Do you remember when the snow would begin to melt and you found yourself eagerly searching for an exposed puddle of cool mud to get stuck in so firmly that when you pulled, your foot shot straight out of your boot, and it made that amazing squelching noise as you slowly heaved your boot up out of the mud again? Those memories are so tangible that I find myself absentmindedly grinding my teeth in total satisfaction when that squelching suction noise is relived in my mind.
I have one clear memory of playing in the baseball field with my brother on the most perfectly muddy spring day. There was still ice in the grass of the field, but the thawed, sanded and dirt sport field was just the right consistency to make the most suction-ey mud you could ever hope for. He and I got our boots stuck a few times for pleasures sake and almost went back home again to clean up, because everyone knows you're not supposed to come home covered head to toe in mud. But we couldn't help ourselves. I don't remember if it was he or I that took one more step and landed our exposed sock into the ground by itself, but it was the tipping point of our mud filled ecstasy.
We stomped, threw, buried and balled our hands and feet into the mud every way our 7 and 9 year old minds could think of. Maybe it was only a few minutes, or maybe it was actually the hours it felt like, but the joy it brought to our hearts was strong enough to make us forget during the walk back up the hill to our house, that our mom would take one look at us and ground us for a month.
Tried to wipe some of the mud off in little dirty remnants of snow as we walked home, anxiety setting in as we opened the door and called for mom to maybe bring us a towel, I was fit to burst as she walked up and took that one dreaded look at us we were waiting for...... and burst into laughter.
I didn't know, was she laughing at the scared look on our faces, the mud from foot to head, or the exhausting thought of even more laundry to do (5 kids, sorry mom!). I stood along side my brother after one of the most satisfying moments of my childhood and my mom was laughing cheerfully while asking us to take our clothes off and run up to the bath. Someone pinch me. No scolding, no shame, no big deal, just an extension and perfect comforting conclusion to that perfect day.
Amaya asks, "Mom, is this a mud day or a no mud day?". Sometimes we say no; if there are big plans, lots of errands, or frankly I just can't handle the towering laundry load of the week, but most days she hears yes.
Say yes more if you can.
Yes to joy.
Yes to dirty.
Yes to encouraging play.
Yes to squelching noises.
Yes to supporting exploration.
Yes to being okay with mostly always stained clothes.
Yes to dirt trailed into the house up the steps and into the kitchen, living room and, oh shoot, scratchy sand in the bed sheets again.
Yes to mud pies.
Rinse off bulk mud with a freezing, shrill-scream inducing hose, strip down on back porch, hand rinse clothes in kiddy pool before laundry, shower kids and strain collected sand from bottom of tub then soak in bubbly bath while you dry the wet back stairs. Make macaroni or a frozen pizza for dinner because you just spent an hour cleaning mud. Look at their happy faces and remember yours when you were little.