A few days ago I told a Mom who has teenaged children about Rafael's picky eating, and she said: "You know what I think kept my kids healthy when they were little? Getting outside every day no matter what weather we had. Even if it was pouring rain, we put on rain coats and boots, and got out into nature."
This made me smile, because it's exactly what we do. Unless one of us has a fever, we are out in the woods every day, jumping in puddles, building stick forts, looking for mushrooms and salamanders, and balancing on fallen trees.
My floor is covered with little leaves, burs, and bits of earth just hours after vacuuming, but it's part of the deal. My son and I get ticks, bruises, wet toes, and mud in our hair. That's fine.
Recently I had the opportunity to sign Raffi up for daycare, and I considered it for a few days. I thought about what I could do with the time he would be there...creative projects, exercise, gardening, photography. I considered what it would mean for him: learning to integrate into a group of children; learning to be apart from me for longer periods of time; playing with children and making new friends. I wondered if he would eventually get bored staying home with me and if I was possibly keeping him from socializing with children his age.
Then one morning we were out in the forest, lugging big sticks for a fort, when I stopped to show him a cluster of mushrooms. As he knelt down and began asking a plethora of questions, full of enthusiasm and curiosity, I finally made a decision. He would stay home with me another year.
I was reminded that this opportunity I have, staying home with him, able to raise him and spend time with him, is so incredibly precious. There are many years ahead when he will learn what teachers and other children have to teach him. Until then, nature and I have quite a bit to share with him.
I had a silent, inner dialogue with my son...saying to him, "These years are for you. I am dedicating them to you." And it felt so, so right.