We had a rough day. Plenty of ups and plenty of downs. The kids were trapped inside most of the day and driving me (and each other) insane. At the height of the chaos, I had had enough. I told the kids to get shoes and coats. We were going outside. NOW.
We strolled down to the park. Jacob led the way while Ryan and I jumped over the cracks in the sidewalk. He giggled with delight each time, demanding "jump again!" This was the first time in several hours that there was no whining and no fighting. It was awesome.
It had just rained. The skies were grey, the beautiful, serene grey that I love about the Pacific Northwest. The grass smelled fresh and dewy. The ground made a slopping sound under our feet. There was a freshness everywhere. The smell of seawater floated in the breeze. It was perfect.
We reached the park. The playground was still under construction. Jacob led me around the construction zone and we checked out the beginnings of an exciting new playland.
Then we came upon a parking lot full of puddles. I knew Ryan would make an instant beeline for them. I had five seconds to make a crucial decision: divert the path now or continue towards the puddles. What the heck, I thought, let them splash. I still remember splashing in puddles in our backyard when I was six. It was one of my favorite times.
Jacob rolled up his pant legs. I removed Ryan's pants altogether. And the kids spend a carefree half hour running from puddle to puddle. I put aside all concerns about how oily the parking lot may have been. I put aside all concerns about the extra laundry, the mess that would be dragged into the house, and the fact that the kids would now need baths. I took a page from the kids' book and suspended all worries. It was therapeutic just to watch them. They giggled and screamed. Their eyes lit up with each big splash.
No one was yelling. Or crying. Or whining. Or asking me for anything. Or begging to be held. Everyone was happy. Not just happy. Euphoric. It was perfect. It was better than any day at the playground could have been. The little patter of their feet made me smile. Some day they will have worries. And fears. And responsibilities. But today, right now, they are the freest they will ever be.
The kids splashed and played until they were panting and exhausted. We enjoyed a calm walk home, stopping to see the sights and sounds of our neighborhood. Then I whisked them inside for warm baths and hot cocoa.
Chores are all done and the kids are sleeping now. And I'm laying in my bed, crying. This afternoon was so wonderful and so beautiful. It was one of those picturesque moments of the perfection of life. But thinking about how wonderful it all was made me realize that my trips to the park with the kids are limited. Someday, and someday soon, they won't be little kids who enjoy the playground. They won't want to go with their mom to splash in puddles. One day, I will have no one to take to the park. This wonderful and beautiful time in their lives will end, thus ending this wonderful and beautiful time in MY life.