"O, to be sure, we laugh less and play less and wear uncomfortable disguises like adults,
but beneath the costume is the child we always are, whose needs are simple,
whose daily life is still best described by fairy tales."
It suits Millie and I just fine. We've spent most afternoons rubbing our eyes after naptime, then pulling coats and shoes from the closet to wander the neighborhood for an hour or so. Walter's eyes widen as he rides along in the stroller, watching everything above him. He usually begins to nod off until a bump jolts him awake again.
It was on one of these walks that Millie and I found the longest stretch of fallen red leaves, scattered on both sides of the sidewalk, looking as if the path was set on fire.
She walked carefully down the strip of concrete, not veering too close to either edge. I watched her navigate it with caution, and suddenly heard myself asking, ""Millie, can you run through the leaves?" She turned around, probably wondering why I would want her to do such a thing. "Can you go through and make the leaves crunch?"
I pushed the stroller to one side, and kicked my boots into the piles, sending a shower of red confetti up into the air. Millie looked at me as if I'd lost my mind. And then, her face broke into the most excited, devious grin. She began dashing through them with wild, dancing leaps. "Like this, Mama? Like this?" Whirlwinds of fall colors swirled around us. A jogger ran past us, smiling. We paused for a second while he passed by, then laughed as we continued feeling the crackles beneath our shoes.
You see, I'm the mom who believes in bibs. The mom who hates Playdough and finger paints. The mom who cringes at mud or spaghetti sauce-splattered shirts, dowsing everything in stain remover. The mom who enforces room cleaning before bedtime, a clean face after lunchtime, and please hold your fork over your plate for the love.
But on that walk, it felt so good to embrace the imperfect. To not stay on the sidelines. It felt good to simply not care- stomping, making a mess, and returning home out of breath and with a story. Because I won't remember it as the day I had to scrub our jeans a little more, or the time it took a bit longer to get back home.
I'll remember the time Millie and I made the red leaves spin 'round and 'round us, floating up and then down again. I'll remember, between her shrieks and giggling exclamations, the time I let go enough to make a memory.