i had every intention of doing something grand with it -- at the very least something pleasant or pretty. we have this side section of yard which has been left unattended since we moved in almost 5 years ago. it is on the far side of the house, so it wasn't hard to ignore. not to mention there have been plenty of other things to keep us busy in our home needing everything. but all along i've had plans. i've thought about a shade garden or stepping stones or an ivy planted path. i've, at the very least, considered fresh pinestraw and a few shrubs. something better than the unkept portion of yard that it is hidden from our view. every so often i would walk over to it and kind of stand and stare. wondering when there'd be time and money to address its pitiful state. wondering if the neighbors minded our neglect.
but my boys got to it first. last night, while out watering, i turned the corner and found remnants of ramps and mud and a whole lot of mess. i didn't have to wonder who had done this. my boys abandon pieces and parts of themselves wherever they happen to wander. they leave evidence. they had clearly been in this side yard and they had built themselves a "mudding place." surprisingly, i don't happen to know a whole lot about mudding places, but i guess this is where you (if you are 8 or 13 or male) clear the ground of debris, soak it with the hose, and then ride your bike or ATV through it a thousand times until the spot looks like chocolate pudding. it did. the secondary goal is kicking up as much mud as is humanly possible. but the main goal, the primary goal, the ultimate goal is covering your boy body with this mud. much mud. so much mud.
i am proud to tell you my boys were tremendously successful in their mudding. i saw evidence of it on their bikes and shoes and laundry the day before and had wondered about the tire tracks in the garage. i wondered about the pile of clothes dropped before the washing machine. now i knew. my side yard was a mud pit with a couple of ramps and not sprig of ivy anywhere to be found. no ivy, nothing green. just brown.
as parents we give up some things, don't we? i learned years ago i'd be required to give up pristine and picturesque. i mean i could kill myself trying, but it wouldn't be worth it. i want my kids to value where we live and how we live. i want them to have a sense of pride, a sense of doing things well - doing them right. i want them to be civil and clean cut and tidy enough -- picking up after themselves and leaving things better than they found them. i want that. i'm even fairly certain this kind of training is in my job description. but i know it's a process. and in the process we have to live and breathe and be muddy. sometimes really muddy.
and we might have to give up continuously clean floors or uninterrupted sleep or showcase garages. but we get a whole lot more than we give up. since entering into motherhood 15 years ago, i have had to let a few things go. i've had to uncurl my fingers from some stuff. stuff i was holding too tightly anyway. it is good for us to let go every now and then. i have found, it can lighten the load.
someday i will have a delightful side yard full with stepping stones and ivy and maybe even a stone bench. it is not time, however, for that stone bench. if i was to place it in the yard today it would only become part of a ramping system. my boys and their friends would be jumping their various vehicles off of it's quaint stone seat in a heartbeat -- because that's what they do. they do this with bunk beds and bean bags and couches. we, just this summer, replaced tyler's futon because of jumping teenage boys. i stood in the line of ikea and wondered, "why in the world are we replacing this?" it could very well be broken again by next summer. next week. mother sigh.
we bought a trampoline years ago (best purchase ever, by the way) thinking that would help. it does -- a little. but it is not nearly enough. jumping is who they are and how they relate. they jump and they get muddy. and with this comes breaking things and tracking in things. and i love it. not all of it. not everyday. but, for the most part, i love being the mother of two boys, jumping and muddy and all.
and this neat-freak mother will stand at her kitchen window or walk down to her side yard and she will watch. she may not necessarily want to join in, but she will watch her boys. she will watch them in their glory and in their guts and even in their gross. and she will think this is now. and it is good. because someday they will be clean and gone and there will be ivy and a stone bench in their place. but this is now. beautiful and muddy and now.