I believe that it’s in the little moments of our lives that we discover who we are. Clarity often comes when the mind is so full that it has no choice but let it all go, lest it explode. That was me yesterday. I was feeling cooped up the house on a windy grey day and when my husband got home from work, I asked him for a drive through the woods. Near our home is a couple hundred acres of state land where trucks have made way, with mud holes, and trails that wind like snakes, so skinny that a Cadillac would barely fit. Along side many of these two-tracks as some call them, are ORV trails, for dirt bikes and 4-wheelers.
My husband grew up playing in these woods. His parents, living just around the corner where he lived most of his life, gave him the freedom to explore the woods nearby. Over the years he mastered the trails and he knows them better than most people around. As teenagers, it was where we would drive around, blaring rap music. Sometimes it was where we parked to make out. It is still one of the places we go to escape the world and to be with each other. Now that we have 3 kids, it makes it harder to just go wandering in the woods, because one of us is usually hungry, grumpy, or must poop in the near future. And I’m not going to lie and say that it isn’t sometimes me. But we still try, because that’s the only thing you can do with kids. Just try.
We got out of the truck while trailing, at Conor’s request. We parked in a small opening along the “road”, and the ORV trail was nearby. We started to walk up the trail, pointing out things for the kids to see and look at. I carried the baby and Aerie and Conor followed close behind us, occasionally stopping to check out an ant hill or moss-covered rock. After having the thought to check for Morels, I wanted to check out the patch of Popels growing up around a soggy stump in the ground, I handed the baby off to Matt who continued up the trail with the other two kids. I entered the dense wood, fighting branches and new growth ferns the whole way, scanning the ground for morel mushrooms. Where I live this is a popular spring tradition and past-time.
After finding nothing and chalking it up to being too cold and dry still, I give up and walk back through the trees to the trail. I see Matt nearby and the kids a short distance behind him, and I see Aerie, halted on the tracks, staring back where she just came from. I panic on the inside, knowing we have a local bear issue, and thinking maybe she was seeing something I couldn’t yet. until Conor says to me loudly, “Mom, she’s just peeing…. In her pants. No big deal.” Panic subsides, and another kind of worry takes over. Because our little walk was unscripted, we didn’t think to grab shoes for the kids, Conor had Crocs in the car, and Aerie only had her Easter dress shoes; tan Mary-Janes with rhinestones on the straps, and a chunk mini-heel. NOT hiking shoes. AND we have no extra clothes. I go to Aerie who I think is in shock, because she has been potty-training like a champ and hasn’t had many accidents. (I haven’t gotten to the whole, let’s just pee behind a tree thing yet). But here she is peeing in the woods and wants nobody to see her.
I pick her up carefully so that I don’t get pee all over me too, and one leg at a time start to roll down the pee covered leggings she’s wearing. Her shoes, full of pee. Like standing room only packed with pee. She’s standing in the middle of a sand pit in the ORV trail. I don’t want her to get upset so I keep talking to her, telling her it’s okay and to listen for birds. Mostly the noise is a distraction for me and for what I’m doing. There is a little dry spot on the pants, so I take her shoes off, dump out the pee and try to dry the shoes on the inside so that I can put them on her without chafing her feet. Sand and wetness in shoes is just no fun.
So here I am, miles from my house, in the middle of the woods, cleaning pee out of princess shoes with a 2-inch dry spot on otherwise pee soaked pants. I put the shoes back on her, and off she goes, bare-assed, running through the woods to catch up with her brother, in fancy shoes. I’ll never forget that flowy green and white chevron frill shirt, flying behind her as she runs. Her tiny little toddler butt, white and adorable, mooning Mother Nature. Her golden pony tail whipping back and forth, and her, with not a care in the world. Just as she is supposed to be.
Sometimes I get so caught up in making sure my life looks put together, that I forget that it doesn’t matter what my life looks like except to me. That it’s okay to have days where you don’t give a crap about anything except playing in the woods with your bare-assed babies and your smokin’ hot husband. These are the days that I will look back on and smile. These are the days when I re-discover who I am and why I am on this planet in the first place. Laughter. Love. Family.