Take It Outside
Updated: Aug 2, 2019
I will never pretend to be someone who really likes being outdoors. Even living in a place where the weather is lovely 95% of the time, night or day, I just don't need to be outside to feel good. In fact, I find being outside just a tad bit inconvenient and annoying. I have to put on shoes. I have to squint in the sunlight. I have to deal with a creepy-crawly who definitely has his rights to occupy the same space that I am, maybe more. The page on my book blows with the breeze. My hair hates the humidity. I detest the feeling of sand in my toes, or worse, in my bathing suit. And don't even get me started about snow and the cold weather. I find nothing redeeming about snow except for the snow day, that keeps you acceptably trapped inside for days on end.
If/when I finally do get myself settled, in whatever space with whatever I'm about to be doing outdoors, I have to go inside because I need to use the restroom. It's just not worth the effort. Dining outdoors in Europe is my only exception. Hand me food and a glass of wine and I'll sit down and shut up anywhere.
So imagine my surprise when I had children and everything I read said take the baby outside. Go for a walk. Go to the park. Play in the backyard. Sit on the front steps. Take them to the pool. Oh no! Why do I have to do all of that just to have a healthy and happy baby? Thankfully, both of my children were born in November on the East Coast so I had my built-in excuses for not heading outdoors ready and waiting for me:
"It's too cold out for little people."
"It's icy and dangerous out there."
"It is already getting dark."
But I still forced myself into the great outdoors because if the experts said do something, who was I to defy their instructions? We walked and walked and walked. I took my little ones everywhere, confident that I was doing what was best for their development, even if it wasn't the best for mine. Once, feeling rather ambitious, I dropped our car off at the local dealership and walked the 1.5 miles home with my 2-year-old. It only took us 3 hours. It was during his "tell me about THIS one" phase when he noticed anything on the sidewalk. I survived those seemingly endless days of going to park each afternoon. Despite myself, we made it outside quite a bit. And despite me, both of my children love doing things outside. I did try to keep my internal thoughts about nature to myself - they can decide for themselves when they've had enough of the mosquitoes. And while I am still not naturally inclined to head outside when looking for something to do, I know that as a parent, the opportunity to be outside with my children was absolutely invaluable and worth every bit of effort. Endless afternoons were made bearable because we went down the slide 100 times. Cloudy mornings were never boring because we laid on our backs in the yard and watched them roll through the sky. Rainy days were still fun because we loved wearing boots and finding puddles to jump in.
And that brings me to this week. It is hotter than Hades in Atlanta. Humid, buggy, thunderstorm-y. Exactly the type of weather I love to hate. And everyday, my kids wake up first thing, jump in their bathing suits and are waiting for me to go to the pool with them. I feel like saying "do I HAVE to?" but I oblige. I find the biggest umbrella. I wrap up in the largest towel. I bring my current book and let them who enjoy the fun in the sun enjoy it while I watch. The other day my son came over after awhile and asked me "Mom - will you please get in the pool with us?" I was a little shocked. I never get in the pool.
"Why do you need me in the pool? I don't really swim." (Read subtext here as no chance in Hell, buddy, I hate the water.)
"Because we always do these things together. It is so much fun." He has either blocked it out or never noticed my opt-out behavior. He seems to only remember being that toddler that I trotted out every single day, no matter what. Hmm.....
"Ok. Hamilton can wait." (Read subtext here as oh my goodness my son still wants to hang out with me and if it means I have to get wet I don't care because I do love spending time with him and he will probably not want me around in another year because he's going to be a surly teenager and these moments are precious and I can't believe he invited me to join him, and all of that time spent together outside was worth it because we share a deep bond and outside has been good for me and - - )
"MOM?!? Are you coming already?"
"Yes. I'm coming. Hey, Ben! After we get home from the pool let's take a walk." (Read subtext here as let's build on this lovely moment.)
"No way. Those are so boring. I never liked going for walks."
Maybe he'll change his mind once he has kids of his own. I sure did.