Have you ever stopped for a moment and realized that certain aspects of your life are totally different from how you imagined they would be? Or how you want them to be? I think that certain changes sneak up over time and before you know it, things you loved in your younger days are things you hate in your more seasoned years. And the thing is, that you may not really like the way things have changed. Ok, so maybe this is just something that has happened with me. Regardless, here's my story.
When I was a kid, even a teen and a little beyond high school, I was very much an outdoor person. I spent hours outside - from playing in the creek (or crick as we used to call it) to playing in the pool to just simply sitting in a big chair out near the wood line reading a book or watching the sun set behind the trees across the field. I loved being outside. Maybe it was because we didn't have computers waaaay back then to take up our time cruising around facebook. Maybe it was because we still had an antenna for television and got only 2 channels - on a good day. Maybe it was because I needed some sort of escape from my 3 younger brothers (yes, three younger brothers - c'mon mom & dad - you couldn't give me a sister? On second thought, that would probably have been worse...). Whatever the underlying reason, I spent a lot of time outside.
Now, not so much.
And the more that I think about it, the more I realize that I'm not happy with that. So, I thought for a little while. It didn't take me long, really, to figure out why. First, I got married. No, my husband or getting married weren't the actual reasons I stopped enjoying the out of doors. Where we lived after the wedding was a big factor though.
First, a little more background. I grew up in a fairly rural setting. We had neighbors, but they weren't super close. If you looked over at the neighbor's house, you had to have pretty good eyesight to see what they might be up to. Across the street from our house was a big - BIG - cornfield. Behind our house was "the hill." It wasn't really a hill. That's what we ended up calling it though. It was, in fact, a rather deep and wide ravine carved out by the winding creek (crick) that I mentioned earlier. Whenever we talked about taking the short hike down to the creek (crick) we said we were "going over the hill." On the other side of "the hill" (the ravine) was woods and beyond that was a wide open meadow. Beyond the meadow was more forest that had trails running through it that were actually part of an archery practice course that local bow hunters would use occasionally to hone their shooting skills. I spent a good deal of time "over the hill" and wandering the woods and the trails in the area.
So, back to our first marital home. It was in town. A somewhat busy but not too terribly huge town. We lived rather close to the downtown area. To our left was a house so close that you couldn't really walk between ours and theirs. To the right, another house, this one barely wide enough for a car to park there. Across the street (the street being maybe 10 feet from the front door) was another house and beside that another house that was only a driveway's width away. Our back yard was small - 20 feet by 36 feet approximately - and just beyond the fence at the back of the yard was yet another house with another close to it. When I went out into our back yard - besides feeling like I had no privacy - it was just unpleasant. Traffic noise, people noise, road dust, exhaust fumes, and a complete lack of shade made the yard a bright, hot, annoying place. There was nothing relaxing about it. We had 8 foot privacy fence around it so it often felt as though I was caged in to this little enclosure and since all the homes surrounding and including ours were 2 story, an 8 foot fence really didn't help me feel like we had any real privacy when we went outside. We had a bench on the front covered porch area and there was a small hedge, but when you are sitting just 2 feet away from where people are walking past on the sidewalk, well that's not so very private either. After a while, I quit going outside. Especially once we had central air conditioning installed.
Once we left our first home and came to our current place of residence, my reasons for shunning outside time changed. Where we live now it quite nice. There are a couple of industrial buildings nearby but the noise from them is minimal and they keep 9 to 5 hours. So our evenings are quiet enough. We live on a main road and at the bottom of a hill so we regularly get the sound of tractor trailers cruising past with their jake brake rumbling, but it isn't so bad. What keeps me from venturing outside now is --- bugs! Besides the industrial buildings and the main road, we also have a swamp land and creek fairly close to our home. This means tons of bugs - especially spiders which are my personal nemeses. We also get tons of mosquitoes which apparently have not been let in on the little secret of how insect repellents are supposed to work. Last year, while outside with the children, I got bit on my ring finger by some tiny little insect - pale white and wedge shaped. The pain and swelling I had were horrible and lasted for days - from a teeny, tiny little bug that you almost need a magnifying glass to see! Well, that was enough for me AND I certainly did not want my children to get bitten by one of these things, so inside we stayed!
This year, however, I really, really, really want to change. I want to be an outside mama. I want my kids to play in the dirt, catch fireflies & butterflies and sit on the lawn and make funny whistling sounds with a nice broad blade of fresh green grass. But can I change myself back to the way I was before I became a bit jaded by the unpleasant aspects of being outside? The answer is - I hope so. I don't know. I'm trying! I've done a few things to make it easier for me get myself outside. I built the Enchanted Garden for the kids and I've planted a vegetable garden. I've rearranged a few things in the yard to make them a bit more accessible and in the past week, I've spent at least a couple hours each day this past week either planting or tending to the gardens or sitting in my camp chair watching the kids play in the sand box or their garden or with their ring toss game & glow sticks. I'm making progress. I admit though, I totally freak out at least once every time we are outside when my all boy three year old says "Look Mommy!" while holding up a spider. Oh. Dear. God. Help me. I usually start yelling, "Put it down! Put it down! Put it down!" And he does, but still... My skin is crawling just thinking about it. *Shudder* But the point is, I am doing it. We are doing it. Slowly and with a little stress on my part, but we are slowly becoming a more outdoor oriented family. At least for the summer. We won't even get into how much I hate the cold weather.
Oh, and by the way, one of those stupid little pale bugs bit me again. Just yesterday. On the ankle. It hurts. But we still went outside today.