May 1, 2010

When "We Time" Trumps "Me Time"

It was one of those days that I dread. The kids are misbehaving, we’ve had a particularly long and tiring weekend, everyone is whiney, and mostly everyone, including me is out of sorts. It is one of those days when I call my husband to request that he “leave on time” instead of being late; It’s really his long commute that is the challenge, if he doesn’t leave on-time, he arrives home almost at the point where the kids are getting ready for bed. This leaves me with little to no daylight hours. Typically I want to get to bed at that point as well.

On this particular sunny 65-degree afternoon in April, I decided I wanted, no needed to walk the woods in search of the elusive morel mushrooms that should be beginning to pop up. That’s not to say I am an expert hunter, frankly I’ve never found or even tasted one, it’s really just the process of walking throughout the quiet woods “in search of” – I really don’t even care if I find one, but getting out into the quiet woods can be therapeutic after a rough day.

At 5:30 the phone rings. I can tell by the area code who is calling and dread picking up the phone. It is my husband. He tells me he’ll likely leave a little later than 6:00 – Which means he gets home when the kids are getting ready for bed. There goes my walk.

The kids hear my discussion with him and insist they want to go for a walk. The woods are just too alluring to little people! I really don’t want to take them, however after some careful consideration I dress everyone in jeans and rubber rain boots and saddle up with all the necessities needed for the adventure. I figure at this point, if this is the only way I’m getting into the woods means taking them, I will acquiesce.

My latest favorite spot is close-by. Really we could have walked to it, however I know that would then prevent us from walking IN it. So we drive the mile and a half to the small dirt-covered parking lot which after our rain resembles a pig trough with an abundance of mud-puddles. The kids love this and dive out of the car to splash amongst the water bugs and mud sending sprays of muddy water in every direction including onto my face.

The park is mostly a mountain biker heaven, with dense wooded trails that have been cut among the trees; however I love that there is an abundance of wildlife and a diverse eco-system. I know that we can walk into wetlands, open fields, thick pine trees, on meandering paths along the pond or even among the towering hardwoods. This specific day however I had a plan of attack and two semi-willing accomplices.

As my children scurry ahead on the trail, splashing in every puddle along the way I smile. It was really a small smile, but it was like a sigh of relief or a breath of fresh air if you will. For some reason, as we veer off the path into the denser wooded area, my children become convinced that there are bears or other unforeseen monsters lurking nearby, ready to snap them up. This makes me laugh. Some careful cajoling on my part and the act of re-direction are put into place to change this however.

“What do you think the moss feels like when we step on it? What about when we touch it, is it soft?”

“Look at that interesting plant over there, it’s called a Jack-in-the-Pulpit.”

“Did you see that pretty moth?”

Before long, I am really enjoying myself. The air feels fresh and green in the muted forest. Muffled car engines can be heard driving along the nearby road; those noises however are drowned out by the birds singing and the snapping of twigs as we walk.

Then came that one special moment, the moment where we stepped into a bright forested area with a plush green carpeting of moss. I instantly though that if we looked hard enough we’d find magical toadstools with fairies fluttering by. The smells. The plants. And more importantly the moment in which we stood reminded me that having “me time” is important, however moments like this with my children are too precious to miss.

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