On Danny's first birthday, I was six months pregnant with my second son and traveling for work. I suppose this is where you'd expect me to detail the guilt and remorse of not being around on my kid's special day.
I was pregnant, tired, and thrilled to be ordering room service. I also wasn't required to feed or bathe anybody else before heading into the office. It was practically the best day of my life.
You already know that I'm kind of a bad mom by now, right? Hopefully I'm not shocking anyone after all this time.
Regardless, I called home that evening and discovered my husband and Danny had spent the day at the Navy Pier Children's Museum.
"Wasn't he bored senseless?" I questioned. "He's only one. I can't imagine Danny really soaking up a good Monet."
"What are you talking about?" questioned my husband, perplexed.
"Isn't that what a 'Children's Museum' is? Art and statues and stuff?"
"Do you even bother reading those Chicago Parent Magazines you pick up from the lobby? The Children's Museum has a variety of interactive displays and activities designed for little kids. It's not an art gallery. Where do you come up with this stuff?"
My sick, twisted, confused little brain would be the correct answer, but I wasn't about to blow my cover now.
I continued to avoid Children's Museums like the plague. Yet when I became a stay-at-home mom, I started going a tad crazy. One desperate winter day, I piled the kids into the minivan and headed to The Oak Lawn Children's Museum to see what all the fuss was about:
I was pleasantly surprised by how clean, colorful and engaging it was. But that wasn't even the biggest selling point. As I sat down on a bench to watch my kids race wooden cars down a ramp, I heard a friendly voice:
"How old are yours?"
I looked around, confused. Was someone talking to me? Jesus? Is that you? I hadn't had an actual conversation with another living person other than my husband in months.
"Kids. How old are your kids?" The woman smiled patiently.
Was this a trick? And why was I finding this question harder to answer than my high school ACTs?
"Um...let's see here. What month are we in? Ah. Danny is in the neighborhood of four. Jack I think is still three. And Joey, the little one there eating the golf balls? Well he cries a lot, so we stopped counting his months a while back. I'm pretty sure he's still one."
By now, most normal people would have left the deranged lady with three kids of unknown age and indeterminate origin alone without a second thought. Yet this woman stayed and offered human contact and normalcy that had been noticeably absent from my life.
I had made my first mom friend.
I immediately purchased a yearly membership to the museum where I would go to compare notes, learn of local activities, and feel human again. The children's museum became a sanctuary of sorts. And best of all? LOOK what is connected to the building:
|XL cream & sugar if you're wondering.|
By the way, has anyone tried the seasonal brownie batter donuts? AWESOME:
|Liquidy, melty chocolate brownie batter inside. It's like they made it just for ME.|
The Oak Lawn Children's Museum provided me comfort, companionship, and a place where my kids stopped asking for Caillou and juice boxes every 15 minutes. I owe the museum a giant debt of gratitude. But instead of accepting my lifetime devotion, they still give back. Why, just look at a certain fabulous new book that you may recognize made available there:
|Psst. This is one of the final places to buy first edition of EPIC MOM! 2nd edition will be available on Amazon next week! Be sure to like book on Facebook as I'm hoping to give away THREE very soon!|
Yes, I just made up that award.
But they deserve it.
And then some.