It's literally pouring rain outside. Not a soft, gentle drizzle, but a torrential downpour that makes you glad to be home curled up on the couch.
"Can we go outside to play?" my 7-year-old queries as she peers through the curtains at the darkened sky and the deluge of water running through the streets.
"Are you crazy? It's pouring outside!" I immediately retort while giving her an incredulous look.
"I don't mind. It looks like fun." Her response makes me pause. I'm looking outside thinking how glad I am to be dry and warm and she is looking outside thinking about how fun it would be to jump in puddles and dance in the rain. I remember when I was little, what a thrilling adventure it was to run in the rain.
"Okay, you all can go out and play if you really want to. Go get your swim suit on." Her facial expression changes to surprise right before her mouth splits into a huge grin and her face fills with joy.
"Seriously?! THANK YOU!" She briefly hugs me around the waist before scampering off to change.
As a parent, there are always a thousand different things you are juggling, all at once. It is so much easier to avoid situations that you know are going to create mess, extra time consumption, and hassle. 'Help' with laundry means that perfectly folded stacks are going to get knocked over and that whatever they fold themselves is going to need to be refolded. (Without them knowing of course, otherwise you run the risk of completely devastating them.) Cooking together is going to result in splattering, and spills, and it's going to take at least twice as long to make the meal. Chalk drawings on the pavement somehow ends up with my kids so covered, from head to toe, that the only thing that is left without a layer of chalk dust is their eye balls. (Not to mention the colorful trail they leave in their wake, all through the house, on the way to the bath tub.) Arts and crafts time means that I will be finding paint spatters and glitter all over the house for months to come. No matter how much I scrub and vacuum.
The truth is, there are things I sometimes avoid doing with my kids because I just don't want to deal with the added clean up afterward, or the time involved. So often I feel pressure to get mundane stuff accomplished. Stuff like dirty dishes that are piled in the sink and the damn laundry, that lets face it, will never be completely done. Not even for five minutes. For at least the next decade. Not to mention the hundred other things on my daily to-do list.
But lets face it, that's just all part of adult-ing. While my goal is to raise successful, responsible, kind people, I also want them to enjoy this special time in their lives. Childhood goes by so quickly. Before I know it they will be off adult-ing on their own and won't have time for things like making mud pies and getting totally filthy. They are going to be too old and independent to want to spend time with me.
Watching the joy and careless abandon of the kids as they ran through the pouring rain and jumped into giant muddy puddles made me realize how important these times are. It made me realize that I really need to make more of an effort to allow them moments like these. To see things from their perspective and to find it within myself to let go of my own ideals of what constitutes a successful day. My own measure of success on a daily basis needs to be a little less about how many things got checked off the to-do list and more about how much time we spent enjoying the chaos. It's a lesson I know, but a lesson that I sometimes lose sight of. But watching them, I remembered the fun of running through the rain. I won't forget again anytime soon.