The Gift Of Untamed Family Life

Day Parenting

When we left our home two short months ago, winter was just beginning to relax her icy grip, with tiny green buds bravely appearing on our old plum tree. But, in our absence Mother Nature has stirred from her annual hibernation, gifting us with an explosion of green that never fails to humble nor amaze.

Something else happened, which mesmerises me, capturing my heart and imagination. And I’m not the only one either, as I stand on our deck watching my little man lose himself in the wild meadow which has overtaken our backyard. Giddy with joy, he can’t shake his excitement at the wilderness birthed in our absence. With nobody to tame our lawn, it has transformed into a west coast wonderland brimming with dandelions, toddler-high grass, ladybugs, hummingbirds and grasshoppers.

It’s suddenly cohesive; garden bed edges seamlessly blur into the wild grass, becoming one being rather than a series of individual mismatched features. I’m struck by the raw authenticity, simplicity and beauty of our green space as it bares all, revealing it’s true and unapologetic self.

A sense of calm and relief washes over me as my son, peaceful and happy, rediscovers the home he’s been longing to return to.

And I can finally stop and let out a sigh of relief, humbled and protected by the lushness at my feet. I’m utterly spent from our time on the road, with no reserves left in the tank. Working from the other side of the world for the last two months has been an incredibly positive experience but the non-stop, minute to minute planning has taken its toll on me. I feel as if I only just managed to claw my way to the end, and now could just lay down in the long green grass and hibernate indefinitely.

I feel safe in our secret garden, the heaviness resting on my shoulders melts away as nature envelops and rejuvenates me. I could learn a lot from our untamed oasis; I’m inspired to reflect on how consciously I attempt to lay the course of our day-to-day lives, while somehow fitting the countless puzzle pieces of my life together.

As mothers, we constantly endeavour to meet the needs of those we love. Sometimes I feel like our family’s micro-manager; making certain everyone has eaten, teeth are brushed, noses are clean and sleep is banked. I’m forever trying to help our day run smoothly; after all a sleep-deprived toddler is a terrifying ticking time bomb.

But, if I’m being honest, it makes me feel like a good mother, as if I’m living up to an imaginary expectation.

I do tend to follow a child-led approach to parenting, which by its very nature, if I’m getting too meticulous helps tip the scales back into the realms of spontaneity; often finding myself on unexpected adventures with my curious explorer. And as I reflect now, those are the moments I treasure most, when we’re relaxed without structure imposing on us. Those are the moments I’m happiest; revelling in the unique magic my three-year-old creates. And those are the moments he’s happiest; when his mum is fully present, iPhone free and captivated by his wild creativity.

I imagine looking back on these days in decades to come and know I won’t regret missed bedtimes, messy kitchens or pyjama days. Because it will mean we were too busy having fun to worry about perfecting domestic bliss. It will mean we welcomed a little wildness into our lives so edges of our days and nights blurred into each other without rigid lines clearly defining them.

It will mean we were so immersed in the moment we lost track of time and all that mattered was being together, laughing and forging memories.

What prevents me from doing it more is when I allow the puzzle pieces of my life to simultaneously tug me in opposing directions, rather than flowing seamlessly together as our garden now does. It feels like an impossible rhythm to find at times, but when I go with it rather than against it, it flows with ease. When I loosen the reigns, throw our plans out the window and see where my little boy takes me on our wild ride I’m happiest; the flowers flourish and life blossoms abundantly.

Of course, somebody needs to chart the course so life doesn’t get too crazy but there are pockets of time in our days and weeks where we can surrender and let our families flow naturally; allowing the journey to be more important than the destination.

Our wild meadow, healthy and free, challenges a truth I’ve always taken for granted; I revel in the opportunity for self-growth outside of the normal boundaries of Western life. Maybe we never need to cut our grass again?! Realizing we can exert our individual free will, in everything we do, is liberating and keeps life interesting. And softening our approach, embracing a little chaos and giving ourselves the freedom to follow our children’s leads may create something better than that which we ever thought possible.

  • Avatar
    March 27, 2018

    You should read Of Woman Born, by Adrienne Rich. The imaginary expectation that we all try to live up to might not be so imaginary after all

  • Avatar
    December 13, 2019

    As a curious anecdote, a parallel maybe: meadows thrive on regular browsing when it has reached a certain level of growth otherwise it doesn’t grow back well. But not so much being eaten, as being trampled and fertilised as big animals move across… Far from our tidy lawnmowing for sure!

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