"Now this would have been the dining room," Betty the tour guide explained, "and over there was the living room. Their kitchen was out back." I was front and center, captivated, all caught up in the remarkableness of an era pre-dating washing machines and mega-stores, asking follow up questions.
My kids, though, were not content to merely ponder an existence void of modern conveniences. To them the historic Bailley Homestead was a living, breathing time machine beckoning those with still intact imaginations to fully immerse themselves in the past.
Once they grabbed themselves some Laura Ingalls style vests and aprons from the dress-up racks on display, I vanished, right along with Betty and the couple beside me on the tour with their cell phones and fancy sneakers. Without an ounce of inhibition, my daughter, son and niece donned their roles as industrious Bailley family members in the late-1800's with seriousness and gusto.
"Honey, please go and milk the cows," my oldest girl requested (with a misplaced cockney accent) of my youngest boy, sounding tired, yes, but still stoic. There was so much work to be done! Oh the scrubbing that took place, and mending. I was exhausted just watching them from my where I sat in the corner, pleasantly resigned to the fact we were going be there awhile.
And I took in my ragamuffins with the shredded shoelaces and eclectic period attire, immune momentarily to the lures of Justice brand skinny jeans and iPod Touches, to being dictated by trends or a penchant for acceptance. I ached with appreciation for their bold creativity, and colorful idiosyncrasies. Despite my faults as a mother, they are flourishing, blooming like wildflowers - teaching me a thing or two about shaking off "if onlys" and societal expectations.
What if I was in the regular habit of unselfconsciously getting my "just for the heck of it," why walk when you can skip because we only live once, groove on? I think I'd shimmer down to my core; no more self-applied, surface level varnishing to make me "look" better. I would be better. I would love the skin I'm in, the house I'm in, the "now" I'm in. I'd wear my smile like a top hat, and flash it generously.