The Mud Fight
Back when I lived in Minnesota, we had a house that was in a particularly low part of the area. This meant whenever it rained, we had this rather large stream running through the back of our property. Looking out from our house the stream ran left to right, it came out of the woods on the left, ran under the tree house, went in front of the garden, and ran into the woods to the right.
The real effect that the stream had was when it wasn’t raining, however. After any type of rain, you had to be very careful to avoid the muddy parts of the yard. Otherwise, you’d be running along, and all of the sudden your foot would vanish into the ground.
One day, a little while after a big rain, Mom had sent us out to weed our garden. The girls, my two sisters, had finished their areas a little faster than Daniel and I, and we were a little salty that they had finished and didn’t want to help us finish.
Finally, Daniel and I finished weeding. By this time, the girls had climbed up onto the tree house and were chatting about something. Daniel and I started walking back to the house. And as we were walking past the tree house, Daniel and I realized that we, at our feet, had an arsenal of weapons previously unknown to man. For we had what some might call the magic missiles, the who-flung-do, the sloppy-joe, we had mud. And we had it in spades.
The first Newkirk mud war commenced rather slowly. Rather underhandedly, with no formal deceleration or even a “heads-up!”, Daniel hurled a gooey gob of black mud and smacked Anne, with my follow up I managed to narrowly miss Eliana. Shocked, they turned towards us just as our second shots sailed up right into them. We continued hurling our ammunition at them with varying effectiveness. As our shots began to miss and hit the tree house, the girls would scoop up our shots and fire them right back.
Now Daniel and I were firing them as fast as we possibly could, bending over and grabbing two handfuls of mud, then flinging them upwards, with little care for accuracy. The girl were defending themselves with much vigor, hampered as they were with their limited supplies of ammunition. The fighting became intense, I suffered a casualty. My right shoulder was down, clearly I had pulled something. But with bravery, my left shoulder stepped up into the lines and I started throwing with my left arm.
And then, from behind us and to the left came a sign that we were to sign the peace accords. Breaking through the horrific violence, the slaughter, came my mother’s voice. The red haze dropped from my gaze, only to be replaced with a pit in my stomach. We were to come inside? Inside, the place of cleanliness and inside voices. Inside, the place where we studied our school work and ate as a family.
The girls climbed down from the tree house and we could truly take stock of the damage that had been done. All of our clothes were absolutely ruined. The girls’ hair, which Mom worked so hard on every morning, was in dire need of water. Our skin was covered with mud from head to toe. And our shoes? To this day I dare not mention the condition of our shoes.
As we trudged back to the house, I could already imagine what kind of trouble we were going to be in. We absolutely ruined our clothing. I thought, perhaps, that we were going to need to burn our clothing to decontaminate them from the chemical warfare that had been engaged in. Surely there was no saving them, and certainly there was no saving us. We were all in deep do-do and we knew it.
We came in through the garage, into the ironically named “mud room”. And there stood mom, in all of her terrifying majesty. Our combined forces had no hope to take her on. She could end all of our existences with a mere look. But instead of the tongue lashing and spanking that I think that we were all expecting, Mom began to take our shoes off and made sure that we could get to the shower without tracking mud all over the house. She brought us our towels from our rooms and changes of clothes. She rinsed our our muddy clothes as best she could and put them in the washing machine. She took our shoes outside and washed them out with water, until they looked almost brand new.
Mom, my mom, in short, was being the best mom.
It is little moments like these that I have really learned to treasure about my mom. She knew exactly how to manage times like these. And instead of punishing us for ruining clothing, or anything like that, she encouraged us to be kids. She encouraged us to be outside and run around and fight each other and learn how to be humans, full of life. We learned this day that it was alright to be carefree, that we could goof off and be ok. Our mother was going to be there to help us learn and support us.
Over our childhood, she sacrificed herself to home school us and teach us what we needed to know. She recognized my vociferous reading habit, and she provided me with a countless supply of books. She struggled in conjunction with my sister and her dyslexia. She drove us to all the soccer games. She did insane amounts of work to figure out how to feed us when we discovered that some of us had allergies to milk and gluten.
After having left home, it is only now that I am really able to appreciate her and all the work she does for the family. Yea, she might be grouchy sometimes, or frustrated with us, but that’s because we left all of the dinner she made on the table for her to pick up. That is because the house is a mess. That is cause she wants to share in that joy that we have found in our life and we are too stuck up to understand that she loves us.
Mom, I want you to know that you are not taken for granted.
You are loved forever
Happy Mother’s Day Mom.