Surviving the Mother Hood (One Museum Visit at a Time)

Confession of the Week: I never guessed that motherhood would mean I’d belong to a gang of two kids who respect me as their mom, but think I’m cool enough to be a part of their inner circle. A small posse of fruit snack packing, juice box-spilling, little stinkers I have befriended and have successfully staked claim as their leader. In return, they have affectionately declared me the “big stinker.”

A "Mommy and Me" self-portrait by the bigger little stinker (Marissa).My bigger of the little stinkers is an artist. She stakes claim—in her own way—over our neighborhood street—a small cul-de-sac—drawing works of art using her rainbow mix of jumbo sidewalk chalk. By association my littler, little stinker follows along and grabs hold of the jumbo chalk to draw his best tree, sun or rainbow. Usually he loses interest, jumps up and is in full pursuit of another activity that keeps his attention.

As with so many other kids, my little stinkers are active, creative and ready to color the world with their vision of what’s fun and interesting. Even my son—the main culprit of juice box spills—will see the puddle of fruit punch on the floor and say with enthusiasm, “Look it spilled in the shape of a lion—ROAR!”

So, when the subject arose of where to celebrate the bigger of the little stinkers birthday a few weeks ago, I decided on the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh (CMP). My little posse and I can always find a reason to visit the museum. Within our “gang’s” language we refer to the CMP as the “art park.” It has all the benefits of an art museum with a mix of a traditional park—void the swings or sliding boards—but options in physical activity are still there. From the wall maze in the main hall, to the water-play exhibit on the third floor, both these exhibits provide children with an opportunity to move around and let loose—and that’s just from inside the museum. In the rear of the CMP is a back yard with an interactive clubhouse for kids where they can activate solar music chimes powered by solar panels.

Marissa drew herself kite flying just a couple of weeks ago.The day of the birthday party our guests were invited to explore the area of the CMP called The Attic. Within the attic are cabinets of curiosity, the gravity room and the phosphorescent room where a strobe light catches the shadow of the kids as they lean against the wall.
Speaking of walls, our bedroom walls, the pantry door in our kitchen and our refrigerator are full-functioning gallery spaces for my little stinker’s artwork. I have enough drawings and paintings for centuries to come—and I love it all.

Even here in my office at the magazine, I have a bookshelf with an entire cubby dedicated to my little stinkers’ creations. Recently, I received a group work email from Kaitlyn, our assistant editor with scoop that the CMP has a Mother’s Day CD Card-Making class scheduled for Mother’s Day. “Yes, I’m on it,” I thought. “Another perfect excuse to rally my posse and visit the art park.” No jumbo chalk required—just a big stinker leading the way for her little stinkers—fruit snacks and juice boxes in tow.

Mother’s Day CD Card-Making, Sun., May 9 from 1-4pm.
Make a CD for Mother’s Day as the CMP staff conducts and records interviews on an audio CD. The CD can be decorated and affixed to a card as a Mother’s Day gift that she can cherish on her refrigerator door for years to come. Purchase of a CD Creation Card Kit from the Children’s Museum gift shop required. Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, 10 Children’s Way, Allegheny Square, Northside; 412/322-5058,                 I keep this on my office bookshelf.