I don't remember much of my childhood. I am a only child and my parents divorced when I was eight years old, after that I grew up with a really overprotective, borderline agoraphobic mother. I'm not going to straight out say that she ruined my childhood, but she pretty much did. I never got to experience all those "dirty" adolescent things that all the other kids did, I couldn't play school sports, I wasn't allowed to run around playing outside with my friends and we never went camping or spent any great deal of time outdoors. I made it my goal as I became a adult that I would experience the world more than I was ever allowed to.
I started small by working on adjusting my screwed up view of what having a dirty house meant. I began slowly cutting down my cleaning regimen. There's one thing to have a clean house and there's another thing to be consistently cleaning in order to have a spic and span house. I've learned over the years that unless you are in a hospital, nothing needs to be sterile. This is still something I struggle with once in a while. I need to allow myself to have some "dirt" in my house. I still find myself choosing to do the dishes instead of playing a rousing game of UNO with the kids. This is definitely a work in progress.
It took me a while but now I really enjoy playing out side in the dirt with my kids.This may sound like such a small task but when you grow up never doing this you find yourself thinking of this as such a strange concept. I actually felt like it was weird to be outside "choosing" to get down and dirty with nature! Now there's no hesitation and we spend our afternoons climbing trees, digging in the dirt, making mud pies and playing every out door game or sport that we can think of. I don't mind how "dirty" we get or how hard it is to get the grass stains out of our clothes because it's all worth it to me.
We never really took advantage of the camping and hiking opportunity's there were when we lived in Arizona. I just wasn't at that mentality yet to be able to get that "dirty", especially Arizona dirt, because it's basically sand and in my eyes that's way worse than soil. Hiking and camping in Maine came slowly, but surely. We started off at campgrounds where we rented cabins and had all the "luxuries" like bathrooms and camp stores, I still had a hard time with feeling "dirty". Eventually as time went on and we had camped more and more, we made our way up to Peaks-Kenny state park where there's still all those luxuries, we just stayed in a tent this time. One step at a time is what I tell myself, and as long as I feel my kids are getting all the experiences that a child should have then I am going to be happy with that.
My motto for my life is "Have no regrets" and this story is a perfect example of why. I have spent so much time blaming my mother for the way she raised me and the sheltered life she made me live. It took me years of trying new things and hating them all because I felt "dirty" and unkempt. I am so grateful that I could overcome this oppression that she put me through and move on with my life. I enjoy every single minute of the time I spend outdoors getting "dirty" with my kids. If I don't have grass stains and dirt spots on my kids clothing at the end of the day then I know we didn't have as much fun as we could have. I am by no means a extreme outdoorsy person and I am not even in as good shape as I could be, but it doesn't mean that I don't enjoy being outside and in nature getting fresh air and dirty.