Reawaken the Wonder This Summer
I could not recall the last time I’d felt the thrill and challenge of climbing a tree. My son cleverly tricked me during an English lesson on commas. He wrote a sentence with three directions, and I foolishly committed to doing them without reading first. “Run around the house, do 10 pushups, and climb a tree.” Most likely this was a ploy to distract from his lesson. It worked. There I was climbing a tree, a feat I had failed to attempt for years.
As a child, my siblings and I would spend hours climbing. It didn’t matter the type of tree; if there were low enough branches, we would hoist our bodies up. Skinny, bruised knees and elbows scrambling up as high as our thin frames would allow. We’d come home with sap and twigs stuck in our hair and our eyes shining with adventure.
My father had fashioned a rope swing in one of the tallest oak trees near the back of our property. We would barrel hug the tree, precariously leaning our bodies out so our legs and arms could span the width of the tree’s girth. Reaching the outlying side, we’d position our foot in the rope’s loop, then with a knuckle-tight grip, fling ourselves off our perch. Experiencing utter exhilaration as we felt the drop in our bellies, the whoosh of wind in our hair, the freefall until the slack in the rope caught and would swing us back toward the tree once again. Oh, the rush, the thrill, and the joy are forever etched in my childhood memories.
I long for that again. I want to discover anew the wonder. This feeling more and more is returning as I live vicariously through my children experiencing life’s first moments. As I reawaken the awe of a butterfly’s wing, the intricacies of a mushroom’s gill or the joy of finding a Petoskey stone.
Motherhood can start to feel like a chore, a slog through mud instead of a blessing. Most days it feels like a constant battle to make little people bend their wills to our schedule. We become slaves to our children’s calendar that we ourselves filled up with activities and obligations. A race against the clock to be somewhere. Hurrying children out the door, paying bills, making dinner. Repeat. Anxiety, all the while, a constant companion.
So let me ask you: When is the last time you’ve climbed a tree, or dove head first in the ocean and felt a wave caress and lift your body, or squished barefoot in the mud and splashed in a puddle? Somewhere in adulthood I’ve become prone to watching instead of participating. Surviving instead of living.
Summer is here, let’s bring new life to our days. Emerging from the drudgery of responsibility, let’s seize this moment. Today, this week or this month, put aside the practical thoughts of all the dirty laundry and dinner preparations and to-do projects and surprise your children — and yourself — by jumping in a giant mud puddle. This summer, splash and swim in that water even if you just washed your hair or you don’t like the way you look in a bathing suit. Start your own rock collection. Hoist that beautiful body up, feel those muscles flex as you climb to the top of a tree. Try something again you haven’t done in years. Reawaken that child inside of you that has been sitting on the sidelines watching. GO PLAY!
Marian Fink, mother of four children, lives with her husband on their small farm in the country. She writes at her blog www.discoveringanew.com about faith, mothering and her family’s outdoor adventures camping and hiking in the beautiful state of Michigan. She’d love to connect on Instagram @discovering.anew.