sorry for the silence, dear readers.
i'll try to summarize a few thoughts i had wanted to put into longer posts earlier in the month but never managed to do so.
there's been a lot of chatter recently in the blogosphere and print media about children in adult spaces. by this, i don't mean "adult only" spaces, i mean in spaces adults would prefer children not spend time: like restaurants.
in a series of recent articles in the Washington Post's On Parenting section, such a discussion transpired. see
here and here for all of the details.
the long and short of it is that recently a Pennsylvania restaurant openly and proudly banned children under age 6 and saw a sizeable increase in its clientele. Thus, banning kids = good business. So, lots of folks in the blogosphere (Babble, for one) began chatting about it, asking if it is right to admit that we as adults would prefer to not have kids eating at the table next to us when we're out, spending some sizeable coin on a meal, and wanting to unwind?
turns out the majority - at least who responded to some of these inquiries - said, well, yes. adults have the right to say no to kiddos in their restaurants (or vacation spots or other places of presumed peaceful pleasure).
i've read commentary by parents themselves saying that it's best for everyone if we parents would just keep the kiddos at home before age 6 or 8 or 12 - pick an age that someone believes they will suddenly be civilized enough to join our society.
by now it should be clear what i think of this.
i am a late bloomer to mommyhood. i have enjoyed many years of dining and vacationing at spots around the world where children were NOT banned and i don't recall at any time being so overwraught by it all that i decided that it was either me or them. me or the tiny child next to me enjoying his spaghetti or chicken fingers from the kiddie menu.
instead, i have been in the United States, Central and South America, Europe, India, and elsewhere where children are actually encouraged to join the communal table - eat dinner alongside their families, at nice restaurants, tapas bars, and local dives, enjoying the community of eating. (see our trip to Spain post about how emma easily joined us and numerous other families at eateries across the country to her and our great joy and benefit).
i have also not traveled anywhere and wished or found that in restaurants men were banned from the premises. or women. or people of a certain race or religion or nationality. i wouldn't dream of thinking or believing that my meal or my vacation would be a better investment of my money or somehow more relaxing if men, or women, or certain nationalities, or religious sects, or races simply didn't co-exist with me.
and, now that i am a mama to one adorable apple cheeks mcgillicutty, i can't fathom coming to the door of a restaurant and having them tell me that my money isn't good there because my little culinary queen is not welcome.
...not that it hasn't happened before by default, mind you. and, now that my husband and i are parents, i can't begin to count the number of bed and breakfasts and nicer hotels where we are no longer welcome because we have a child.
on a recent jaunt to the shore on a whim (see foiled!), we literally had to go door to door to find somewhere to stay because most hotels were full, but many that did have rooms refused us because we had a one-year-old child. i was left a bit stunned by the experience. i mean, i get the want of silence and solace. of wanting quiet moments to reflect on life or rowdy moments to play with my loved-one. yet, i suppose i never thought those experiences and children were necessarily mutually exclusive.
all of that said, i am not an absolutist about any of this. there are times and places for adults to be alone with adults. where kids just don't need to be part of the equation.
but, some of our most treasured times as a family are spent together, enjoying the community of, well, community. to separate our young ones from our daily life - our communal dining table, our moments of play and relaxation, the places we spend our most glorious, carefree moments of familial bonding and bliss seems anathema to me.
my daughter already has so many reasons to feel excluded by society. i never imagined that her being a child alone was one of them. i want her and all other pre-toddlers to grow and learn how to become toddlers, young children, adolescents, and adults by living in our world, not separate from it in some child-only bubble until we, as adults, are comfortable with the degree to which we can control their vibrancy, verbocity, and decible levels.
this may strike you as a tad hypocritical, so stand forewarned....
so, this past week, matt and i escaped for a day sans our little apple cheeks, thanks to the generosity of emma's godmother. we left emma in capable hands. the doggies were taken care of. and, we were off.
for adventure! and fun! and freedom! oh my!
we drove to our predictable destination: the shore. and, we begged our way into a hotel (not worthy of mention, because not unlike our trip to the shore with emma a few weeks ago in my post foiled!, we ended up in a hotel that was clean but beyond that, certainly not worthy of any accolades especially for the amount of coin we spent on it).
then, we trekked to the beach, played in waves for a few hours, ate a yummy meal (this time, my dear hubby had the lobster mac-and-cheese, while i chose the crab cake). we were satiated. tired. went back to the hotel. stared at the ocean. had a beverage. slept.
i'd like to say that we relished our little escape away from little e, the doggies, house duties, regular life. but, that's just it. even though we had not spent a single night together, alone and away from dogs or baby duty since i was pregnant, all we did was miss our regular life.
because, as it turns out, it isn't worthy of escaping.
we're intertwined with little e. she is us and we are her.
we live with her, through her, alongside her, and we find our deepest moments of coupled joy co-parenting her.
of course, we still have many connections between us that are not only apple cheeks-centered. but, we didn't need to "escape" to get closer or feel connected.
i suppose we just needed it to remind us how deeply fulfilling our chaotic, challenging, joyous life as mama, dada, and emma really is.
how each of us are so very enriched individually by our participation in (not separation from) our familial and greater community.