Growing Up is Optional

Having a child means creating, protecting, and nurturing a fragile new life. We are the foundation on which the rest of their existence stands. In order to be what our children need and provide the best possible beginning for them to grow into responsible, productive, happy adults, we, in turn, are forced to grow up.

Or are we?

Poopy diapers, sleepless nights, and endless teething go hand in hand with motherhood. Hardships are a given when you pop out a puppy--- or six. Being a mom isn't easy, and there are many days when you'd gladly give it all up for a bottle of wine and a night at the Chip 'n Dale; however, there are also moments that so fully outweigh the shitty ones that, in the end, they're all you'll remember.

When was the last time you jumped in a puddle, went trick-or-treating, or had a wild dance party in your living room? Can you remember the thrill of apple-picking, playing hide-and-go-seek, or making your dolls come to life?

I asked myself that a few days ago, and my answer was no. While I recall taking part in those activities, I can't drum up the innocent pleasure I know they once brought me. What saddened me most was that I can't remember when I lost that ability to freely enjoy life...and then I took Piggle outside.

As happens every year, around this time, the trees are shedding their leaves. While a leaf is no new phenomenon to the boy---who has eaten at least a bush-worth of them---encountering piles of them was. The instant he espied the colorful mounds, he made a bee-line for them, and who could blame him? Nature swiftly became a whole new ballgame!

As soon as I saw the plan formulate in his mind, a thousand memories came flooding back to me. Suddenly, I was a kid again, surrounded by the musty smell of perishing greenery and the crackle of the wind blowing dry leaves across the asphalt. The crunch of scattered branches and foliage under my feet became more than the routine sounds of autumn; it became the music that made up the soundtrack of my youth.

In that instant, I was no longer a bystander, watching my son romp in the leaves. I was just another child, wanting nothing more than to hold his hand and jump in as one. My mind raced back to a much simpler time, when my biggest worry was who would be the rotten egg...and so, I did the only thing that made sense: I challenged Piggle to a race and dove right in.

I have many dreams for my son, as I'm sure every mother does. I hope he knows the satisfying squishiness of mud between his toes. I hope he jumps Double-Dutch and kicks some serious preschool ass at hopscotch. I  long for him to catch frogs and skinny dip. I want him to eat candy until he pukes and experience the magic of tree forts. More than anything, though, I pray that he never loses the ability to be a kid. After all, what's life without frolicking in the leaves?

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