When I was pregnant with Ava, I heard it time and time again: "You can't even imagine the love you're going to experience with kids. It's like nothing else."
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I get it. Of course I'm going to love my daughter.
And then she was born and in an instant I totally got it. Well, I thought I did... But I totally didn't. Each day that passes and each day that love grows stronger, I come closer to understanding that unconditional love everyone was talking about.
If you're a parent then you know what I mean—it's an indescribable love that you can only experience.
And that's exactly why I raise Ava wild.
I want her to stomp in puddles and roll in the mud and get messy and dirty and experience true, pure happiness. I want her to dance in the rain and get sopping wet to experience pure joy in non-material things. I want her to drip Popsicle juice all over herself and smile and laugh to her heart's content.
Just like we can't describe the love we have as parents, the joy I let her experience in "getting down and dirty" is a joy I can't teach her. It's a joy only she can experience for herself.
I can read book after book to her about what happiness is but until she experiences it, she'll never really understand. To hear it is one thing but to experience it is something totally different.
God gave us the most beautiful playground to play in and for some reason, so many of us are scared of letting our kids experience all of that beauty. We, as adults, view dirt as dirt whereas kids view it as never ending fun—the way it should be.
When you raise them wild, they learn to find pure joy and endless happiness in simple things in life.
So, let's let our kids get dirt on their fingers and mud on their toes because if they're able to experience that feeling of pure joy, of pure happiness in literal dirt, then we've done well as parents. Let's let them pick up sticks and play in the mud and touch caterpillars and roll on the grass. Stains on their clothes can wash away but those memories will last a lifetime.
Raise them to explore.
Raise them to adventure.
Raise them to observe.
Raise them to experience.
Raise them to be free.
Raise them to find joy in non-material things.
Raise them to hope.
Raise them to dream.
Raise them wild.
This article originally appeared at The Overwhelmed Mommy.