I walked to the library today, with Jacob & Ava. It was too hot to stay in the house, so we trekked a few blocks away to seek relief in the cool confines of our neighborhood hangout.
When the double doors opened, a blast of cold air hit us, followed by the familiar smell of…books. Refreshing. The kids ran ahead of me (as it is practically their second home), and I paused for a moment to glance at the flyers of upcoming events posted in the foyer. A sign announcing the library’s 4th birthday hung centered on the bulletin board and caught my eye immediately.
Four years old.
The year 2010 saw two of my life dreams realized during one deliciously hot summer. First, on July 30th, my daughter was born. My fourth child, and only little girl. Second, a library opened four blocks away from our home.
I was in heaven.
I remember the day the library opened. It was nearly a month after Ava was born, August 28th to be exact, and the older children & I were restless with cabin fever. Those of you who have had a nursing newborn can relate, I’m sure. You are a prisoner to the baby’s sleeping and eating schedule for several months and that usually makes outings a little tricky (that’s an understatement).
Those of you who have grown up in the triple-digit Northern California valley heat can also relate…there are days that it is nearly impossible to venture outside, mostly because the temperatures are darn near suffocating.
So there we were, in late August, reeling from the stuffy summer air and the demands of an infant schedule, and suddenly we are presented with a viable alternative to house arrest. And it was in the form of an air-conditioned, kid-friendly palace full of reading materials, mural covered coves, and computers. And books. Lots of books.
We headed over to the opening festivities, little newborn Ava in a baby bjorn on my chest, and the kids at my side, library card applications in hand.
In the past four years, we’ve spent countless hours in that library. Ava especially. When I had to go back to work, her Nana would take her to the children’s events they offered during the day…baby/toddler playtime, children’s story hour, and kids sing-a-longs. Both Nana & Ava forged friendships during those times at the library…friendships that continue to thrive to this day. In fact, Ava met her first official best friend at one of those gatherings.
Some days, when I would get home from work, I’d pack up the kids and backpacks, and we’d head to the library to tackle homework, research, or just to steal a few quiet moments before the dinner/bedtime madness hour began. Ava would happily tag along, toddling her way in and out of the children’s area, dragging board books into the study rooms, and babbling away as I attempted to sneak in a few pages of pleasure reading to detox from the duties of parenthood.
If you were to pull my library records from this period, they’d tell a story of their own, I’m sure, as our list of checked out books included variations of everything from How to Get Baby to Sleep Through the Night and Fostering Healthy Sibling Relationships to Easy Meals That Don’t Require Mom To Lift a Finger, and Ways to Keep Your Sanity While Juggling Career and Motherhood.
As I looked through Ava’s baby photos the other night, I realized just how central a role the library played in our lives during these past four years. It has been a place of respite and recharging, exploration and entertainment. It’s safe to say we all grew up a little in the comfort of that space.
Happy Birthday, Pocket Library.
And a very Happy 4th Birthday to my daughter, my love, Ava Ixchel. May your year be filled with blessings and books galore, little mama.