“When can we have a Mom and Nathan Day?”
My son’s question—and his big brown pleading eyes—stopped me short as I made breakfast on a Monday morning. It was true that since his little sister was born, almost two years ago, time for just the two of us was in short supply. He attended a five-day-a-week preschool program while Ellie only went two days. He was well-aware of the time she and I spent without him. I felt a little wave of guilt as I remembered how much time Nathan and I used to log together as a twosome. So I decided we could break a rule or two to reclaim some much-needed momma and son bonding time.
“Tomorrow.” I told him. “You can play hooky from school, and we will have a whole day—just the two of us.” His answering grin was all the confirmation I needed that I made the right choice.
After dropping Ellie off at preschool the next morning, the day was ours. I told Nathan we could do whatever he wanted, and he picked the zoo. Although we have a membership and go frequently, usually it’s a race against the clock (and Ellie’s naptime) and fighting through crowds. Not today. Today, we moved at Nathan’s pace. We spent fifteen minutes watching the gibbons jump from tree to tree. Together, we petted two kangaroos in the interactive exhibit and marveled over the softness of their fur. We skipped the lemurs entirely because, as Nathan explained, “their eyes kind of creep me out, Mom.” I even broke my we-don’t-buy-anything-at-the zoo rule and purchased a stuffed red panda I noticed him eyeing in the gift shop
After the zoo, we picked up McDonald’s (his day, his choice) and went to Rockland Park to enjoy a picnic next to Old Hickory Lake. We watched the ducks swim and the boats coming and going from the marina. I explained how to identify the mallard ducks and what the different colored buoys in the water meant to the boats speeding past. He nodded intently as I talked, soaking up knowledge that had nothing to do with worksheets or sight words.
I learned things that day as well. I learned he doesn’t hold my hand much anymore. The instinct is still there—he’ll reach out and hold on for a few seconds. However, he soon breaks free to walk on ahead, a few steps beyond my grasp. He opts for his own stall in the bathroom and washes his hands without my prompting. He smiles easily at others and carefully throws away his trash when he finishes eating.
I love my son with my whole heart. But it was nice to take a day to be reminded just how much I like him too.