In Praise of Muddy Puddles

My husband was on call this week, which means after a full week of work, he then worked all day Saturday and most of Sunday and then every week day PLUS every evening. Some nights he didn’t get home til 9 or 10pm.It’s tough on him, but it’s brutal on me, because by the time his on-call week finishes, he needs some sleep.

Normally we take turns sleeping in on weekends (he gets Saturday, I get Sunday) but after a week on call, because I’m a nice human, I usually give up my Sunday sleep, feeling all magnanimous and energetic, and convincing myself I’ll be totally fine. And then Monday rolls around and I realize I’m exhausted, and that I’ve totally screwed myself out of any chance at sleep and now have to suffer through ANOTHER WEEK.

The kids wake up stupidly early and my husband is up at 6am for work. So unless the boys happen to sleep past 6am – which they never do – I’m outta luck for any weekday sleep. (I should say they never sleep in except on the days Daddy is supposed to wake up with them. I swear he drugs them the night before because THEY NEVER SLEEP IN ON MY DAYS but always seem to make it til 7am on Saturdays).

Anyway. All that to say that I missed my sleep-in this week AND I actually missed it the weekend before for some reason which I’m sure seemed like a worthwhile one at the time but in hindsight was a horrible, terrible mistake. Full time momming with no break for over two weeks now has ruined me. I am not a nice person when I am tired.

I am a pretty relaxed mom and so my children are often making an awful lot of noise and playing with things they stole from the kitchen cupboards or somewhere else in the house. My son has a horn that he loves to play and it sounds like a woolly mammoth in labour but I let him run around playing with it because I have a great ability to tune things out.

Except when I am tired. And did I mention that today:

I. AM. TIRED.

The noise was getting to me. The constant smacking of his brother was getting to me. I was too tired to help the kids find something constructive to do and so they were doing all sorts of destructive things instead, to the sound track of the woolly mammoth crowning, and so I finally just said, “That’s it! Boots on! We’re going outside.”

I didn’t even know what we were going to do but I do know that being outside is always nicer because they can be as loud and as unruly as they want to be (sort of ) and none of it threatens to put holes in my walls. I really needed to shake the Nazi mom vibe I was giving off, which occurs when my children are annoying me because I’m tired and stressed and don’t want to be parenting. My usually encouraging tone turns a little sour, and my gentle and positive direction becomes non existent, and the only sounds that come out of my mouth are a string of demands spoken through gritted teeth: Stop making noise. Stop. Too loud. Slow down. Stop it. Shhh. Stop. No. Don’t do that here. STOP IT. Hey! No. I said stop it. Watch the walls. Watch your brother. Watch the dog. SLOW DOWN. Stop it. … (you get the picture).

So out we went.

At the end of our street they’re building a duplex, and right beside the lot there are some spectacular muddy puddles.

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Because I was trying to banish my Nazi mom persona and because I was too tired to give directions like, “watch out, it’s too deep there, stay on this side, blah blah..” I just let ’em have at her. No rain pants, no Muddy Buddys. I came to peace with the fact that they would go home soaked and muddy, and just stood by and let them be.

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M sat in the puddle on purpose, and then his little brother followed suit accidentally.

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Then M decided to attempt to lay down, which he did while E sat on the ground throwing rocks into the puddle.

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We got boots stuck in the mud more times than I can count and the boys loved it.

After about 30 minutes we headed back to the house. I didn’t escape entirely unscathed:

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“Mom, that was SO FUN!” squealed M. The delight in his eyes makes all the impending laundry seem insignificant. Clothes were stripped off BEFORE we went inside (I apologize to any neighbours who bore witness to that) and I sent the boys straight to the bath.

The clothes and boots and coats went directly into the washing machine (well, actually on top of it first, as you can see from this picture.) and I thought how lovely it is to stop managing kids and to just let them be. And how easy it is to lose Nazi Mom when you rid yourself of all distractions and just play.

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Of course we can’t do it all the time – sometimes we actually have to GO places where there are rules and expectations. And in the house there have to be boundaries or all hell would break lose and every window would get broken and that mammoth would never give birth. But if I learned anything from this experience, it’s that if you can find a time to just relax and let them go nuts, in a muddy puddle or somewhere else, it is so worth it.

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Plus, when you give them distraction free playtime, then you don’t feel guilty sticking them in front of the TV for the rest of the afternoon so you can hide in the kitchen with your phone and pray for bedtime. You win some, you lose some, right? šŸ˜‰

 

 

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