I’m sure we all remember the disaster that happened when I tried to ‘take the babies for a walk’ at 15 months old. I tried to find the link, but apparently my google ninja skillz are lacking when it comes to stalking myself.
This morning things changed. And were the same.
I woke up. Before showering, I cleaned in the bathroom (something I have never willingly done in 32 years). While still naked from showering, I was dusting behind the toilet. I boiled my mooncup. I folded laundry.
What was it? I think: Spring.
The sun is shining, it’s not cold. I decided to let them put on their new wellies (he wore pink and sparkly, she wore roadrunner orange and yellow), babylegs, and coats. No mittens, no hats, no sweaters.
I opened the patio door and we spilled out.
Last summer came flooding back to me – my children have been themselves since they were born, and they were behaving towards being outdoors just as they did last summer as tiny babies. Except now they were mobile.
Snort’s face split into a huge grin, joy was oozing from his pores. He took off running (thankfully towards the block of flats on our left, which is contained by a fence). He laughed the entire time. He looked back to make sure we were following and laughed more. Coconut laughed in response, and I stood there watching them run through other people’s gardens, look into other people’s patio doors, touch other people’s bikes.
Coconut ran to me with open arms and heart, and urgently handed me a leaf she had found.
Then they started back towards our flat and past it. You know, where there are no fences. In fact, the bottom of our garden has a threadbare hedge and a very, very steep drop into a huge green empty space. There are paths and mud and a little bit further along, if you turn the corner? Cars and dogs and cars.
I let them run.
And then Coconut screamed. We were on a thin strip of grass that sloped toward the drop. I whipped my head around to see my little 18 month old girl fall and roll. She broke through the hedge and continued to backwards summersalt while I immediately went into some sort of army pose, dropping down into the mud, shoving myself through the hedge (keep in mind, folks, it’s the week before my period and my ladybits hurt. And what you don’t know is that I had x rays to see if my foot was broken yesterday. Ha) and I somehow elongate my arm – probably dislocating it – as I reeeeeach for her and grab her arm as she is rolling down through fucking trees and undergrowth and heading towards what is essentially a straight cliff drop that’s about 30 feet high.
I grab her by the arm and just pull. She’s all covered in mud and brambles and is in the world’s most fucked up position, but I can’t really reach her and decide to just slowly and steadily pull her by the arm until I can grab her coat and pull her out like that.
Just as I exhale and pull her towards me – a potentially deadly accident averted, Snort falls. And rolls. A little voice in my head is like, ‘Are you fucking KIDDING me?‘ Luckily he hits the hedge and stops halfway through.
I basically throw them both clear of the muddy slope, and he runs round the corner. He begins to madly wave, and we see a little girl they know from storytime and her mum. I have a lovely chat, constantly interrupted by my need to grab someone from running into the road, run as someone disappears around the corner of the closest house (with an even bigger cliff behind, I shit you not!), etc.
Then Snort sees some lady brushing leaves off the path into her garden. He barges in, grabs her dustpan, and begins to do it. Coconut is quick to follow, grabbing a rake and marching around looking helpful and important. This lady doesn’t look like a psycho killer and knows the lady I’ve bumped into, so I outwardly relax and try to look normal.
You know, like I’m not covered in mud from diving down a cliff after my kid. Like I’m not wearing a whistle around my neck because I had high hopes of ‘playing a game’ AKA ‘training the babies’ to run like wild animals and freeze when I blow the whistle. Like I’m not wearing Crocs that match my socks and sweatshirt. Like my sweatpants are not ankle length floods. Oh, the horror.
I keep making weak jokes about how I don’t know if we will be able to get home. Despite now being somewhat near the front of our flat – though admittedly the road is an issue – I haven’t bothered to bring keys. So we need to negotiate the entire fucking obstacle course back to the damn patio doors.
It’s like that song ‘Going On A Bear Hunt.’ Except we’re dodging cars, pacifying dogs, being yanked away from climbing into someone else’s open patio doors, falling down a cliff, and dealing with the muddy lake that is our garden.
And you know what? IT WAS FUCKING BRILLIANT.
We’ve had kind of a bad week/month. My mom’s stroke. My foot. 25.00 in library fines (our fault, I know, but it still sucks ass and is indicative that this past month we’ve just been surviving, not thriving). We’re all sick. My pelvis is a little bitch. And TMD lost her job.
But in this all? There is still a day when the sun is shining, when you decide to throw open the doors and go outside even though you have NEVER had a ‘good’ experience being alone in an outside uncontained space one-to-two with your children since they learned to walk.
There’s still a day when someone you love falls down a hill. When you are running in all directions. There’s still a day when death and dismemberment are always only about 6.2 minutes away.
And it’s good. You do it because you want to, on this day, amidst all the chaos and confusion and worry and doubt that is your life.
Then when you come back inside, you still have the memory of his face as he runs across the grass. The feel of her hugging me, as I notice all the mud and twigs in her hair The joy and freedom of only wearing a sweatshirt because, out of nowhere, it’s warm. Or at least not cold.
It’s a good day. It’s good because you pick yourself up again and again – just like your children do. It’s good because even in the act of falling, of muddying, of exploring and running in every direction, you feel happy.