Our new house has a 6 foot privacy fenced backyard. We refer to it as the outdoor playpen. The world cannot see or touch my children but I know exactly where they are. I love it because my kitchen window and living room patio door overlooks the backyard. I can some of my household chores done and still keep a close eye on the kiddos. And the kids love it. Hours are spent in the sandbox or chasing each other around the backyard. I’ve noticed a trend though:it mainly exists in my Anna. John and I determined yesterday that she is the closest thing I have to a “Mini-Me”. If you haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Anna, let me describe her personality to you. She is ferociously independent. You must watch that child! Doors must be secured, because “untethered”, she is completely unafraid to leave with or without you. At the park, there is not a dangerous “school aged play structure” that child will not attempt to climb. She simply “does not need you” until she is hurt, tired or hungry. She does, however, love her adults; be it her parents or one of the many adult friends she has deemed her own. She does not need you, but she will always welcome your company. And, I have learned one thing regarding Anna’s time in the outdoor playpen: if you are wanting to step outside to check on her, yet you still want to finish the dishes, do so stealthily… because Anna loves her adults. And she loves to “whee”.
“Whee”, in case you are wondering, is Anna’s word for swing and she can do it for hours. Yesterday, I stepped out to check on her for just a moment and she noticed. Joyously she ran to her swing. “Whee Mommy”. And in case you haven’t encountered a blonde haired, hazel eyed, chunky legged, short wearing toddler lately, let me tell you… it’s powerful stuff. There is absolutely no way to resist a toddler that is filled with hope that her Mommy has come out to “Whee”.
My poor Mommy, she raised me… Little Miss Independent. I was a good kid. I don’t think my behavior caused her too much pain. But, my independence did. I don’t recall asking many questions growing up. I asked them upon occasion and like any loving Mom she answered them. She guided me and directed me. She taught me to be kind, gentle, unselfish, giving, to have a strong work ethic. She taught me to “For goodness sake! Stop hitting my sister”. No matter how very irritating she could be. 😉 My husband greatly appreciates that I learned that lesson… She facilitated my introduction to my Heavenly Father, she prayed, she cried, she hoped and she dreamed for me. And I appreciated it all. But, I was independent. First in my “fenced in playground” and then in the great big world.
I turned eighteen. Shortly after I moved a few blocks away. I turned 19. I moved 2 and a half hours away. I turned 24 and God led me to move 15 minutes away… Because, God loves my Mommy. Oh, and John was there just waiting to sweep me off my feet. I got married. I moved 15 hours away. I had a baby. I stayed 15 hours away. The baby turned 18 months. I moved 8 hours away. And Grandma got to have more time with her grand kids. Then we had 2 more kids. And then we moved 3 days away… And I don’t see my Mom very often anymore.
I don’t “need” my Mommy; I’m independent like that. I think she wishes I did more sometimes. But, life’s circumstances have insured the fact that I stay independent. I do, however, “want” my Mommy. I want my Mommy for all the “whees” in life. I want to move Oregon just a little closer to Wisconsin so she can join in on all the whee’s with me…
I want to show her how when the sun comes out and the clouds roll away that you can actually see the snow capped mountain peak from our front yard if you stand on just the right corner. I want to ride off with her to the beach and show her how Josiah loves to jump the waves and Sarah and Anna cover themselves in sand. I want her to see how Anna talks better than most two and a half year olds I know, Sarah draws pictures all day long and comes up with the most creative stories and Josiah spends his days sketching up new inventions in his sketchbook.
I want her to understand just how dramatic Sarah is! How ornery Anna is and how infuriating Josiah’s slow moving nature can be. I want her to see just how much they love the puppy, just how kind and thoughtful they can be and just how much they’ve grown and learned.
There’s times it would be nice to have her close because I “need her”. Like the days when the kiddos are driving me crazy and I really just want a 2 hour break because I know if she was free she’d come. Or on the days when I have a raging headache I know she’d make us dinner because my mom is kind and sacrificial. But, I don’t want her for my needs. I want her for the “whees”.
I don’t remember every detail of my childhood. I’ve never been good at that. But, I remember my Mom packing us up in the car and taking us someplace, anywhere at all. Whatever struck her fancy at the moment. And all the time the conversation went like this: “Where are we going Mom?”
“I don’t know. Bananas! You want to come along?”
I absolutely do. Mom, I’m anxiously awaiting the day God brings you into my backyard so we all can “Whee”. But until then I hope these pictures bring a little “whee” into your day.