Over the years, I've developed a mental list of things I’m intensely committed to avoiding.
I don’t dance unless it’s with my kids, or unless you promise me Outkast and wine.
I don’t eat fast food chicken, unless it's a McNugget seasoned with playground sand and half-eaten by a 3-year-old.
I don't leave the house after 9 p.m. It doesn’t matter if you're my fun, millennial younger sister, or Jon Hamm, a Kardashian. Once the sun is down and Dateline is on, I'm staying put.
And I don’t wear shorts in public.
While most of my avoidances stem from age and experience, the shorts thing is mostly due to insecurity. My legs are not my favorite thing. They aren't toned or tan; they're scarred by an ACL repair and ancient mosquito bites, and polka-dotted with bruises that broadcast my general clumsiness. When I was pregnant with Emilia, spider veins accumulated around my ankles, building webs that have only gotten more permanent and complex with each new baby.
During the winter, this is pretty much a non-issue. I can get by in jeans or tights. And during the summer, I've grown accustomed to wearing maxi dresses and midi skirts. And more jeans, because really, denim knows no season. All in all, I get by.
Except now I have kids who like to run and explore, who love to jump in puddles, zoom around playgrounds, crawl through knee-high foliage and build small-scale carnival rides in our backyard, like Emilia’s Water Balloon Slide (patent pending).
Except now it’s really hot outside, and the breezy practicality of shorts is becoming more and more appealing.
A few weeks ago, as we planned and packed for our upcoming trip to Minnesota, where the first weekend would be spent at Matt’s dad’s beautifully rustic lakeside cabin, I decided to swallow my pride, confront my body-conscious fears and spring for shorts. So I bought one new pair and dug out another — last worn in 2010 — from the dark recesses of a dresser drawer.
I wore them to wade in cold lake water. To wrestle with my girls before bedtime. To bounce Phoebe on my knees and swoop her away from her latest path of destruction. When we made our way to Matt’s mom and stepdad’s house in Bloomington, I wore them to walk along shaded, humid trails and splash in Nine Mile Creek with Emilia and Grace.
When we got home and I scrolled through the pictures Matt had uploaded onto our desktop, my first reaction was to wince at my legs. To scold myself for not wearing something more flattering, or for not backing out of the picture entirely. But then my focus shifted to the wide smiles on the girls’ faces.
They were happy to be splashing, happy to be on an adventure, happy to have me there. They were happy that I’d said yes to their pleas for me to join them. They didn’t care at all about what I was wearing, in the best way possible.
My self-consciousness suddenly seemed incredibly petty. Obviously, wearing shorts wasn’t a massive act of bravery, but it was a decision to step outside of myself and forgo my hangups in order to just be. To see myself the way my kids see me and live in the moment.
Just my husband, my girls and me — pasty legs and all — glistening in the Minnesota sun.
Catherine Kraemer writes twice a month for Momaha.com. She and her husband, Matt, are the parents of three young girls – Emilia, 5, Grace, 3 and newborn Phoebe. Originally from St. Louis, Catherine lives in Omaha and works at a local advertising agency.
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Kids 12 and younger eat free every Monday from 4 p.m. until close. There is a limit of two Kids Combos with purchase of one adult meal for dine-in only. This offer is only valid at two locations: near 72nd and Pacific Streets as well as 149th Street and West Maple Road.
Kids Eat for $1 all day on Wednesdays at all locations.
Kids night is every Monday night from 4 to 9 p.m. at Schlotzsky’s. All kids meals are $.99 with each adult combo meal purchase. Kids 12 and younger are eligible and must be present when ordering. This offer is good only at the Schlotzsky's located at 2782 S. 129th Ave.
Kids ages 12 and younger eat for $.99 on Mondays and Tuesdays. Fuddruckers is located at 7059 Dodge St. in Omaha.
Kids Buffet is $.99 with purchase of one adult buffet on Wednesdays. A soft drink is included. A maximum of two kids per family, ages 3 through 10. This cannot be combine with any other offer or coupons. A+ Buffet and Mongolian Grill is located at 14426 West Center Road in Omaha.
Kids ages 10 and younger eat for free on Tuesdays with the purchase of an adult meal at both locations, 737 N. 114th St. and 3605 N. 147th St. in Omaha.
Kids 10 and younger eat free Tuesdays at China Buffet Mongolian Grill, located at 737 N. 114th St. and 3605 N. 147th St. in Omaha, and 2903 Samson Way in Bellevue.
Every Wednesday, children 12 and younger receive a free kids meal with every paid adult. Specials are not available on holidays. Genji Steakhouse is located at 14505 West Center Road in Omaha.
