When I was 14, my friends and I decided to start a summer camp in our neighborhood. We traipsed door-to-door across the scorching Texas asphalt, passing out dot-matrix-printed pamphlets filled with words intended to convince parents to share their children with us each Monday for our Fun in the Sun (FITS, we nicknamed it) program.
It was the 1990s, we were charging $10 a day for a camp held at my house under the watchful back-up eye of my mom and most of the parents already knew us from swim team. It was an easy sell.
We spent the summer with 25 kids, making homemade movies on a suitcase-sized Camcorder, playing soccer on the brown, sticker-burr-studded lawn and trying to slurp up Popsicles before they melted into puddles at the bottom of the stick.
Pool crowds starting to dwindle and back-to-school outfits beginning to fill closets, we decided to throw a big “end-of-camp bash” for campers and their parents. We worked with the kids on every aspect of the celebration and were meticulous about each detail, from the color of the tablecloths to the huge blue Jello-filled aquarium that would serve as both our centerpiece and our refreshment.
At the exact same time the big celebration was scheduled to start, it began to pour — the sort of dime sized raindrops and horizontal gusts of wind that only a perfect summer storm can bring.
As the rain transformed our paper plates, napkins and tablecloths from light pink to magenta, all of the moms darted from their cars to the garage like seagulls to thrown bread.
Except for one mom. She joined her kids in the rain and danced as though a magical umbrella was hovering above her in the sky, protecting her from any of the annoyances the drops might impart.
I’ll never forget the joy on the faces of her kids when she did this. Even though I was just a teenager, that day I decided I wanted to someday be the kind of mom who will be dancing in the rain.
Fast forward 20 years and I’m a harried mom to two little girls, 5 and 3, trying hard to balance a full-time job with play dates and school projects and soccer practice. We’ve just had dinner at my parents’ house on a weeknight and we’ve stayed longer than intended.
As I snap at the girls to hurry up to the car, my mischievous five year old beelines for the outside faucet and cranks the sprinkler on. Streams of water blast into the sky, creating miniature rainbows against the early evening clouds, as both girls, fully clothed, begin to twirl below.
I turn to them, ready to launch into any number of reasons why they CAN’T play in the sprinkler NOW. (It’s almost bedtime! You’re not in swimsuits! The car will get all wet! You have school tomorrow!)
And then I just stop.
“Be the kind of mom who will dance in the rain.” I drop my purse in the grass and rush into the mist with them, their faces changing from shock to delight as we dance under the water in our dinner clothes. And it is perfect.
Not every moment that can be like this. We’ve got schedules to keep. People to see. Baths to take. Sleep to get. And yes, glasses of wine to drink and episodes of “Project Runway” to watch after an exhaustingly long day.
Still, I’m re-adopting this as my mantra, and I’m making it a goal to put it into practice as much as I possibly can:
“Be the kind of mom who will dance in the rain.”
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