For the first thirty years of my life, I was what most people would call a hermit. I wasn’t at a clinical level of weird, but I enjoyed the trappings of home, the ease of the pajama pant, the lack of pressure to entertain, be fun, speak. I was lazy and comfortable, and that was just fine, thank you very much.
And then I had a kid. I’m still lazy and pretty much live in my PJ pants, but when I’m facing a few hours with my toddler, my first instinct is to take the diaper bag and run.
In my opinion, babies are boring. I can only play with them for a little bit before I start going insane. They’re very cute and they talk a bit, but you can’t joke about the blatant branding on Top Chef or cry with them about the crazy thing that one politician said about whatever. I feel that big time with other people’s kids, and while I have a bit more stamina with my own, it doesn’t last for very long. I bow before the stay-at-home parents, the working parents who wish they could be home, and the day care teachers out there. I can’t do it for more than an hour or so, and my eye is on the clock most of that time. There are only so many times I can read Blueberries for Sal before I start rooting for that mama bear to eat poor, stupid little Sal.
I did find a way to stay inside and not go crazy. With a toddler (who is in a safe space), cooking, cleaning, doing dishes, building a deck—anything that keeps you busy—works well. As long as I’m within earshot and can reach a scream in seconds, I don’t feel guilty.
It’s the sitting that gets you. If you’re on the couch, kids assume you’re there for their entertainment. Every piece of you is meant for them. While that’s understandable, it doesn’t partner well with those lovely hermit cave weekends of days gone by. Reading a book? Toddler must chew on the book—especially if it’s from the library. Working on your laptop? Toddler must type and swipe. Watching a movie? Hahahahahaha. That’s a good one.
But if you’re up and moving, there’s an out of sight/out of mind thing that happens. Plus, the kid gets to play alone—something that’s really important to me and my hubs. And another bonus: you get a lot done around the house.
Unfortunately, you can only do so much around the house before that also gets really boring/annoying/back-breaking, so I started poking my little hermit head out into the universe. I am now a frequent flyer at farmer’s markets, festivals, library events… If it’s got the word ‘kid’ in it, I’m there. I have attended story times where a teenager read to my kid in an empty ice cream shop, and I was not sorry. I’ve gone to Hot Chicken Festivals solely for the fire trucks and free watermelon. I’ve braved crowded, sweaty streets for drum lines and tomato art. I’ve called up other parents and actually ENJOYED myself, watching my son play with other kids at Opry Mills, Bagel Face Bakery, and Pied Piper Eatery (all of those have really good kid distractors) while gushing/commiserating about my adorable, precious little bore.
Ok, so if I’m being honest, it’s not all about escaping the mind-numbing, stick-this-tiny-hot-wheels-car-in-my-eye boredom. My entry into this brave not-so-new world is about letting my son explore the world, meet people, see interesting stuff, and find new things to make himself laugh. And you know what? I’m enjoying the seeing and the doing too. I’m liking the new friends and the world outside of my cave. And while I do enjoy spending time with my little dude, I enjoy it a whole lot more when we’re both occupied. I do miss the marathon TV and the cozy, dark, quiet, but it’s nice to crawl out of my shell. The world out there? It’s not so bad, after all.