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Get Dirty and Dig Up Memories

It seems that whenever I leave the city to hole up in the country, I learn some of my most simple yet profound lessons on parenthood. On one rainy day upstate, I was excited to lounge around in comfy clothes and sip tea.

What I didn’t anticipate was how much my then almost two-year-old, Micah, would still want to play outside, even though the rain was coming down at a pretty steady pace. My first reaction to his pleas was, “We can’t go out today—it’s raining!” But then I realized how silly that was. It wasn’t a monsoon, after all. What’s the worst that could happen? We get wet!

So we put on our raincoats and sneakers and hit the wet hills. He quickly made his way up to the garden, which always warms my heart. Even though there aren’t edible vegetables in there anymore, he is still attached to it. When we arrived, he found a shovel and started scooping dirt from one pile to another. Sure enough, some dirt started to pile up on his sneaker. “No Micah," I began to say, "put the dirt on the pile not on your sneaker!” But then I paused. What’s the big deal if the dirt got on or in his shoe? So I quieted myself down and let him continue to have his moment in the garden. He seemed quite thrilled scooping up soil and getting nice and dirty.

From there we walked to our little pond to investigate if there were any ducks or turtles there (not likely in the middle of winter) and headed out onto the dock. We began to discuss what might be swimming in the water—fish, bugs, frogs? Being quite curious, Micah lowered himself down to his belly on the very wet, grimy dock so he could gaze more clearly into the water beneath us. Once again I thought of how dirty and wet he would be, but this time I didn't say anything. How could I deprive him a moment of curiosity? So I allowed him plenty of time to look, question and enjoy the raindrops slowly landing on his back.

When I allowed myself to step out of being a mom for a minute, I realized that the role of Mommy can become very utilitarian and mission oriented (must clean up, must feed, must keep things in running order). We tend to lose the ability to allow moments to be perfectly imperfect. We forget that disruption and dirtiness is how we explore, discover and, ultimately, learn. We might have a little extra laundry to do and a few more outfits to change. But I can only speak for myself when I say that I never want my son to feel like he shouldn’t explore his surroundings because he might be a little untidy or unkempt in the end. I want his life to be much more exciting than that.

I think we need to slow ourselves down sometimes. (I’m speaking to moms specifically because it seems that most dads have no problem with dirt and imperfection.) We need to let go of our routine occasionally to make room for the beautiful, unexpected moments, don’t we? I share mine to inspire you to make room for your own. Take a deep breath and enjoy the dirt with your little ones. Who knows what you might dig up?

Randi Zinn

Randi Zinn is the founder of Beyond Mom and Born from her own experience of motherhood, and the desire for a more connected community, Beyond Mom offers mixers, events and retreats for forward-thinking New York moms. She encourages moms to cultivate a life “Beyond Mom”—one that embraces the gifts of motherhood but expresses all that they are as individuals: creators, businesswomen, thinkers, friends and so much more. Randi has partnered with Comptoir Des Cottoniers, SoulCycle, Mio Skincare, TOWN Real Estate, The Mother Company, Body Conceptions and IntenSati. Her writing has appeared in FitBump, Epoch Times and Well Rounded NY. She is a certified yoga instructor through Laughing Lotus NY and has taught since 2008.

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