I could check an item off my to-do list, I felt like I had accomplished something. As the days have flown by, I’ve realized that sometimes we have to be willing to change our plans for the sake of our kids. Do I have to stop what I’m doing because my son reaches up with his chubby little hands for me to hold him? Of course not, but those are some of the best moments because they give me a moment to breathe.
On a recent trip to Cincinnati, we were walking around the freezing city taking photos so I could use them on my blog. We came to a beautiful park with a playground in a historic part of town and Graham wanted to play. I was freezing and was not at a good stopping point in my search for the perfect photo, but we stopped at the playground to let him get some energy out. He didn’t care that the chains on the swing were freezing, he just smiled the whole time we pushed him. Being flexible and allowing for beautiful distractions has become so important to me since becoming a mother.
The joy of seeing life through a fresh set of eyes
A few months ago, on a trip to Weeki Wachee Springs in southwest Florida, my son fell in love… with a mermaid. Weeki Wachee is an old Florida gem that’s been around since before ol’ Walt ever dreamed of building his famous parks. It’s got a huge amount of charm, largely because of the mermaid show that runs several times a day. The mermaids put on an underwater ballet of sorts and are absolutely captivating. But I had seen it before. One of the best parts of the park is that you get to meet a real, live mermaid after the show. As we set Graham in this young girl’s lap for a photo, he was absolutely smitten. He had never before seen such a creature as this half-human-half-fish, and it didn’t hurt that her tail sparkled in the sun. Experiencing this moment through my son’s wide eyes was such a good reminder of what’s really important in life: to pay attention to the little things that often get glazed over because you might never get the chance to see them again.
So on days when you’re feeling like you want nothing more than to stay home and shut out the world because the kids are losing their minds, I encourage you to just go. Get out and do something, anything. It might be exactly the breath of fresh air that you need, and you just might learn something along the way.
Meet the Author:
Gina is a work-at-home mom who taught high school history until her son came along. A native Floridian, she enjoys sharing about her life, motherhood, and adventures in her hometown on her blog Mom Explores Orlando. When she’s not wrangling a toddler or working on her blog, Gina often dreams up new recipes to try out on her husband and plans vacations she won’t take for years.