Wednesday, March 15, 2017

country mice visit the big city

We kicked off March Break with a trip to my sister's house near Ottawa. We ventured into the city to visit the Children's Museum at the Canadian Museum of History in Hull. 

I never intended to raise "country mice"; I always had grand plans of visiting the city often so my children were street smart and comfortable in crowds. I wanted them to see the diversity of people, architecture beyond the rafters of a barn, and experience the excitement and bustle of the urban rhythm. 

That hasn't happened. When we're nestled into our life on the farm the city is like a distant mirage; it's easy to forget it exists at all. I'll admit to some anxiety around navigating a van in the streets of Ottawa, finding parking, dealing with one-way streets. I'm comfortable driving in a village with one street light but I break into a sweat as soon as the highway switches to four lanes. I'm a country mouse. 

Luckily, my sister drove us all into Ottawa. The kids thought the Chateau Laurier was a castle and couldn't believe the beauty of our Parliament Buildings. They oohed and aahed like tourists from afar, which I suppose they are. 

It turns out that of all the wonders at the amazing Children's Museum, the escalators were the biggest attraction. Faced with the magnificence of totem poles from Canada's west coast, they begged, "Can we go on the escalavator again?"

I'm setting a goal for myself to get out with them more. There are so many great attractions in Ottawa, and it can be done on the cheap thanks to our local libraries which carry family passes to many museums and galleries. 

I'll just have to make sure to include attractions that have escalators.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

a new season

We live on a corner so we have three choices of which direction to take when we go for a walk. We took the sunniest path. The kids climbed the snowbanks, chased each other, wandered back to hold my hand or my husband's, slingshotting back and forth, away from us then back in ever-widening circles.

This is what life feels like right now. Our kids, once so small and busy and demanding of everything we could provide, now get dressed for outside play in the wink of an eye. Sometimes I don't even know they've gone outside till they come back in all full of laughter and high spirits. They create snow-board trains and crash into fences, have adventures in the winter-dark, and then hang their own stuff up so it's dry for the next wander. 

We find ourselves looking around again, seeing our life changing and seeing each other for what feels like the first time in years. The whirlwind that picked us up and tossed us around when we became parents is losing strength and I can see us stumbling a bit as we're set back down on our feet in this new normal of being parents, not of infants and toddlers, but of school-aged kids.

We stood by the road as they wandered into our neighbour's field (we swear, we didn't notice the No Trespassing sign until they'd come back out) and watched them play, and marveled at the fun of having an uninterrupted conversation. We posed for a rare picture together. The littlest one trotted across the crust on top of the snow in her running shoes (she insisted) and returned to fetch her big brother's Adventure Bag. There were no tears and no bickering.

Getting through the early years of parenting is a lot like getting through the winter. Beautiful, exhausting, hard, satisfying. You get into the next season and feel a sense of pride at what you've survived, of gratitude for the lessons learned, for the many joys, and for the fact that it has inevitably come to an end (though at times it felt like it would never end). 

I don't feel the melancholy I thought I'd feel when I no longer had babies in my arms because I'm enjoying this phase of parenting so much. The kids are bigger and louder, and have personalities diverse and beautiful. I'm told again and again of how kind and compassionate they are. They can be mean to each other but always come out on the other side knowing they've got each others' backs.

Here's to a new season!