One child 10 and younger eats free per family. Must bring coupon available on their website. Grand China Buffet is located at 11226 Chicago Circle in Omaha.
If your child is 3 or younger, it’s free. Children ages 4 to 12 eat for $4.99 at all locations.
Kids ages 12 and younger eat for $1.99 on Mondays with the purchase of an adult meal.
Kids 10 and younger eat free all day Monday with the purchase of an adult meal. Buffalo Wings and Rings is located at 12240 L St. in Omaha.
Kids eat free after 4 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays with the purchase of an adult entree. The kids meal includes a drink as well. Offer valid at 7051 Ames Ave. in Omaha. Phone: 402-991-9400.
Kids eat free on Sundays with the purchase of one adult meal when dining in.
Kids ages 12 and younger eat for free every day with an adult dine-in meal purchase. Located at 5402 Northwest Radial Hwy. in Omaha.
On Wednesdays, kids ages 10 and younger eat for free from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and 5 to 8 p.m. with an adult meal purchase. Guaca Maya is located at 5002 S. 33rd St. in Omaha.
On Mondays, kids receive a free meal with the purchase of an adult entrée from 5 to 10 p.m. Hectors is located at 1201 S. 157th St. in Omaha.
Kids 12 and younger eat free on Mondays with each adult entrée purchased at both Omaha locations — 7555 Pacific St. and 380 N 114th St. Dine-in only. Additionally, both locations have Magic by Joe Cole from 6 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday at the 114th and Dodge streets location, and every Saturday at the 75th and Pacific streets location (except during Husker football night games).
Kids 12 and younger eat free on Thursdays with the purchase of an adult entrée at all locations.
Kids eat free with an adult meal purchase on Mondays. Ixatapa Grill is located at 3905 Twin Creek Dr. in Bellevue.
Kids 10 and younger eat free after 5 p.m. on Mondays. Kids meals are served with a kids pop and smiles (fun-shaped potatoes). Substitute potatoes for rice or a fruit cup. Julio's is located at 2820 S. 123rd Court.
Buy one adult entree and get two kids entrees for $.99 each from 5 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday nights at all Fazoli's locations. There will also be fun arts and crafts for kids 12 and younger.
Kids 11 and younger eat free on Mondays with a limit of two kid meals for every adult meal purchased. Spaghetti Works has locations at 8416 Park Drive in Ralston and 1105 Howard St. in Omaha.
Kids 10 and younger eat free with the purchase of an adult entree or pizza on Tuesdays. There is a limit of two per table, per adult meal. Villagio Pizzeria is located at 6922 N. 102nd Circle.
Up to two kids, ages 10 and younger, eat free per adult purchase on Tuesdays.
On Tuesdays, kids 10 and younger receive a free buffet after 4 p.m. with the purchase of an adult buffet at regular price at all Pizza Ranch locations.
On Sundays, kids 12 and younger eat free with every $12 spent. This is only offered at two Omaha locations: near 117th and Blondo Streets and 204th Street and West Maple Road.
Kids ages 12 and younger eat for free on Sundays with an adult meal purchase. Crave is located at 200 S. 31st Ave. in Midtown Crossing.
Kids 10 and younger can get $.99 kids meals with the purchase of an adult entree on Mondays. Quaker Steak and Lube is located at 3320 Mid America Dr. in Council Bluffs.
Kids 11 and younger eat free on Monday and Tuesday with the purchase of an adult entree. Millard Roadhouse is located at 13325 Millard Ave.
Kids ages 12 and younger eat for $.99 on Tuesdays and Thursdays with the purchase of an adult meal at all of their locations.
Cheeseburger in Paradise hosts Kid’s Night Tuesdays where kids get a free kids meal with the purchase of an adult entrée. Cheeseburger in Paradise is located at 17304 Davenport St. in Omaha.
Kids ages 10 and younger eat for free on Tuesdays from 4 to 10 p.m. Two free kid’s meals are available with each adult meal purchased. Denny's is located at 3520 S. 84th St. in Omaha.
Kids eat for free on Mondays and Tuesdays with a purchase of an adult entrée at all Village Inn locations.
Every Monday night from 5 to 9 p.m., kids 12 and younger eat for free. Summer Kitchen Café has locations at 1203 Cornhusker Road in Bellevue, 12010 Giles Road in La Vista and 1130 Sterling Ridge Dr. in Omaha.
Kids ages 12 and younger eat for free every day from 4 p.m. to close. One free kid’s meal is available per adult meal purchased. This is offered at all IHOP locations.
Kids 12 and younger eat free after 4 p.m. with each adult purchase Monday through Friday. Paradise Bakery is located at 120 Regency Parkway and 17305 Davenport St. in Omaha.