Thursday, 10 November 2016

falling in the mud at big hill springs

11 / 02 / 2016


We recently took a trip to Big Hill Springs Provincial Park, my favourite place to visit when I want to escape to somewhere quiet and just be with my daughters. The best thing about Big Hill Springs in the waterfalls that run alongside the path. It reminds me of the West coast, where I'm from, and I think that might be why I love this place so much. We go on weekdays so the girls can explore freely and breathe nature in, but on this particular day the park was so muddy! The snow that had fallen earlier during the cold spell melted with the warm weather we've been having, so Juliette and I marched around with an inch of mud stuck to the bottoms of our boots most of the time we were there.

Juliette is usually obsessed with throwing leaves and sticks in the water and watching them float down the waterfalls, but after visiting the Bow Station Habitat last week her latest obsession is fishing, so she kept dipping sticks in the water, trying to catch a fish. She talked about fishing with her Dad last summer in New Brunswick, sitting on the dock, using bread to catch the chub. Listening to her chat about the Habitat and being with her Dad makes me realize how much she is soaking in from her experiences with us at this early age.

I am constantly using the experiences we have to explore new interests; I've got an insatiable thirst for information and understanding, which means that sticking to a task can be difficult in the best of times! The reason I enjoy being a stay-at-home parent is because it allows me to explore alongside the girls, to see experiences through their eyes, to watch them learn and piece together the world around them, and to have the time to do that for myself also. It is so important to me to help instil within the girls a passion for learning and assertive exploration. After listening to Brene Brown's Ted Talk on vulnerability and hearing her say "Our job is to look [at our children] and say, "You know what? You're imperfect, and you're wired for struggle, but you are worthy of love and belonging." So much of what she says is linked to our willingness to explore and try, and my sense is that if I let the girls challenge themselves to learn and let them fail, and let them know that failure is part of the learning process, that they'll be okay to keep seeking information and exploration, certain of our continued love and support. 

On our nature walk Juliette was determined on going the muddier route, so I let her. Sure enough she fell over and her knees got mucked up, but that was okay. I'd much rather her remember with fondness experiencing the outdoors with a mother who can say "Wow! That was a big fall, isn't the mud squishy? Let's wipe your hands off on that tree trunk" than being with one who agonizes over mud stains and having chosen to explore the muddier path. How will she feel confident to forage new paths if she feels cowed when she tries?

In thinking this, I can't help but consider what this means for myself exploring as an adult. Pushing along new paths. Being vulnerable to failure. Struggling. Learning. Continuing onwards. As children this seems so natural, but as adults we're seemingly weighted by responsibilities and a need for stability, making it so much harder to take risks and admit to failure, even when growth and understanding is the very minimal payoff. But why not forage new paths and let myself metaphorically fall in the mud every so often? Chances are I'll be able to get back up again relatively unscathed, understanding more about myself and the world around me.

I love these girls so much and want to be the best example for them, so I suppose challenging my imperfect self to try for greater things is part of this, even when it means feeling vulnerable. 

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