Happy Wednesday, everyone! In celebration of the imminent arrival of spring, I thought I’d share a story. Now the details may be a little fuzzy — this particular event has taken on different meanings at different points in my life. But for whatever reason, the moment stuck with me.
When I was a little girl, I loved to explore. I loved to climb trees and trudge through mud. I loved to play by myself, to create fantastical storylines as I observed nature. It was the beginning of April. The snow had almost completely melted. The world was coming alive around me. There were buds on the trees and the air smelled dewy (if you know what I mean). I had these pink rubber boots I loved that I hadn’t had the opportunity to wear. I’d tried that past summer, but Mom said I had to wait for the appropriate weather (and they also might even have been a little big for me when I first got them).
The time had finally come to wear my boots. I started thinking about all the things I was going to do. How I’d step in every puddle. How I’d walk through mud. How I’d wade through the “pond” behind my house and look for frogs.
Now — a word about the “pond” (as I called it) because . . . well, that’s not exactly what it was. Although you could sometimes find frogs, it could be more accurately called a ditch. I was typically instructed not to play anywhere near it, especially when I was playing alone. But that day, I thought my rubber boots would open up a whole new world to me.
Right before I was set to leave, my mom said: “You know the rules. No playing near the ditch by yourself.” I was crestfallen. I’d been waiting (seemingly my whole life) to walk through water in my rubber boots.
I really did try to listen to my mom, though. I walked around the front yard. Stepped in some dry mud. Walked through a lingering snow pile or two. But after what must have been ten minutes, I was bored.
It couldn’t hurt for me to go to the pond, I thought. After all, I have my boots — Mom wouldn’t even know. Of course, I’d be very careful not to get dirty. And as I was contemplating this, I noticed I was slowly making my way there. I knew I’d have to take another path, though, since Mom could see part of the pond through our back window.
Sneaking around my mom’s rules was very out of character for me. I don’t know why I was so fixated this the idea of walking through the pond with my boots. My heart was pounding as I looped around my backyard to avoid being seen.
Then I was at the far end of the pond, just outside our window’s view. There was no one around, an uncommon stillness. I remember water rushing out of a black tube. There may have even been a little snow, so I had to be careful not to slip making my way to the edge. I was there. I’d disobeyed my mom. I had a sick feeling in my stomach, but I couldn’t turn back now. So I counted down from three. I took a step.
Next thing I knew, water was rushing into my boot.
Panic. The water had been deeper than I expected. As I stumbled backward, my foot slid out of the boot. My sock was in the mud, then in the snow. I reached back out to take my boot from the water. No . . . NO! There would be no hiding this from Mom. I was soaked up to my knees, and I’d almost lost my precious pink boot.
That loop back home was one of the longest. Each squelch as I walked brought images of my mom’s rage. I deserved to be punished. How could I have been so stupid? I should have known how deep the water would be. Life was punishing me for disobeying.
By the time my mom opened the door, I was sobbing. I told her everything, started immediately apologizing. And I guess it's her reaction that has stuck with me all these years. I thought she’d be furious, but she just sighed. Said “Melissa . . .” then sat me down and helped me get my boots off. I’ll never forget her grace in that moment. Maybe she figured what had transpired was punishment enough, that I’d learned my lesson.
I definitely had learned a lesson. I learned rules were in place for a reason . . . I learned my mom would love me through my mistakes. I still think about this moment every so often. I think of the fear I felt when my boot filled up. About that walk of shame home. About my mom's love.
What does springtime make come alive in you? Let me know in the comments below!