Last Friday we took the opportunity to cross an item off our family adventure list for the year – a visit to the Tulsa Aquarium. I wasn’t sure if Charlotte would enjoy the experience or not…after all she is only ten months old. I was completely unprepared for her total absorption and fascination with the animals, the lights, the other people there…she soaked in every second!
I had no idea how her sense of wonder would enhance my own enjoyment of the experience. I’ve been to lots of aquariums throughout the years, including Sea World and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is purported to be the best in the country (even though there aren’t any whales :)). After being splashed by Shamu and swimming with sting rays, I was prepared to be underwhelmed by the Tulsa Aquarium. However, getting to see the sea creatures through the eyes of my daughter gave me a whole new appreciation for these magnificent creations.
As giant stripers swam by the glass, just inches from her face, I felt too the amazement of being so close to a fish that was bigger than me!
As Charlotte reached forward into the water of a touch tank to tentatively stroke the flesh of a sea slug, I felt the slimy texture too.
I’ve never before felt the addictive power of living vicariously through someone else. I’ve always been surprised by the parents who take their toddlers to the Magic Kingdom, wondering what possible fun could be had from spending a day standing in line with a cranky two-year-old. Now I’m chomping at the bit to plan our first Disney experience, knowing that it will all feel new again through the eyes of Baby Girl (after view the clownfish exhibit I’m also dying to introduce her to Nemo! :)).
What an incredible balancing act awaits me as a mom. How will I determine which experiences Charlotte will truly benefit from, and which ones I want her to do simply because I will enjoy her doing them? Just as her enjoyment of an experience can multiply my own, I can see too how pushing her to do something she’s not ready for just because I’m excited about it would lead to mutual disappointment and frustration (as illustrated by the frequent melt-downs seen on a certain reality TV show featuring moms and tots on sugar highs). It’s my responsibility not only to help Charlotte develop a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around her, but also to protect her from over-stimulation and exhaustion.
So this simple afternoon activity has opened my eyes to yet another blessing that comes with Motherhood…and the dangers of misusing that blessing. A trip to the aquarium was absolutely the right decision for her developmentally, and I’m so glad we got to share the experience as a family (my mom and dad came along too).
But I think a trip to Chuck E. Cheese can wait until she’s able to play the games, and we’ll save bowling for after she’s learned to walk. 🙂 I’m so thankful that I’m not alone in this mothering thing…that my husband is here to offer guidance and wisdom about what we should and shouldn’t do with Charlotte (he’s already reminded me that we’ve decided not to take a Disney trip until she is old enough to enjoy and remember the experience…I’m not at all judging any family that decides to go earlier…that’s just the decision we’ve made for our family. My first trip to Disneyland happened when I was two :)).
Most of all I’m thankful that the Lord is with me on this mommy journey, that He gives all the advice I need in His Word, and that His Spirit is right here, willing and able to guide my decisions and actions if I will just give up control and turn to Him. I am constantly amazed and thankful for the gift of Mommyhood and the way my Heavenly Father uses it to turn my heart more and more toward Him.