I began taking my daughter to the library when she was only a few months old. I registered her for free baby time classes where the librarian led us through bouncy rhymes and songs and read us an occasional book. The best part of the class was free play when the librarian got out toys and the babies had free reign with the nesting cups, rubber ducks and cloth balls. It was a great opportunity for my daughter to socialize with the other babies.
Although I may have begun taking my daughter to the library to increase her social skills and to help foster a love of reading at an early age, it wasn’t long before I realized I was benefiting from our library visits too. During the free play I began talking to some of the other mommies. There were five of us who were all first time moms and we all had baby girls a few weeks apart in age. We had a lot in common as our girls were going through the same developmental stages around the same time. We were all sleep deprived together, battling teething and diaper rash simultaneously and after class we found ourselves staying a bit longer and extending free play into the childrens section of the library. We also began looking out for each other. When I was running late and stumbled into class without makeup and with my hair piled on top of my head, they would greet me with a warm relatable smile and scoot over so my daughter and I would have a place to sit in the circle. We exchanged phone numbers and continued our conversations outside of the library by texting each other during nap time. When the girls approached their first birthdays we celebrated together and we began planning play dates and taking our girls to additional classes outside of the library. We recently had a Friday night pizza play date where the daddys met each other. It is clear to see that we were becoming friends.
What makes our mommy group amazing is the diversity each of us brings to the group. Although we have a lot in common (when it comes to being a mommy) when you look past the sippy cups, board books and toddler melt downs, we have vertually nothing in common. We do not live in the same neighborhood, attend the same church, or practice the same religion. We did not grow up together, attend the same schools, or have the same professions. We are not the same age or even the same generation! I am the senior member of the group since I had my daughter later in life and I recently discoved that another mommy in our group has a mother that is younger than me! Although her mother was a teenage mom, it took me awhile to get over the fact that her mother is younger than me. But it doesn’t matter. It didn’t stop Halley from inviting me to a girls night out, including me in the mommy group and always offering up the kindest greeting and welcoming smile at every class we attend together. She and the rest of the mommies are naturals when it comes to motherhood and it is easy to see how much we all love our little girls. In fact, I have learned a lot from the other mommies and I quickly realized age is just a number. Everyone in our group is loved and accepted no matter what.
Our differences are celebrated and there is no judging. Absolutely no judging. And with all of the judgements that are often passed around in the mommy world: breastfeeding vs. formula feeding, stay at home mommy vs. working mommy, cloth diapers vs. disposable diapers and so on, I find it refreshing that our group does not judge each other. In fact, when I reflect on my 44 years of life, this is one of the only groups where I have not felt like others were questioning me or judging my looks, actions or decisions.
Our girls are growing up quickly and I know there will come a time when we will stop attending classes at the library. Life’s circumstances will change: the girls will start preschool, siblings will be added to some families and some of us may move away. No matter what will happen in the future I will never forget the special bond that I shared with Halley, Ashley, Chelsea and Jen during our daughters early years. I will always cherish the love and support they offer to me and my daughter and when our visits to the library come to an end I know I will have lifelong friends who are only a text message away.
My little lady is obsessed with shoes! She knows when she puts her shoes on that it is going to lead to a new adventure: a trip in the car, a walk outside, or running around in the yard. She loves to play outside and when she looks out the window she will say, “Shoes,” signaling that she is ready to go out and play. So for her, shoes are associated with fun and excitement and being on the go.
But her infatuation with shoes isn’t a simple association. She loves my shoes and enjoys trying to put my shoes or her daddy’s shoes on her feet only to end in a total meltdown when she can’t walk in them. And she is beginning to notice that shoes not only come in different sizes but in different styles too. I wore flip flops the other day and when she saw them her face lit up with fascination. Why are Mommy’s toes sticking out? She enjoys watching Mommy walk around the house in the fancy shoes she is going to wear to the Listen To Your Mother show next week. After I practice walking around the house in them she wants to try them on.
Last weekend I had some Gymbucks to spend so we made a visit to the Gymboree clothing store. The store is small but they do sell a tiny selection of shoes. When she spied a rack of shoes she became excited. We left the store with a cute pair of hot pink flowered flip flops. Not exactly the most practical pair of shoes for a novice walker. We have yet to visit the shoe section of the department store or better yet a shoe store. She will be amazed when she discovers there is a store entirely devoted to nothing but shoes and shoe accessories!
Everyone and everything in our household needs to wear shoes. It all started when she discovered a pink poodle I made at Build A Bear years ago. The poodle came dressed in a poodle skirt with a matching scarf tied around her neck. Her outfit was complete with bobby socks and black and white saddle shoes. When my little one saw the shoes she immediately took them off and had me help her put them on a giant Build A Bear red bird my mom bought her to commemorate her first trip to Busch Stadium to see a Cardinal baseball game. This led her to finding the need for other stuffed animals to wear shoes. She has two beloved stuffed lovies: a pup named Homer that my in-laws were sent when they donated money to Habitat For Humanity and a grey and white striped cat who is simply called, cat. When I hear her call out to the cat it conjures up images of Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Since I couldn’t find a pair of shoes small enough to fit on their tiny stuffed paws I placed an old pair of infant socks on each animal and all is right with the world!Yes, my 18 month old is going through a Carrie Bradshaw phase. The shoe stage isn’t something I recall reading about in any of my parenting books but it is an exciting stage in her development. She is beginning to categorize, make associations, and to role play by putting shoes on her stuffed animals. She is even taking an interest in putting her shoes on by herself. My baby is growing up and it won’t be long before she is on to the next obsession and the next stage in her development. Toddlers may fixate on one thing because it brings comfort and gives them a sense of control in their ever-changing world. Another reason is that young kids can’t help wrapping themselves around things more intently because they’re hardwired to focus on only a few things, says Stan Spinner, M.D., the chief medical officer at Texas Children’s Pediatrics in Houston. But as they get older and their brains evolve more, they’ll be able to appreciate more interests. While other toddlers may be obsessed with cartoon characters, trains, turtles or trucks, my daughter loves shoes. Her shoe obsession isn’t out of control, she has only been walking for a few months and owns four pair of shoes and a pair of flip flops. Although I don’t think I will be introducing my little shoe lover to expensive designer shoes (notably Manolo Blahniks, Christian Louboutins and Jimmy Choos) anytime soon. While my little miss is in her “shoe phase” I think I’ll sit back and sip a cosmopolitan and quietly enjoy the fact that at this point in her life I don’t have to struggle with her when I ask her to put her shoes on.