Living in a city that isn't entirely child friendly, I find some challenges that I oddly not only expect but appreciate. For instance, the lack of diaper changing stations in restrooms or high chairs in eating establishments come with some sort of double edge sword: less of other people's kids but more attention on mine when she is flexing her vocal chords. The trade off? A child who appreciates her surroundings and eclectic group of people comprised of all sorts of backgrounds; a child who can be entertained without the pacification of I-something-screens, bells and whistles.
To celebrate my little's 18 months of making me relearn everything that I've come to know adulthood to be, I made a list of things that we would like to pass along.
1) Your imperfections, when collected, become a perfect mirror of the real you inside. What you might dislike about yourself, you will find absolutely adorable in someone else. Maybe not a child and in Asbury Park it's more likely that you'll find it in a dog... but you'll find it. Embrace and shine on.
2) Your dreams are as wild and crazy and as big and bold as you want them to be. You are the one who determines your moment. Not circumstance, not weather, not a new outfit, a raise or a fresh sippie cup of milk. It's all you, all the time. Although, a sippie cup helps.
3) Not everyone is your friend. Not everyone you meet will like you or instantly become someone to trust. Not everyone you have become friends with will stay your friends or even have your best interest at heart. And that's okay. You have two options: force them into a hug and hope you don't fall down together OR walk away. Choice is yours.
4) Rules are a loose term. Who said you can't climb the couch? Who said you had to keep all of your shoes in one place? Who said you had to eat you dinner in a certain order? Or even have "dinner" for dinner? Don't ask for permission. Ask for forgiveness.
5) Look at everything with wonder. Everything. Be curious. Re-discover the world around you. Whether it's your cubicle or a great open space of endless waves and beach... take the time to notice the details. Re-discover your loved ones like a Lost Boy trying to determine if the grown man in front of him really was Peter Pan or not. Step away from the phone, the keyboard... that instant connection to a web of words and pics, broadcasting the best-ofs of other people's lives. (Trust me, I know the irony in which I deliver this message and if you don't know where the Peter Pan reference that I am talking about comes from... It's not okay but we can still be friends.)
6) A 2PM nap is glorious. I mean... glorious. As a mother, I have an unattainable list of things that I will accomplish in a quiet hour and half window. Within minutes of tip-tailing around the house, I abandon ship and curl up for a five-minute siesta. The power of a nap at 2 in the afternoon is like that of the strongest espresso, any and all amount of sugar rushes and energy drinks combined that you can find without the crash. You're welcome.
7) You find a song that you love and you make that shit your jam. I mean, something that makes you sway, head-bop bang and boogie until it's 4 minutes is up. You dance as if EVERYONE is watching. This is your stage. Wobble if you want. Because this is your moment, this is your song and you own it like the crazy little monster that you are. And if 4 minutes wasn't enough? Hit repeat to feel that beat.
8) Time spent in a breeze is magical. Whether it is with all of the windows down on car ride, on a bike, on a surf or skateboard, in a stroller seat, wheelchair or running with all of your might.... Wind in your hair, in this moment, don't care. Be light. Enjoy the magic of being dizzy and free.
9) Remember how delicious food can be. We live in a world where everything is over processed and served to us in 90 seconds on cardboard. Do you remember the last time that you had a slice of apple that made your toes tap? Take tiny bites. Pinkies in the air not necessary but rock on with your fancy self. Drink a glass of water and out loud exclaim, "ahhhhh," before placing it back down on the table. It's satisfying. Trust me.
10) "No" in most cases never really means "no." Hearing "no" as an adult has come with such finality and acceptance, that it has become disheartening. "No" really means try harder. Find a different approach. Repackage your idea, method, suggestion, presentation until you get the results that you want. Try telling a toddler "no." See how long you last. I dare you.