Dandelions and Writing: A Simple Wish for Time

I watch my son pick a dandelion from the front yard by the birch tree. I know what he is going to do next. He can’t resist. It’s in his nature to stir the stillness. Without hesitation, he lifts the dandelion seed head to his mouth and casually blows on the white, feathery seeds. The bristles float in all directions, covering several feet of grass as they land. My husband can’t stand this. He knows that this will only multiply the dandelions in our lawn –making it look exceptionally flawed in comparison to our neighbor’s perfectly manicured emerald carpet. But there is something beautiful, almost magical, in watching a child unknowingly propel new life into the air with a simple breath. And although my son is not one to make wishes on the seeds that he sends into the air, I certainly am.

***

Twenty months. For the past 20 months I have started and ended every single day with the same wish. I wish to have time to write. I wish to have time to work at my laptop writing in the morning, drinking a hot cup of coffee before everyone wakes. I wish I could ignore the daily household chores while the baby naps and take that time to write outside on the front step with a pen and notebook. I wish I still had energy left in my body and soul at the end of each long day to spend a couple hours drafting the essays that I write in my head while doing dishes, folding laundry, and playing with my children.

Time. There just never seems to be enough time in a day. There is always something else that could have been completed, or started. But time sets limits to what we can do, and many days, all I can see are my limits. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Shower, watch children, and go to work. Laundry, dishes, and cleaning. Emails, bills, and appointments. Planning, planning, and planning. These items are all priorities. My family needs to be fed. Our bills need to be paid. We need to take care of our house. The list goes on, so I continue to tackle “the list.” But the list does go on, and it always will.

I’ve spent the past 20 months making every excuse not to write, and my biggest excuse is time. There are so many priorities in life, especially when you are raising a family. Your first priority is supporting your family with their basic needs. That in itself is a huge task that entails making money, operating a household, and giving your love and attention to each family member’s beautiful soul. And as a mother, I often lose sight of other priorities that need my attention too. I look at my day and plan out everything that I need to do in order to take care of my family, but I forget to do the same for myself.  And even though I am in the thick of motherhood, I am human, and I need to allow myself to make my needs a priority too. But how do I find or make the time to do this?

Time. There will never be enough time. There will never be enough time with my kids. There will never be enough time to work on the house or garden. There will never be enough time on this earth. Time places limits; it’s a form of measurement that fills our days. And many days, all I notice is the time. Is it time to wake up? Is it time to leave the house? Is it time for lunch? Is it time for the baby to take a nap? How much time do I have while she naps to accomplish all of the items on my to-do list? Is it time for my husband to get home from work? Is it time to get the kids ready for their evening activities? Is it time for the kids to go to bed? How much time do I have left before I should be going to bed? What time do I need to set my alarm for?

There will never be enough time to write, especially if I continue to measure my days by looking at the time in this way.

***

My son picks another dandelion, this time near the row of hostas leading to the backyard. And I know what he is going to do next. I’ve witnessed it countless times this summer, and countless times the summer before. I pick a dandelion, too. We breathe in, exhale, and release the dandelions’ seeds into the air. They float for a few seconds before landing in the grass. Over time, dozens of more dandelions will be waiting to be picked next. They will be waiting to be chosen, to be given life with a new breath of air. And the words will float and fall onto the page all in their own time.

Creativity Jam: One of Many New Exhibits Opening at Minnesota Children’s Museum

The Minnesota Children’s Museum reopens this week in St. Paul after being closed for several months for a major remodel, and the kids and I are beyond excited! For real, my son was jumping up and down on the couch the other day when I shared the news with him. The museum has been a family-favorite destination ever since I left my desk job to be a stay-at-home mama four years ago. And after a long winter, we are in desperate need of our museum fix.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Minnesota Children’s Museum

{I received a family membership to the Minnesota Children’s Museum for sharing my family’s experiences at the museum with you. All opinions expressed in my posts are 100% my own.}

Why do we love MCM so much? Let me explain:

  1. Change of scenery. I think we can all agree that sometimes you just need to leave your house because the kids are going bonkers, and they are driving you bonkers. A trip to the museum gives us all a break from our normal routine and interactions, and it gives us an opportunity to explore new territory.
  2. Time to reconnect. I will admit that sometimes it is hard for me to play with my children. Dressing Barbie dolls in different outfits, and playing target practice with Nerf guns can get old real fast. I find myself making excuses like having laundry and dishes to do in order to get out of setting up Shopkins and studying how many points a Pokémon card is worth. When going to the museum, I am forced to play. And through play, I am able to relax and reconnect with my kids. There are no distractions of needing to get something done around the house, and there isn’t a Barbie in sight. It’s a win-win for mama and the kids.
  3. Space to learn. At the museum we have an amazing opportunity to play in an environment that is engaging, fun, and creative. The museum gives us access to many activities that we don’t have at home, and it gives us more space to enjoy playful activities together. What I love most about the Minnesota Children’s Museum is their emphasis on learning through play. Exhibits are thoughtfully designed to spark creativity, innovation, and critical thinking. Volunteers are stationed throughout exhibits to encourage children to explore ideas about how things work. And because there are many other families visiting the museum too, kids have a great opportunity to learn to communicate better and collaborate with each other as well.

