Falling in Love with NOLA (Again)
Motherhood has allowed me to relive childhood memories with my own son.
Motherhood comes with many feelings. The surprise of the first flutters. The warmth of the first smile. The pride of the first steps. The tiredness of the first (second, third and onward … ) all-nighter. The stress of every illness. While I still feel fairly new to this thing called motherhood, I have another feeling I would like to add to the myriad of mom feelings — the bliss of living out my childhood memories all over again.
The fun part of parenting is taking your children on new adventures and being there for those moments. I did not expect it, but bringing my son to the places I loved when I was a child makes me hold those memories even dearer. I remember I could not wait to bring him to his first visit to Audubon Zoo and The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. As I pushed him around in his stroller, my own memories came flooding back. The zoo’s white alligator and salt-water taffy were both a hit, and we gladly welcomed an air-conditioned tour of the aquarium after a stroll along the Mississippi River. Granted, most of those first trips were filled with midday naps; I loved every bit of it. Though our first trip to the zoo and aquarium is long past, as my son grows older, the aquarium and zoo prove to be a new escapade each time we visit. Watching him run around, explore and pick his favorite places (especially when those places are the same as my own) brings a new facet of fun.
However, the zoo and the aquarium were just the beginning.
I forgot how magical City Park’s Storyland was until we took my son there for Ghost in the Oaks and Celebration in the Oaks — riding in the Tilt-A-Whirl, stepping into Monstro’s mouth, climbing a castle tower and sliding down a dragon slide. Let’s not forget the train ride! Even outside the city limits, while skimming across Honey Island Swamp on a swamp tour, I felt unbelievably lucky to have the chance to raise my son in such a unique, over-the-top, culture-filled place.
Where else can I share my memories of Mardi Gras and carnival season? I loved every minute of my son’s dancing to the high school bands, while perched on top of his dad’s shoulders during his first Mardi Gras parade. Choosing stuffed animals as the most prized and sought after Mardi Gras throw seems to run in the genes. Doubly enlightening, after carting a large bag of beads home, I realize why my mom used to put a limit on how much parade loot we could keep. Most importantly, I can live the dream of the versatility of king cake as a breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack food item.
Certainly, I cannot fail to mention the amazing food I now share with my son. The first experience with beignets was as blissful as expected — nothing but powdered sugar smiles and warm French donuts amid a buzzing Cafe du Monde. Jambalaya is a regular family staple, and, even though he currently calls crawfish “bugs,” I am certain he will learn to love to suck the heads and steer clear of the straight ones. There is so much more food he has yet to try, and I look forward to being there for every first bite.
New Orleans, I did not think it was possible to love you more, yet here I am feeling warm and fuzzy all over again. The memories I had as a child are starting to mesh with the memories I am creating with my own family — memories filled with special places, unique traditions and stellar food. I would not have it any other way.