I had been looking forward for today for the past couple of weeks for a few reasons. My 6 year old daughter and I had appointments for eye exams in a town about an hour away from my home which meant:
- I would have only one child for a good portion of the day.
- This particular child shares my affinity for jamming to music loudly on road trips.
- I had planned to get Orange Leaf which is one of my favorite places to go especially when the hubby isn’t with me. He’s not the biggest fan of eating gluten free yogurt in bright orange seats. The fun décor in this place alone makes me want to take my kids there!
- The last time I went for an eye exam was almost 2 years ago…yep I’m the girl who wears the daily contacts for a few weeks at a time and I’m ashamed to admit it. This means I have had the same glasses for 2 years, until today. I love wearing my glasses so I was happy to be able to order a new pair.
Here’s where I feel a bit embarrassed and like a mommy that maybe needs to get a grip on my selfishness because as they day went on, I realized my daughter had one reason she was looking forward to our outing and it made her more excited than all of my lame reasons jumbled up together.
She was spending it with me.
My little monkey knew the day wasn’t going to include anything fancy, no new toys (as daddy reminded her last night AND this morning) but she was still thrilled enough to be in my presence that she went to bed early and the next morning woke at 5:30am so she would have time to prepare for the day. I have taken my girls out on dates before and as a matter a fact, my husband and I try to make a habit of this. We like to slow down and spend time getting to know our children individually, even if it’s just taking only 1 to the grocery store. Today was different though, monkey isn’t little anymore, it seems silly to even call her monkey. She’s almost 7 and we had conversations throughout our day that weren’t solely revolving around Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, food and potty breaks. It was absolutely a time to remember and here’s how it went.
5:30am: I attempt to get up early to workout alone, only for my little man to wake up, ( I swear he can sense me!) Monkey soon follows and informs me she is up early so we won’t be late.
6:30 am: Hubby is off for work after I made him biscuits and gravy and hot tea. I assure you this is not our normal routine, although he would love it! I enjoy doing it on the nights when I am able to get some sleep. A few minutes later, kiddo #3 wakes up and Mickey Mouse is on, thank goodness because my son is currently obsessed with the Hot Dog Song. I’m able to spend the next hour bopping around between packing the van, getting myself ready, preparing breakfast for the girls, nursing the baby, picking up around the house and preparing homeschool work for the car ride.
7:45am We are packing into the van. This really takes 15 minutes by the time everyone is buckled and I return into the house numerous times to retrieve all the items I’ve forgotten. I decide against my better judgement to let the dogs have free reign of the house. Not sure if it’s a good choice or not but it breaks my heart to see them go up and down stairs now.
8:02am: We leave, get a block down the road and I realize I’ve forgotten a gift card. Back we go!
8:10am: We leave for real this time.
8:45am: We have dropped my youngest babies off at my mother in law’s for the day. She is always so helpful to me when I need her and I absolutely appreciate the peace of mind I can have when I leave my children with her. Little man is asleep which helps my anxiety of leaving him for the day.
8:46am: Dance party in the van is on. Monkey’s new favorite song is Smashouth’s “All Star” and ACDC “Thunderstruck” which both happen to be on a CD we made for my dad. She is always saying “Let’s listen to Grandpa Jim’s music!” This was a blast; air guitars, dance moves and loud singing for the entire hour drive to our appointment.
9:10-11:00ish: Monkey’s first eye exam. I wasn’t sure how this would go because this child is my timid one, she is usually uncomfortable in situations that are unfamiliar and likes to have reassurance. I watched her follow the assistant and read the letters on the charts, she listened carefully as the optometrist changed the lenses and gave her specific directions as to what she needed to focus on. I didn’t even need to be there! And the best part was, I noticed a few times she was becoming anxious and then was able to calm herself down. (She told me afterwards the big machines scared her a bit.) I was so proud of her. Then she sat patiently and watched me do the same thing and of course helped me pick out new glasses. The sweet girl was hoping she would be able to choose some too but fortunately she has no need for them!
11:00am: Orange Leaf opens at 1:00..Boo!
11:15-12:15: Mall time. My little lady just wanted to walk around the mall with me. Our first stop was Kohls for the dreaded swimsuit shopping. If you ever want to feel beautiful completing this horrible task, take your daughter with you, and make sure she is getting a bit tired of shopping when you are in the dressing room. “Mom you look great” “Mom that one is beautiful” “Mom I liked the last one!” We looked at toys and passed them up then headed to Justice, a store I had been wanting to take her to for awhile. Where does she head…those darn Ty beanie boos. Those things are like gold in my house. With the quick reminder of no toys we headed to look for an outfit. My ladies usually get clothing from goodwill or friends so this was a treat for her. She picked out an adorable outfit and asked the lady at the counter if she could wear it home, and she did. As we were leaving the mall we passed up one of those photo booths. $5 for a strip of pictures, what a joke. My little lady spotted that thing from a mile away, “Mom, Mom!!!! let’s do it!” The word no started to come out of my mouth until I remembered when I didn’t want pictures with my mom anymore. I’m not sure of the specific age or even the event in which that occurred but at some point mom was replaced by friends. So I sat in that booth and we did silly pictures, because as long as my daughter wants to get pictures taken with me and have fun together, I’m game. (Mom, take this as an apology now for whatever moment it was that I became “too cool for you” I know you wouldn’t have passed up $5 pics either 🙂 )
12:30: Lunch together. This wasn’t a part of my plan because remember I wanted yogurt? So deciding on a place was totally up to miss monkey. I hate spending money on fast food but I had to feed the girl. She chose DQ and ordered her own food with wonderful confidence and manners and then the part came when I knew she had my heart. The place was packed full, there were several quaint little booths or cool bar stool type seats, but there was this one booth. It was made for a family of at least 5 which isn’t what made it special to her. What made it special was that it had a teeny space just big enough for a mommy and 6 year old to fit where the sun was shining through the window. She often tells me one of her favorite things to do is sit in the sun and feel the warmth on her skin. That alone should let you know she’s all mine. We ate lunch together, prayed together and laughed together in our own little space of sunshine. It may have been pretty close to heaven.
The rest of the day was singing more Smashmouth on the way home, visiting with Grandma and Papa, and then back to our normal afternoon/nightly routine. This date was so much more than I expected. I saw my daughter respect adults and focus during her eye exam. She was patient as I spent an hour myself going through those motions. She learned we can adjust our plans without becoming frustrated (no yogurt:( ) She practiced extreme self control as she looked at all the new toys at Kohls, Justice and throughout the mall. She obeyed her father and didn’t dare ask me as she knew we were on the same team. She used manners to order her own food and cleaned up the table without me asking. She saw mommy not being too timid to pray in a public restaurant and she bowed her head without anything phasing her.
Hopefully I can continue to remember this day when I’m tempted to rush through tasks like grocery shopping or heading to the doctor’s office and I hope that if you’ve noticed you’re doing that lately you would do the same. Your littles love and adore you so much that they genuinely just want your company. They don’t just want you to exist at the store with them, they want to have the experience together. I can’t tell you how many times during the day I heard “This is the best day ever!!!!” I think it’s so important with multiple children to do this often, it’s something I need to work on at my house for sure with the new baby taking a lot of my attention. I’d love to hear your ideas for mommy & me dates. My perspective of time with my daughter has certainly changed a bit today, I don’t even remember what I was looking forward to in the first place but I’m certain spending it with her couldn’t have been better!