The Minnesota Children’s Museum officially reopens on Wednesday, June 7th, but last week the baby and I got to take a sneak peek at some of the exhibits while the big kids were at school. The museum designed and built ten new amazing exhibits for kids of all ages, and one of the exhibits that I am especially looking forward to exploring often with my kiddos this summer is Creativity Jam.

Creativity Jam is an artistic space for families to create new projects and expand on projects that have been created by other museum-goers. The exhibit, which is like a giant canvas for the inner artist of each visitor, is located in the atrium near the new Sprouts exhibit and the cafe. It consists of a face-painting station (which has always been a favorite museum feature with my kiddos), a stop-motion video story station, a workspace for creating and building projects, and the big white room.

Play is such an important part of our children’s lives, and ours too as adults and parents. And part of play is allowing ourselves to create. Creativity Jam gives families opportunities to build with a variety of materials that the museum plans to change out here and there. The exhibit allows kids to put stickers and tape on walls and other objects (something they can’t do at home!). It gives children the freedom to use their imaginations and explore ideas with video storytelling. And kids and parents get a chance to loosen up with some fun face painting. The activities in Creativity Jam are engaging for kids, adults, and even toddlers. I didn’t think that my littlest one would be able to enjoy the activities, but she hopped up on a stool all by herself and started building with blocks and playing the piano. Creativity Jam is a great space for truly letting one’s imagination soar.

Do you need some inspiration to find more joy in playing with your kids? Are you looking for a new space you can escape to with your family when you are in need of an engaging experience? Be sure to add a visit to the museum on your summer bucket list. The museum also offers family memberships, which pay for themselves after only a few visits. There are so many new exhibits to explore and adventures to be had with your children at MCM. I know life gets busy, and there always seems to be something that needs to get done around the house or at work. However, play is important too. Play gives us the chance to connect, explore, learn, and create. It gives us the opportunity to feel free to be ourselves, and that’s an amazing feeling.

Please visit mcm.org for more information about the museum’s grand opening, the free block party later this month, family memberships, location, and hours. Let’s make play a priority in our community again!

The third season.

The third season.

She’s here. The wind gently whispers her arrival, and the first set of leaves begin to fall. I push the stroller with one hand, hold my warm mug of coffee in the other, and slowly make my way back home. The big kids are at school now. For the next few hours they will play, learn, and make friends. All on their own. For the next few hours, it’s just me with my baby daughter and baby nephew. We will eat, play, sing, and read. Fingers crossed they will nap well too. Our walk is quite peaceful this morning. It’s just what I need to settle into the day. It’s just what I need to get ready to greet her: Hello, Autumn.

The tree-covered path is still damp from yesterday’s rain. I maneuver the stroller to avoid the muddy patches, but notice that the tires have already begun to collect the first fallen leaves. I watch the brown and yellow colors spin with the wheels as I continue down the path. Some remain stuck to the wheels while others slip off. A gust of wind releases more leaves into the air. I reach out to touch one. It is time to welcome this new season.

The last time the leaves began to change and fall, I was preparing to greet my new daughter. I could hardly wait to see the brilliant shades of orange, red and yellow. I could hardly wait for her arrival. And finally, one October day a big gust of wind came and she was here. I held her tiny body close to my chest while the final leaves fell. I watched her so close, waiting for those first smiles and intentional movements while the snow covered everything around us. Then fresh buds began to speckle the bare branches, and our baby girl delighted us with constant babbling and her growing personality. As the temperature began to rise and the trees became lush with leaves, I watched my daughter learn to crawl, pick grass out of the lawn, and feed herself watermelon. And now, well now I’m listening to her say “Wow!” as she notices the leaves too.

Autumn is beautiful, but the perfectly crisp morning air and vibrant colors never last long enough here in Minnesota. The changing of the leaves will peak soon, and before we know it, the branches will be bare once again. We hold on tight to this fleeting beauty, and we are abruptly forced to let it all go. I watch another wave of leaves fall around us. These leaves that were not here last year and are now suddenly ready to be released from the branches they grew from and clung to over spring and summer. They are released, and more leaves will grow next year, and the year after that. And while I’m reluctant to accept that this season is already beginning to swiftly flee, this new season does bring the promise of space and time for new leaves to grow.

I push the stroller through the waves of falling leaves and acknowledge that this beautiful season with my third baby has already begun to culminate too. She is inching closer to toddlerhood. There are many more firsts to come for her, but this first wave of firsts is so precious. With each child, I held on so tight to their first big moments, and with each baby time forced me to let go so quickly. It all begins, and changes, and passes by swiftly. The leaves continue to fall and glide through the air around me. I collect a few from the damp ground as I make my way back home. These leaves are lovely, and although they are released too quickly, they are mine to press and keep forever in my heart.

Scary Mommy
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