E is for explore… and exasperate. To Explore… means to traverse for the purpose of discovery, to look into closely, to examine, to search for or to search out. To live life exploring, is to live life with a different set of eyes, it’s seeing things newly, it’s watching things more closely, it’s discovering things you might have missed otherwise. When I use to hear the word explore it would conjure up images of young backpackers traveling to remote locations with a canteen, a knapsack and a sturdy pair of shoes. But now the word explore is a part of my every day life. We explore the mud between our fingers, we explore the way a lizard changes color when it moves across bark to leaves, we explore the movements of lady bugs on the top of our hands, we explore the way a stick sounds as it hits dirt, or another stick, and breaks. And despite my, “hurry up, hurry up, we’re running late.” routine, my little one never stops exploring his world and never stops inviting me to as well. I’m perpetually running 10 minutes late, but he’s finding frogs in our garden. I’m in a tizzy trying to get snacks packed, hot wheels picked up and dishes washed and he’s listening to the sounds of birds and telling me, “I think that’s a robin or maybe a chickadee?” He wants to know why the grass is wet in the morning, he wants to know what fog is, he wants to know why bats hang upside down and ostriches can’t fly. He’s curious and he’s a natural explorer. We raise them, but if we let them, they teach us so much… slow down, look closely, “Explore. Dream. Discover” –Mark Twain. And Exasperate… life is sweet, but a little salty too. Exploring adventures through the park or the backyard can sound like an idyllic dream of motherhood and little cherub children singing and dancing joyfully all day. Which is so not the case… at least not in this house. When you’re running 10 minutes late and your little on is trying to catch a frog and slips in mud and throws a fit because his shirt is now wet and when it’s all said and done you’re now 40 minutes late, well thats exasperation. When you’re home talking about fireflies and bluebonnets and ways to get to the moon and then you drive to mom’s group and your little one seems to have become possessed and fights over every toy and yells in other kids’ faces, “no that’s M-I-N-E!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”, well that’s exasperation. When you collected pine cones and leaves on your nature walk and painted with them and now it’s time for nap, I mean now it’s time for your little one to jump up and down on the bed screaming, “But I not tired. I not nap!!!” while banging a tambourine with a drum stick, well that’s exasperation. When you’re at buffalo bayou park and you climb on the explore sign and chase ducks, run up and down hills (well as hilly as it gets in Houston), dig in sand with sticks, smell wildflowers, fly like butterflies, walk across bridges, find turtles, make it to the playground to slide, climb, and make music, but you didn’t bring his scooter and he let’s you know exactly how he feels about it, well that’s exasperation. Motherhood is full of joyful moments, full of giggles and cheer, but it’s also full of tears (yours and theirs) and moments of doubt, of not knowing, of fear, of guilt, of being simply overwhelmed, of exasperation. And I know when I look back I want to remember it all, the peaks and the valleys because motherhood for better or for worse is full of both every day and sometimes every five minutes of the day.A Walk In The Park… I hope in all this if I’m anything it’s honest. I read and see and follow and talk to a lot of mothers. I know the joys of motherhood and feel them deep down in every fiber of my being, but I know the struggles too and I feel those just as much. For me it’s a constant balance, it’s acknowledging both, it’s seeking the joy without denying that the chaos exists. It’s, Ok so now we’re 40 minutes late, the plan I had isn’t going to work, so what can we make work now. It’s, crying and venting and laughing with the people who get it. It’s, some days a top bun and yoga pants and some days a shift dress with mud and snot stains, sandals filled with sand and wood chips and a panama hat he thinks provides a fun game to bump off your head. It’s knowing today we’re going to walk in the park and we may have some tears shed along the way, but I know we’ll have some giggles too and a shift dress with sandals is what feels great to wear today. Because shorts, yoga pants or a shift dress all work when traversing buffalo bayou for a little exploring. That’s the great thing about exploring… and exasperation you can wear anything for either occasion. And I love taking the basic elements of an outfit (tee, bottoms, shoes) and making it a bit unexpected, but still wearable. So why not explore in a retro hipster car shirt, oxford shorts, two-tone wayfarer shades and orange slip on sneakers. At least he looks adorable and hip when he’s kicking and wriggling on the floor shedding tears because your brought the shark water bottle instead of the dragon water bottle, because fashion doesn’t have to take a backseat even when it gets crazy. Exploring like life isn’t perfect, but it sure can be beautiful!“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” –John Muir. And it’s so true in nature and in life if one really slows down and takes it all in.