They say you relive your childhood when you have kids. I couldn't agree more, but in my case my mid-life childhood experience had a bit of a twist. I'm actually living an American childhood for the first time.
Growing up in Jordan, I had a wonderful childhood that involved playing with cousins and spending the weekends at my grandparents' house. I colored and played music and sports. We took day trips and traveled to neighboring countries. It was wonderful, but it was different than what my 2-year-old twins are currently experiencing. Their childhood is an American one, and I get to live it with them for the first time too.
Here is a snapshot of the new experiences I went though while raising my kids in the American suburbs:
Dr. Seuss: Oh the places I went to with Dr. Seuss thanks to my kids. It turns out that Mr. Brown is really a wonder, and I don't think I will ever in my life touch green eggs and ham. Thing One and Thing Two are a bit freaky, and how about that Grinch with the small heart! After eight years of living in the U.S., it was thanks to Dr. Seuss that somehow I feel assimilated. Finally I get the Grinch jokes. Wooho!
Storytime: I grew up to be a lover of books, but sadly public libraries were not abundant where I came from. Going to storytime at our local library was a first for me as it was for my kids. I'm in awe of how the love of reading is instilled in kids at a very young age here, and it is made fun by the accompaniment of dance and music. I'm not ashamed to say that I always look forward to the upcoming storytime, and most of the time I enjoy it more than the kids.
Pumpkin patch: Last fall I took my first hayride with the kids, and went to an actual pumpkin patch. What a lovely, lovely experience it was. It was a perfect fall weather and the kids and their mama couldn't be more excited to pick pumpkins, big and small, to herald the advent of the fall season. For some reason, I had no interest to do that before kids. Really didn't know what I was missing.
Trick or treating: It was only last Halloween that I went trick and treating for the first time. The fascinating part for me is that everyone in suburbia participates: Old, young, widowed women living alone and young couples with no kids. Everyone has candy stocked in their house the night before in preparation for the arrival of the trick or treaters. It was rainy that day and my daughter had a meltdown after half an hour of trick or treating (I'm blaming the sugar), but it was an enlightening experience for kids and mama alike. When I told my sister back in Jordan about my first trick or treating experience she was surprised to know that we actually knocked on strangers' doors. It is indeed surprising that people you never talk to are more than happy to open their doors for you on Halloween night and hand your kids candy.
Cutting your own Christmas tree: It was only this year that we got our first live Christmas tree by going to a Christmas farm. What prompted my husband and I to do this after almost a decade of "fake" trees is the thought that our kids might be old enough now to remember the experience. The kids and I watched in awe as my husband grabbed a saw and cut the tree of our choosing. The kids couldn't be happier to see the tree we all picked on the roof of our car, and eventually in the middle of our living room.
Decorating cookies: While scrambling to find a new activity to engage my easily-distracted and overactive toddlers, I decided to indulge in a new first: Decorating cookies for Christmas. We invited a friend and her son over and turned the event into a playdate. Coming up with holiday-themed cookie using cutters and then decorating them using icing and sprinkles was a laborious effort but loads of fun. It was a first for me as well that I had to document it with pictures, lots of them.
It is true that having kids can limit your life in so many ways. My career, for example, took a very different turn after the birth of my twins. However, the new experiences and adventures that I lived through because of them definitely outweigh any life's limitations. Here's to parenting.