This post is the second of our grand prize winners of our big “For the Love of Mom” writing contest. I love this fresh and fun reflection by Rebecca. And note – she is one of our co-teachers for the Outdoor Mom Academy! Just a few more days to sign up!!!
Over the next couple weeks leading up to Mother’s Day, we will be sharing our winner’s posts. Please feel free to comment and share them – we can’t wait to see how they resonate with YOU!
A guest post by Rebecca Walsh:
I have a love/hate relationship with my house.
You see it was horribly neglected rental property for years.
It seems as though everyone knows our house and has a story about our house.
It had the reputation of being the most epic party house in town for decades and it shows.
As we were moving into the home nearly 3 years ago the locksmith told us that our house was once the scene of a drug bust and that police officers kicked down the front door.
Countless friends have told us that they once partied here as college students. One of them even admitted to starting our kitchen on fire during a party and then quietly repainting it without telling the Landlord.
We have a small carriage house in the backyard that has since been turned into apartments. Legend has it that a fry cook once lived there, and when he moved out there was so much greasy sludge left on the walls from his cooking experiments that a professional cleaning service had to be called in to scrape the walls and scrub the place clean.
Our house was built in 1924 and it wasn’t always a party house.
Our plumber mentioned coming to our house for a massage in what is now our guest bedroom once.
We’ve been told that music filled the home as piano lessons were taught here. We think that one time, maybe in the 1960’s, a family lived here. At least that’s what the two names scraped into the concrete pad on the back porch in sloppy children’s handwriting seem to indicate.
My husband and I purchased this house because we fell in love with it’s charm and believe that it has “good bones.”
When we moved in we liked the thought of fixing up something old rather than purchasing something now.
That was until we started ripping walls apart, doing a deep clean of the interior and trying to tackle the disaster that is our yard.
You see our former careers as Army Officers left us jumping from apartment to apartment and house to house as we moved all over the world.
While we believe that you can turn any place into a home having a place to put down roots (both literal and figurative) is important to us.
Now that I feel like I’ve settled into the inside of the house, I just can’t seem to pull it together in the yard.
I have visions of a beautiful yard filled with tulips and daffodils.
A vegetable garden with carrots, corn, tomatoes and squash.
Raspberry bushes producing berries by the handful and strawberries poking up toward the sun.
Instead my yard looks like this:
A sandbox, which my father-in-law spent two days building for my children sits empty, devoid of all toys. It has become the litter box for all stray cats in the neighborhood.
The very soil which I want to produce pumpkins and and zucchini looks like this.
It’s not for want of trying.
I’ve cleared the yard of decades worth of weeds and prickly overgrown bushes.
But for the love all things that are good in the universe I can’t convince my children that the sandbox is for digging, not my garden.
Instead, dump trucks, excavators and bulldozers litter the garden.
The dirt has spewed from the garden to the stone pathway that our tenants trek several times a day to get to their apartment.
I have no idea why my children filled their kiddy pool full of soil. Maybe they needed more space to play? Don’t they know that it’s for cold, refreshing water on a hot summer day?
Every once in a while my children excavate an old beer bottle from my garden, a reminder of this old property’s checkered past.
Sometimes early in the morning, before my kids wake up I stand on the back deck looking down into the garden. I close my eyes and envision the roots of vegetables taking hold to the ground and produce sprouting from the land. I dream of my children sampling the raw vegetables as they play and feeding my family healthy vegetables that I planted and nourished all by myself.
Then I open my eyes and face the reality.
My backyard is a mess.
My children are a mess too. After playing in my garden they have dirt up their noses, in their ears, between their toes and even sometimes in their belly buttons.
Don’t ask about that last one.
But the truth is this.
Maybe there really is something special about this old house with it’s ugly backyard.
Perhaps the roots I’m meant to put down here aren’t that kind of roots that will fill my belly and the produce drawer of my refrigerator.
Maybe, just maybe the roots run a little bit deeper the I’ve realized and I need to really open my eyes to see them.
These roots won’t sustain us physically but they will sustain us as a family.
Planted deep down in the earth are roots that will solidify the bond that my children have as brothers forever.
These roots weren’t formed by my desire to have a perfectly groomed garden.
They weren’t formed by my desire to move all the toys over to the sandbox.
No, they were formed by years of unstructured, no-rules, and often unsupervised outdoor play.
When I get the urge to yell at my children to stop digging in my garden or head to the garden supply store to pick up a bag of peat moss I force myself to stop and realize that digging in my garden is the very best thing that my children can do for themselves and our family right now.
You see, it’s easy for us Mom’s to look at our homes and our families and want everything to be perfect.
We want everyone to think that we’ve got it all figured out and that we’re SO put together.
But we need to stop.
We need to step back and settle for imperfect.
No, we need to step back and strive for imperfect.
This Mother’s Day I’d challenge you to do just that, to encourage your children to dig up your garden and plant the kind of roots that really matter.
Rebecca Walsh is a blogger, podcaster, writer, small business owner and serial entrepreneur who also goes by the names, mom, Mom and MOM!!! You can find her at www.hikelikeawoman.net . She is also one of the teachers of the Outdoor Mom Academy! Registration for this session closes SUNDAY!
This post was written exclusively for Tales of a Mountain Mama in response to the For the Love of Mom writing contest.
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