I suppose you could say that I’m still trying to figure out this life work balance thing. Our week has been ... muddy. I can write this now with a smile and a chuckle but at the time of muddiness, I could do neither. I’m someone who loves to laugh, though, so I knew that I would find it humorous eventually. I mean, how seriously are you supposed to take the antics of your children?
They’re a mess (Southern saying)
The girls and I get home from our daily “kid transfer” (I meet Durk at his workplace so he can be at work on time and take the kids from there). We go inside and as I begin to go into the kitchen to get dinner started, the girls run around for a moment and then go outside. I can hear their little voices, their imaginations in bloom. You can’t help but smile at that sound. So, I continued to prepare and cook our food, blissfully forgetting that just because you can hear voices doesn’t mean that you can hear everything …
At some point, they came inside. I had called them to dinner and they came (the first time—very BIG deal) quickly. We ate, we finished up any homework they didn’t have time to finish up with Daddy, we went upstairs to get PJ’s on and read books. They had gone into their room to change and I went into the bathroom to get their tooth brushes ready. Behold! The things you don’t hear—dirt all over the floor, a white towel that was no longer white because it had been used to clean whatever had so much dirt on it. A bit of darkness caught my eye in the tub and as I pulled the curtain back to look, there was the rest of the back yard.
I probably looked like one of those cartoon characters whose heads are about to pop, steam blowing from each ear. All I could think was “I was so grateful to only have to concentrate on cleaning up the downstairs and now this.” The girls were sad to see me so upset. But in their minds, they thought they’d done me a favor by cleaning up their dolls, which they had buried (Phoebe’s idea, Maddy said). I thought, I have boys! I can say this with some authority. After all, I’m the oldest of four and the only girl.
The girls (okay, it would have been trucks in the mud if they were boys) now understood that we don’t clean caked mud and dirt inside the house. So, the next day, we get home and I begin to cook. I hear a scuffling outside and I hurry to check on them ... they are carrying a big bowl of water outside. The dolls were already buried, I could see them in the back yard, their doll heads sticking out of the ground. I said, “Oh, are you going to wash them outside?” “Yes Mommy” they respond sweetly. “Thank you girls!” I say enthusiastically. I thought, they’re really listening.
I go back to finishing the cooking. At some point something tells me (but not soon enough, thanks a lot little voice in my head!) to check on the girls. The food was practically done so I thought, yeah, I need to get them inside anyway to eat. I go out to the back porch and stop dead in my tracks. There they are—in their school clothes, white shirts, navy (thank God) and tan (oh well) pants, covered from head to toe in Tennessee mud. When I say Tennessee mud, I mean clay—that’s what we’ve got here. The Brown girls were really brown and all I could see was red. I told them to line up on the grass, got the hose and washed ‘em down. They LOVED it, of course. No real consequence there.
I will just have to make sure they change into “play” clothes after school. You know, the ones we can’t get the stains out of—or hey they can use the clothes they wore in their mud fest. That’ll work. Not too much money lost.
Women use mud masks to slough off dead skin, clean out their pores, revealing lovelier looking skin. Maybe that mud bath did my girls some good. A few days later, they swept, scrubbed, washed the back porch (oh yeah, did I forget to mention they had redecorated our back porch with TN clay?) It looks nice again. There was some motivation … they found out their friends were coming over on Labor Day for a cook out.
And, personal admission, as I was sharing this tale with my Mami, I remembered playing in muddy puddles in my overalls in the rain after my grandmother had explicitly said I couldn’t (I had obviously set a precedent of loving to play in the rain). I tried to remember what I was thinking at that time in my life and realized although I wanted to obey my grandmother, I also had felt a GREAT JOY playing in those mud puddles. I want to remember that. The next muddy day, I will remember how truly beautiful it is - before the mud and after.
Okay, gotta go—I hear a clattering and a chattering—blogging isn’t as good an excuse as cooking is it?
You’re on the road
But you’ve got no destination
You’re in the mud
In the maze of her imagination
You love this town
Even if that doesn’t ring true
You’ve been all over
And it’s been all over you
It’s a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away
From U2’s It’s a Beautiful Day