I am wondering- am I the only mom who feels the NEED to leave her house, with her child, every day? Am I the only mom who thinks it’s important for her baby to have outside experiences even though he may be too young to remember or understand them? Am I crazy for thinking that leaving the comfort, safety and warmth of my home is a necessary evil in my baby’s upbringing?
Here’s where all of this is coming from. I was talking to a mom that I kind-of know. She’s a social “friend” that I don’t hang out with, but I see about once a week at a local coffee shop. I know she has a baby about the same age as The Boy, but I couldn’t tell you his name or even what he looks like. Because I’ve only seen him once. Even though I see her every week.
Today, I finally asked her where her son was. I couldn’t stand it anymore- my nosiness took over and I had to know where this mysterious son always was. She said she just couldn’t be bothered to take her son out with her during the day. Her mom, who lived right down the street from her house, would come over every day and look after her son so that she could go out and shop, grab a coffee, run errands, whatever. Then she would go home and hang out with her son.
Lest I sound judgey- I know I don’t know this mom’s situation. I know
that I LIKE to get out on my own once in a while. I am not judging her
ability to mother her son- I am sure she plays with him, feeds him,
stimulates his spongey mind, and loves him to bits. There are a
million things that I do every day that other moms could jump all
over. But, her answer made me feel sad.
Her answer made me feel so sad for her son, because I am such a big believer in the importance of getting your child out of the house! I feel like their little minds- sponges, yes?- need that stimulation that only the outside world can provide. Therefore, I felt sad for her son who, as she told me during our conversation, “…gets out about once a week, if he is lucky, because it is way too much work”.
I believe in giving kids experiences. My motto is: “What’s the worst that can happen?”
My son is not easy. He used to cry every time I came near Walmart. He
has thrown a fit in Ikea. I have left my cart, full of food, in an
aisle of the grocery store to escape with my screaming baby. But he has also made friends with an old
man at the food court. And charmed the librarians with his red hair
and big eyelashes. And discovered how much he loves to stare at the fish at the pet store. The benefits of these outings far outweighs the few minutes of work to put his snowsuit and strap him into the carseat and the always present possibility that he might throw a fit.
Our daily outings are nothing special- grocery store, coffee shop, library, a friend’s house, the mall, a mom group, story time. We often meet up with other moms and their baby’s, but we are often alone as well. I chat to The Boy about the colour of apples. He nibbles on a cracker or chatters back to me (“da, da, da, da”- to paraphrase what my 8 month old says). But we leave the house and The Boy discovers that other people and places exist, and gets a break from looking at his mother’s face all day long. It’s fun to see him grow, learn and discover, and that’s what made me feel so sad for this mother who chooses to never take her child out. He isn’t getting the chance to see the outside world and she isn’t getting the opportunity to see him learn and grow in the outside world.
Leaving our house has saved my sanity more then once. And, to be fair and honest, we stay in at least one day a week and just play and read books all day long. But more often then not, we bundle up and get out. So this mommy is so happy that she does!