I’m generally a stay at home kinda mom. I mean yeah, I’m a “Stay at Home Mom,” but most days I actually stay at home. Why? Be cause I’m quite the home body. The stress of gathering gear and snacks and drinks and whatever extras the weather warrants at that particular time is rather overwhelming. Not to mention wrangling a toddler that does one of two things: demands I hold him the entire time, or expects me to allow him to run like a barbarian in all directions. In either case, it requires me to be an octopus with 8 arms. And if I have ALL FOUR with me by myself????
Oh. You can forget that business. Unless I’m feeling particularly masochistic that day.
But in my “it’s not worth the effort” attitude, I know my kids are missing out. I know it won’t ruin them or scar them for life to spend time at home. But I realize I’m also missing out on opportunities. Opportunities to participate in my children’s play. Opportunities to stretch my comfort zones. To demonstrate that being a well adjusted human being includes social participation. That sitting on the safe side of things will only get you so far. That discovery and wonder need not be exhausted in childhood.
It’s been a fairly dry winter here this year but the last good snow we had I woke up with a grumble. My house is roughly 100 years old with 42 drafty windows. I wear long johns underneath sweat pants, my fuzzy robe, and don a scarf and hat around my house all day when the temps hover and dip below freezing. It’s a very sexy look. (By the way, I am just very cold blooded. I prefer 80 degree weather, while the cooler weather has absolutely no effect on the rest of my family. They are perfectly content running around in the dead of winter without shirts and socks. Go figure.)
I grumble that I’ll be spending another week feeling like the Michelin man in my layers. With disdain I pull back the curtains and see a quiet winter wonderland of white that blankets the earth. And suddenly I am filled with childlike wonder. My mind quickly flits back to thoughts of awkward gear and layers and preparation and I almost bury that moment of childlike awe that I had just experienced. I think about how often I allow the details to squelch the awe. Isn’t it true that as a child, the journey to joy never mattered? The freezing cold water didn’t stop me from jumping into the pool for a summer day of fun. The long bike ride to the park never kept me from getting there. The mosquitoes and gnats never kept me from playing tag with the neighborhood kids all the merry evening. Why did I let the details, the inconveniences, steal my joy as an adult? Somewhere along the way I decided the ends didn’t justify the means anymore. Joy, no matter the effort, wasn’t really worth the energy. When did this happen? Between the diapers and dishes and spilled milk and broken crayons and stepping on Legos, I had lost my childlike wonder. And don’t parents deserve to share in that wonder?
Even though my sentiment toward exerting the effort didn’t magically change, I realized I needed to take a lesson from my child self and instead focus on the joy of the goal I’m after, and not bemoaning the details of the journey. And to allow the journey to be a journey in itself. An exciting one with plot turns and twists and full of adventure. Have you ever heard someone tell a fascinating and captivating story? It certainly wasn’t because they got up in the morning and went about their day without a hitch or glitch and then went to bed. While we all aspire to live life without a hitch, it would make for an incredibly boring story.
And so I commit to reaching for that joy.
For that childlike wonder.
I commit to seeing the magic of the snowfall instead of the endless layers and Michelin man. And I take a deep breath
“Kids!!!” I holler up the stairs. “Dress warm and get your snow pants, boots, hats and gloves on! We’re going sledding!”
I take another deep breath in and this time slowly let it out. And then I begin digging for my snow gear.
What have you done recently to bring back your childlike joy and wonder? Share in the comments!