I’m a mama to three.

My first was deceptively easy. A calm baby, an easy-going toddler, and a sweetheart of a preschooler. She was the reason I had a second.

He was all boy.

Rough and tumble from the day I brought him home. But he was the best snuggler a mama could ask for and a mighty fine sleeper. He’s the one who taught me there’s just nothing like the love a little boy has for his mama.

So I had a third.

And he’s the reason my tubes were tied. Let me tell you about this wild child of mine. He was born at an ungodly hour of the morning. He was a wiggle worm who hated swaddling, never was a fan of sleep, and a boy who loved to be upright in the arms of his mama. The doctors said he had colic, but looking back, I wonder if just didn’t want to be put down for fear he’d miss something.

He’s sweet. SO sweet. And anything he does, he gives his ALL to.

But that determination is what paints him wild.

He’s stubborn, relentlessly so. He saw three specialists by his first birthday because he refused all solid foods. The feeding therapists were convinced it was a swallowing issue. But when a cupcake was symbolically placed before him on his first birthday to celebrate, he ate every last bite.

And I started to understand the wild wonder that he was.

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His energy is boundless and creativity unstifled.

His toddler years were spent vaulting over baby gates and solving puzzles I foolishly called child locks. If you’d seen the look of pride on his face as he cleared each of those obstacles though, you’d understand why I never want to stifle my wild one.

The passion he has for life is magic, and it’s my job to teach him to use it for good.

My boy, he’s never backed down from a challenge. The problem is sometimes that challenge is going to bed.

And at the end of a long day, it’s hard to appreciate his negotiation skills when it comes to a given number of bedtime stories or his fort constructing abilities when I just want to crash.

But that determination and that imagination of his will take him places. If I can live up to my responsibility of redirecting it for good.

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Wild ones see adventure everywhere. On playgrounds, in grocery stores, and unfortunately, even within classroom walls. They’re often labeled unruly, inattentive, and defiant. They’re the ones whose mothers are pulling them down from shelves in the grocery store (because don’t you know they’re Spider-Man?), apologizing profusely at playgroups (because while creative, writing in the dirt with pee is not appropriate), and attending parent-teacher conferences monthly.

Wild ones see challenges where others see limits and suggestions where most see boundaries because to them the world holds infinite possibilities.

And if they reach adulthood without that belief being tamed, still carrying their tenacity and spunk, wild ones are the ones to change the world. Because they see all it has to offer, in a way so few can. They don’t fear being different. They don’t see status quo, nor do they fear pushback for pursuing change. The world is there to be bettered. And they have what it takes to do it. But keeping their spirit strong in a world that calls for conformity is hard.

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And for this reason, raising a wild child takes commitment, patience, and grace.

But the rewards it brings, the love and laughter along the way, they make every wrinkle and gray hair gained worth it.   

My wild one, you are a law unto yourself. You’re a bundle of energy—as creative and quick thinking as you are fast. You are imagination walking and my heart outside my chest. You’re a visionist, a comedian, and a philosopher. You see adventures in the mundane, humor in hardship, and light where many see darkness. You see the best in everyone, the possibility in everything, and love without limits.

You’re also the very reason I sleep with one eye open. Because nothing scares you.

Not the dark, danger, or figures of authority. Your mind races when most are at rest, you see rules more as starting points and answer to no one. You’re spontaneous, unscripted, and some have been known to say feral. You hate clothes (yes, they ARE necessary!), and see the world as your jungle gym.

And I am in a weird space of in-between. Responsible for successfully guiding you through to adulthood while protecting the very wonder of your wild. I don’t want to impose rules that crush your spirit, but I need you to observe the ones that will crush you.

I’m learning, son. Life is best as a game. You love to race to get ready, to eat the foods that will make you strongest, and to smile at everyone you pass so they’ll smile back at you. You love to be a helper and a role model. And effect change. And, you will.

In fact, I know one day the house will be lucky to have you. I just hope it’s the one of Representatives, or the White House, or the Court House. Really anywhere but the jailhouse.

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But, seriously boy. Give mama some grace, too. Because life with you is a journey. And as lucky as I am to be along for the ride there’s no roadmap. And I know you’re doing your thing and paving your way–but the wind in my hair along the way is terrifying. So, when I hold tight know it’s only because I want to be here to see you change the world.

Let’s make a deal–I’ll be your quiet, and you can be my wild. And together we’ll grow.  


Cara Arnold

I’m a mama to 3 whose learning to balance parenthood and chronic illness at the hands of autoimmune encephalitis. Some days I’m a soccer mom, carpooling like a boss; other days I’m a relentless advocate, taking on doctors and insurance companies alike. But, if you’re looking for consistency every day I’m a hot mess. My life is a puzzle that’s still not together. I used to think pieces were missing. But it's all finally fitting together. It’s not what I envisioned, and some days I mourn that; but it’s mine. And knowing how fast that can change I try to appreciate every moment of it.