Once upon a time, on a seasonably warm and rainy Sunday afternoon, I sat in my living room reading my latest book club book feeling incredibly proud that I might actually have something to contribute to the next discussion. It had been months, maybe a year actually, since I had read a book to completion for book club. As I read, I listened to my children reluctantly doing their household chores, becoming distracted every time a new thought entered their minds. From my lazy perch, I kept reminding them to stay on task.
And then I heard it, the creak of the door to the mudroom and then the slam of the door leading to the garage. My son had escaped. I sent my daughter to go find him, as it was pouring rain outside. As she opened the door I heard her yell my son’s name in her usual annoyed tone. Then silence for a while and giggling laughter passing beneath the window I sat near. Ugh! Now I would have to get up and question what on earth they were doing in the rain. Didn’t they care that I just wanted to sit and relax?
I searched and found them hanging out in the little clubhouse of their swing set. I imagined how wet they were and was annoyed with having to go through the lecture of knowing better than to be outside in the rain. To my surprise, they came running with full rain gear on and umbrella in use. Not wet at all. They excitedly began sharing tales of the big puddles they found in the yard that went up to their waists and then laughing at their own exaggerations. I looked at them knowing it was now my duty to tell them to get inside, dry themselves off and get back to work. And then the question came…why? Why couldn’t they play outside in the rain, get dirty, jump in puddles, go on an adventure in their own yard? I had no good reason.
It wasn’t like they had never played in the rain before either. It had just typically been during a time I didn’t have earmarked for getting their chores done and not being allowed to have any fun until that happened. Unlike Cinderella, there was no fancy ball to look forward to, maybe dessert after lunch if they were lucky. It was just my own expectations, getting in their way.
When I told them they could continue their adventures, you would have thought they were about to go to the ball! They ran inside to pack a backpack full of snacks and supplies they would need as they headed out into the wild. I even held my breath when I heard them planning on choosing one stuffed animal each for the journey. Wet stuffed animals…great. But really, why did I care? It was their adventure to take, their stuffed animal to share it with, their time to just be kids. It was my job to allow them the opportunity and provide the towels at the end. I relished in the moments of their planning session as they happily sang out what they would need in the “big storm” and smiled as my daughter announced that I was the “best mommy ever.” I am always the “best mommy ever” when I allow them to do or eat the things they know I don’t support. If only they knew how hard of job it is to be the mediocre and sometimes mean mom that they are used to.
I sat and listened to them with the back door open, laughing and giving advice to each other of how to survive the storm. Their giggles were musical and infectious. And when they came to the door, knocked politely and asked in their adorable little voices, “Mommy, why don’t you get off your lazy tushie and join us.” Lazy tushie?! It was true. So I put down my book and lame excuses and joined them. That’s right, I then rose to the “Coolest Mommy Ever”.
Had I held on to my expectations of them so fiercely, which is not uncommon, we would have had a very different experience. They would have spent the day cleaning their playroom, putting away laundry and helping with all the household chores and I would have been happy with the accomplishments. Yet, they would have missed out on the opportunity to pack together for the big storm and spend six hours (yes, six hours!) outside playing in the rain and enjoying their own company. The house will get cleaned later…maybe. And that’s okay.
So often we have a plan in mind that must get done, we must keep ourselves and our children on track and we do it for the good of our family. As we should! We would drive ourselves nuts if we were to let it all go. But when the expectations don’t fit the mold of the day or the week or even the shape of our child, it may be time to reevaluate why it’s so important to us.
If we let the rain become our obstacle, or our own unwavering expectations, we may miss out on the experiences that highlight the joy in our lives and the opportunity to appreciate what is staring us in the face, or asking us ever so nicely to “come play with me.” And the bonus, I now have one more perfectly crafted picture to add to my mental scrapbook and I just had to wear rain boots to get it.