Normally, taking AJ out in public involves a bit of anxiety on my part. It’s not that it is all that difficult, or that she doesn’t behave well, it’s just that I’m still getting used to doing it. I’m still learning how to balance enjoying myself and tending to AJ’s needs. Usually when we get home I breathe a sigh of relief and wonder why I even bothered dragging us out at all.
This weekend, we took AJ to the Columbus Zoo. It wasn’t until after we left that it hit me – I actually had a good time.
In typical parent fashion, we got to the zoo an hour and a half later than we originally planned. The day was sunny and beautiful and it was obvious the place was already packed. We parked our car and unloaded our bags, packed with enough supplies to survive approximately 56 hours should we have to shelter in place…because you never know what will happen and heaven forbid you end up in a pubic place without a baby wipe.
At the entrance gates, we watched as a sea of strollers poured over each other. Seriously, I’ve never seen so many strollers in one place. Umbrella strollers, all-terrain strollers, jogging strollers, double strollers, even a triple stroller (with the cutest triplet babies taking their naps). And then we noticed the wagons. Wagons galore. Wagons with children, wagons with coolers, wagons with toys. So many wagons I convinced myself we must need a wagon.
Despite the crowd, we got in with ease. We wandered past bears, elephants, penguins and more. If you asked AJ about the trip, she would probably say (if she could talk) that she saw a lot of crazy creatures running around and chasing after their young. Since she was confined to the stroller most of time her main viewing attraction was the people. And there were people everywhere. Parents and families of all shapes and sizes moved past us in waves, all looking at maps and yelling back at a wandering child to stay with mommy.
All this controlled chaos might seem like it would make for a stressful trip, but I think I was the most relaxed I have ever been taking AJ out in public. I didn’t need to worry about if the stroller would fit where we wanted to go. I didn’t feel self-conscious when we spread out our baby supplies at lunch, filling an entire six-seat table. When I went to the bathroom to change AJ, the changing table was in a logical spot (for once). And the last thing I was worried about was her crying.
When I took a close look around me, I noticed many moms nursing, changing diapers and otherwise taking care of their children while those who passed didn’t even blink. I wasn’t the only one who took advantage of the crowd as a bit of privacy and was able to simply take care of her child and enjoy the day.
Although AJ is too young to really know what was happening, I think she had a good time. She made her happy screeching sounds many a time and took a nice long nap for the better part of the afternoon.
And last but not least (although now that I look back, I’m embarrassed about this one), I completely embraced my mom status and busted out the selfie stick for a few family photos.
Kelly Weikle and her husband Chris are navigating the uncharted road of parenthood with their infant daughter, AJ. Kelly shares the ups, downs, laughs, and cries of new motherhood on The Mommyhood every Monday. When not discovering what everyone else who has a child already knows, Kelly works full time in corporate communications.