Last week, it rained. It wasn’t a big storm, and it didn’t last long, but it was just enough: enough to feed the flowers and trees. Enough to fill holes in the streets and divets and cracks along the sidewalk.
Enough to wet my sneakers, and soak my socks.
As soon as I felt the cool water between my toes, I became was annoyed. (I HATE soggy shoes.) I was tired and frustrated and had a million things to do. There were dishes to wash and clothes to fold. I had an article due before bed, and I wanted to go inside. I just wanted to get home. But my daughter had other plans.
You see, where I saw an obstacle, my two-year-old saw potential. Where I saw a puddle, my daughter saw possibilities. And so she jumped right in.
She kicked and jumped, splashed and laughed.
Initially, I told her to stop. I mean, she was going to dirty. She was going to get messy. She was going to get wet. But then I stood back and watched her. I heard her giggle and scream with delight. I saw the ear to ear grin on her face, and I stopped.
Dead in my tracks, I stopped: What was I doing? Why was I stopping her?
My little girl is going to grow up so quick — she already growing up too quick — and before long that puddle will become an annoyance. Before long, the rain will become bothersome. And before long, she will loathe wet shoes like I do.
But today isn’t that day.
So instead of stopping her, I let her play. Instead of stopping her, I stopped myself. I suspended “adulthood” for a few minutes and I played.
We ran and laughed and splashed and played. Because innocence is fleeting.
Because life is fleeting.
Make no mistake: parenting isn’t easy and sometimes life happens. There isn’t always time to stop and play in puddles because life can — and will — get in the way. But on this day, and in this moment, I had a choice: I could clean my kitchen or I step back and take it all in.
I could take her all in.
So to you, my sweet baby girl, I say this: May you to always to enjoy the promise of an empty laundry basket or cardboard box. (Seriously. I want you to fly to the moon or sail across the kitchen floor, protecting your father and I from a band of unruly pirates.)
May you always enjoy the simplicity that comes from snuggling on a sick day.
May you always see see animals in the sky. And may you always see potential in puddle.
(Don’t worry about the mess; it’s OK. We can clean it up later. I promise, we can — and will — clean it up later.)