It’s a rainy Labor Day weekend. And with millions evacuating their homes for drier, higher ground we aren’t complaining about our hike and swim being canceled.
My children welcome rain. They love splashing in the gutter that temporarily transforms into a raging river in front of our house, they love shaking our fragile young trees and causing an extra brief downpour on each other, they love collapsing at the kitchen counter and begging for hot chocolate and they love long lazy days playing with games and toys.
Yesterday afternoon I had collapsed with a rather lame novel as the kids prepared to play in the downpour. I took my book with me from room to room as we retrieved slickers and boots and snuck in a few paragraphs while making tinfoil boats. “Mom, come out and play with me.” pleaded Mary.
“C’mon, you used to play in the rain with us all the time.” Xander urged.
Oh, but I’m tired. Exhausted from a long week of back-to-school paperwork, new sports and music schedules, forgotten appointments, lots and lots of people(mostly at home) frustrated by my lack of organization. Too tired to play.
Then Erik threw the clincher, “You always played with Ben and Stefan when they were little.”
Raincoat on, I stepped out into the clear evening light. Mary called out orders to me as she skipped through the puddles. We raced tin-foil boots down the gutter until they became crushed silver balls. Her eyes sparkled in the filtered light and the mist curled her wispy hair into loose ringlets. Her red raincoat reached past her shorts and I marveled at her bare little legs and she ran and twirled at impossible speeds. Any moment, any moment she’ll slip and fall, but she never does.
Xander and Gabe are still in their church clothes, unhindered by rain gear they set up barriers around the neighbor’s garbage cans– damming up the water and then whoosh! a flood!
They are beautiful.
I did play with Ben, Stefan and Hans more when they were little. Unimpeded by school and sports and schedules we spent long hours at the park, digging in the sandbox, losing at Candyland, playing with wooden trains, Legos and Playmobil. And now, even when I find the time, I no longer have the patience for those long hours of pure frolic.
Xander’s first violin teacher once told me that she always like to teach the first or second child in the family because after that the mom gets burned out. I was a tad offended and swore I would never be a burned out mother. But in some ways I am.
After nearly 17 years of mothering I no longer look for new craft projects, I don’t make tissue paper flowers anymore and I certainly don’t encourage painting in the kitchen. I still read with my little ones but I’m not as concerned about when they too will learn to read. My times-table flashcards are missing half their contents and I haven’t bothered to replace them. And yes, I certainly don’t take violin practice as seriously as I once did. It’s been nice to have more time to dive onto my own interests, but I do, ahem, tend to get a bit obsessed. The season for truly taking the plunge on “the next stage” is coming but it’s not here yet.
So it’s good and bad. I celebrate the loss of my motherly competitive streak but mourn the effort I once put into play.
I’m making a resolution here. I have two short years before Mary starts first grade and Ben goes to college and then a mission. I’m making those years count. Send over your family fun ideas, share your sweet traditions, don’t let me descend into apathy and lame novels– help me be the mother I still need and want to be.