Since my kids came along, I have grown accustomed to the different pace they set for our day. Places for lunch are analyzed for quick food delivery, activities are weighed against nap and bedtime schedules and time for “grown up” interests are planned for when family is visiting or a babysitter can come.
I’m ok with this, usually. Today I realized though that almost all of my museum visits in the last three years have been for the benefit of my son. I pick the place, but it is with the idea of joint enjoyment in mind and his needs set our schedule. Letting him help set the pace and keeping up with food/rest needs makes sure that we don’t end up carrying him out of there in tears. However, it leaves little time for me to enjoy seeing anything.
I hadn’t noticed it before today. We went to the National Aquarium, a place I haven’t been to in years, and he was racing down the ramps flashing past every tank. The farther we got the more frustrated I was getting. “You were talking so much about seeing the sharks, if you want to see them you actually have to stop and look!” and, in my head, “Why did we pay money to come here, we should have just gone to a mall with a ton of escalators.” Add to that a baby who was overstimulated and crying in the front carrier and I didn’t peek into a single viewing window.
When we got to the dolphin area they were out and very playful, but he was hungry and wanted to GO. On the outside I was responsible Mom “OK, let’s bathroom and get some lunch.” but on the inside I was stamping my feet and shrieking “But, I WANNA SEE THE DOLPHINS!”
That was the truth of it. It wasn’t the money we’d paid, or the fact that he wasn’t spending time looking, it was the fact that MY museum needs weren’t being met. I think of museums as a family adventure, something we do together. But, as a museum-loving person, it makes sense that I want to experience it my way occasionally too.When the kids are with me, operating at their pace is better for everyone. But why couldn’t a museum be the plan when I get “me time?” Some people want to read a book or get their nails done, I want to wander an exhibit at my own pace. Something to remember the next time I have a kid free afternoon