Sometimes Breaking Up the Routine Is What Mom Needs to be Happy

BostonJulia Magnusson of Not Like a Cat is the kind of writer who makes you think, laugh, cry, and fall in love, sometimes all in the same post. She is always honest, pulls no punches, and tends to write with the kind of brutal honesty that makes for great blogging.

We love her and know you will, too. She has graciously agreed to take part in our "12 Days of Gratitude" series featuring some of our favorite bloggers musing on the concept of thankfulness. See below:

This weekend I ran another trail race. It was awesome. I froze my ass off until we started running, and then I ran as hard as I could.

My husband, meanwhile, on his own with the boys, took them for haircuts. Both of them. Then he took them shopping for some stuff.* All in all, I’d say he did pretty well, considering he’s really not on his own with them that often.**


Today, after a brunch with my trail-running group (I think mostly I was in the backyard playing football with the kids, somehow, but it was a really nice get-together and my group is not named Team Pancake for nothing), C got ready to go climbing with a friend while I bravely stayed behind with the kids.

This was not unplanned. Ever since his friend had emailed us to climb with him, I’d told C that he should go and I’d stay home, since, after all, I was taking half of Saturday to run a trail race.

Fair, right? I could have hired a sitter so we could both go, but time alone with friends is so important.

I decided to take the kids into Boston. Alone. Max didn’t want to ride the subway (I think it’s too loud for him), so I drove.  No meters on Sunday. I packed lunches for them, and water, and plenty of changes of clothes for Ben, who’s totally dry all day at daycare but accident central at home lately. (Honestly, I blame Halloween. I don’t know why.)

And we were off. We parked at Government Center and the boys ran across the vast expanse of brick. They went down the huge staircase together, me carrying the stroller and trying to keep up. We walked through Faneuil Hall and watched a man standing on another man’s shoulders (and then head) juggle huge knives. We looked at horses harnessed to buggies. I would have paid for a ride, but Max didn’t want to do that.

Stop when you get to the stairs, kids.

We tried to find the carousel (the promised star of today’s trip) but couldn’t, so instead we looked at boats and then went to see the seals at the New England Aquarium. Max asked about going in, but that place is expensive, so I said we’d get discounted library passes and come back another day. The seals themselves were pretty exciting, though.

Then we got explicit directions to the carousel, which still wasn’t there. A shirt vendor told us it had been packed up for winter but that there was a nearby playground. We walked through a “tunnel” as Max described it and found the playground, whose climbing structure was just big and sprawled enough that I was quite on edge trying to keep both kids in sight and Ben in safety. Then we had a picnic lunch, played in the sandbox, and left. 

I kept both kids alive and in sight in Quincy Market on a weekend, which felt like a big feat, and we hit the potties there. They’d eaten lunch but I hadn’t, and we were all cold, so I suggested we stay indoors for a snack. We’d nearly walked the length of the building before Max spotted a pretzel vendor. Go, Max! And then we sat outside forever in the cold to watch black guys dance (no, I’m serious, that’s how they advertised themselves, repeatedly: “Come watch black guys dance!”).

Max really liked the hip-hop music and the breakdancing moves. Ben appeared to be stoically freezing in the stroller. I wrapped my jacket over him, leaving me shivering in a t-shirt.Finally it was time to run back to the car to warm up and go grocery shopping.It has been a long time since I actually took the boys on an adventure, especially on my own. It was fun. And they were great.

Even grocery shopping after a long cold day, close to dinnertime, they were great. Well-behaved, good listening, funny and fooling around with each other but wanting to do the right thing…it was fantastic.And Max loved it. Ben probably did, too, but wasn’t as expressive about it. Max thinks that we should have adventures more often. I completely agree. I wish I were the kind of mom who is constantly whisking her kids off to various adventures: pottery painting, the aquarium, horse shows, hockey expos, clown demos, Lego competitions (which he is totally not ready for).But we’re working on it. We’ve had more adventures lately (including pottery painting). I’m on the verge of (hopefully) more blogging and writing and social promotion work, which would afford me more afternoons with Max and Ben.

Life since my last big project ended has been really sweet here, more time with the kids, more time for everything, less use of sitters. I like it. So here’s to taking the kids to Boston–or anywhere out of their usual routine–again soon.

* Target.  For cookies and toys. But whatever–I’d rather put a dull spoon through my temple than take both kids to Target on a Saturday morning, you know? Also, those generic-brand “Pumpkin Cremes” are actually pretty good, and the 75-lb box of “naturally colored” goldfish will save my butt on a double-whammy double shift of parent helping at Max’s preschool this week. So go, C!

** Not a blame. He has a full-time, onsite job. I have a part-time, freelance-from-home job. It just happens that I spend more time with the boys.

Did you ever just have an awesome day with your kids?


Image via JasonParis/Flickr

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