Before having Aria, I used to absolutely love being outside. Come rain or sun, wind or snow, I would constantly be out walking, I could walk for miles and it wouldn’t phase me in the slightest. I used to love sitting by a river and listening to the water rush over the rocks, listening to the birds nattering to each other up above and the occasional dog and their companion barking at one another. I used to love watching the leaves turn, listening to them crunch or sludge under my shoes, or hearing that delicious sound of fresh powdered snow compressing under your toes. I loved it all, being outside is where I felt most relaxed, happiest and free. Where I lived wasn’t particularly rural, but it had its hidden gems and I loved discovering them and just breathing without the hustle and bustle of everyone else, I liked to just enjoy it.
So why then, when I had Aria did I fall out of love with nature? Post-natal depression really hit me with Aria and with her being an autumn baby, my favourite season, it should have been easier for me to get out. Yet, I somehow found every excuse not to go out; the wheels would get dirty and ruin the new carpets, she’d get cold, the wet leaves made me slip, all silly reasons. Being inside with my new born became my haven rather than the outside world before her and I couldn’t understand it. For some unknown reason I felt she was too fragile for the outside world, despite being the massive 9lb 6ozs that she was. The outside was always changing and was unpredictable and that made me suddenly nervous, if we went outside she had to be in a million layers and I had to prepare everything for every eventuality. It became ridiculous until spring came around, Aria was a bit more robust and we fixed the garden, turns out she loves the outside too. We could enjoy being outside together without needing to leave the safety of our home; she loved her swing, sitting on a mat on the grass surrounded by her toys and loved looking for the birds in the trees.
Spring turned to summer and Aria became more and more interested by nature, she hated the texture of grass and would do anything to avoid it, but she loved daisies and dandelions. As Aria started to develop her own personality, I discovered that mine grew too and that together we discovered (or rediscovered in my case) a love for nature. Her first words were animals and their noises, she had those nailed pretty sharpish. She now loves going to farms or to just go for a walk in a field where she can run around, pick flowers and chase butterflies. She loves going for walks in the woods and pretending she’s found the gruffalo or hiding from a dragon. Being outside is causing her imagination to soar and it’s so beautiful to see. Yet, despite how much she loves animals, if one moves or makes a noise without her expecting it, you’ll see running in the opposite direction quicker than you can say ‘neigh’.
Now Aria asks to go for a walk every day and fortunately for me, there’s a field of sheep just a 5-minute walk down the road, next to a small stream which sometimes homes some ducks. Every day come rain or shine we go for that walk and we see the sheep and we ‘baa’ at them, we check to see if we can see any ducks, she babbles on about the trees and the leaves and watching her love the outside, has made me fall in love with it that little bit more. Even in Autumn with the drizzle and slight bitterness, our favourite game was who can make the other jump the most with our could fingers, nose and ears. No matter the weather, nature is beautiful, it might not always be kind but its unique and special in its own way and I am so glad that my baby girl has taught me to fall in love with it all over again, with a brand-new perspective. If you’re not a massive fan of the outdoors, the way the air makes your hair frizz, how the wind makes your mascara run or if it’s just a bit of a ball ache to get out of the house, think of the fun games or rituals you can can incorporate into the walk. Copying different noises (one of Aria’s favourites), seeing who can find something first,whether it be a bird, a flower, a bee. It’s small things but it’s the small things that make the greatest difference.
I might not get my quiet walks listening to the sounds of nature anymore, but I do get to enjoy the beauty and simple side of nature through the eyes of my crazy two-year-old.