I remember saying with great certainty before I had children that I would never be that mom that let her kids walk around with knots in their hair and dirt mustaches. It’s amazing the declarations you can make when you have no idea what you are talking about.
These days, my kids often walk around with leftover lunch on their faces and stains on their shirts. The back of Everly’s hair can turn into dreadlocks in what feels like a matter of hours. We wipe them down, bath them nightly and yet it still feels like they are perpetually sticky and stained. It’s a part of their childhood that I’m learning to embrace.
Last night we went for a family walk in our little neighborhood park. The light was gorgeous, the grass was tall, and the evening bugs had started up their nightly chorus.
We collected feathers and rocks and curious looking sticks. We admired the flowers, played hide and seek and rested in the tall grass. I snapped some photos along the way and it wasn’t until I sat down to view them full screen on my laptop that I saw their sticky faces and dirty hands. I hadn’t noticed them at all as we had spent our time in the park. Over the years, I’ve just learned to look through the mess.
We wash little bodies, scrub stained shirts before they go in the laundry, and chase reluctant preschoolers with wet wash clothes in an attempt to look presentable before we go out. We give it a valiant effort, but we also don’t make excuses when we show up a little sticky and stained… because the reality is that childhood isn’t about being perfectly presentable. It’s about getting our hands dirty with adventure and enjoying dinner so thoroughly that sometimes it gets in our hair.
My children are constantly absorbing the world around them. Their manner of learning is so physical and tactile right now… it only makes sense that some of that “world” is going to stick to them along the way.
We played hard last night, brought home shoes full of grass seed and knees covered in dirt and then we put the kids in the bath for a nice long soak. We washed away the dirt with every intention of enjoying another wonderfully sticky, dirty day again tomorrow. That’s the beauty in all of this… the dirt washes away, but the experience remains.