"Mommy! We made mud soup! Come see our mud soup!"
He's way more excited about this than I am, but I stand up from my lawn chair on the deck and take his hand as he drags me down the stairs and to the pile of dirt, sticks, and wet grass that he and his sister have assembled.
There is mud everywhere. Literally. Covering their faces, up their noses, and between the surface of each and every fingernail. They beam at me, so thrilled to be outside in the fresh air - away from the confines of our house and all its toys, which lost their appeal back in mid-January when the lack of sunshine threatened to drive all of us mad.
"Do you want a taste, Mama? Mud soup is deeeeeee-licious!"
The bright sun is good for my heart, too. On a bleak day in January, I might have sighed with impatience at the sight of food scattered on the floor or the pieces of twenty puzzles dumped in one heap or snow trampled all over the carpet. But today? It's okay. This sort of mess isn't so bad. It's a beautiful mess, and it's our mess...and I kind of secretly love it.
Since the arrival of warmer weather, I've learned a couple of things. First, that my kids are going to literally live outside until it snows again. Second, that there is going to be a lot of dirt and grime covering just about every surface of my home. I've actually lost track of how many times I've swept the kitchen floor with my O-Cedar Angler Broom this week. And I pulled out the vacuum of my own free will last night. My whole family may or may not have looked at me like I was some sort of lunatic. Like, who is this woman and where did this strange noisy machine appear from?
My helpers are eager today. They spend every waking moment asking "can I help?" or "what can I do, mommy?" This isn't going to last forever. In a few years, I'm going to have teenagers on my hands - and at that point, they (probably) won't be responsible for tracking mud into the house thirteen times in one day. They'll remember to take their shoes off at the door (most of the time), they'll brush dust off their jeans, and they'll hopefully have a decent grasp at what it means to throw away their own trash. They'll be semi-responsible young people, on their way to adulthood. But at the same time, they'll be a little more interested in their friends than their mom who may or may not be wearing the same shirt as yesterday. They'll ask me what I will do for them - not what they can do for me.
I don't want to reach those years - not so far away - and look back at today with a longing that I had smiled instead of scowled, chased instead of chided, or tickled instead of turning on the television.
I know it's inevitable to some degree. Kids grow up - regardless of how hard we mamas hang onto every little scrap of childhood that we can. But maybe...just maybe, if I let them help me now - every time - there's a greater likelihood that in ten years, they'll still want to spend time with me. And while making mud soup may be a little beyond their comfort level, I'll be down for a muddy water fight. I call dibs on the hose.
How are you celebrating the beautiful mess in your life?
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