On the way home from the park one afternoon a few weeks ago, it started to rain. The girls and I picked up the pace, dodging raindrops as we giggled our way home. Approaching the house, I turned back intent on urging those little legs to move quickly and get inside before we got too wet, inconvenient repercussions foremost in mind. But I stopped short before I said a word: There, in their sweet faces, turned to the heavens, I saw the pure joy I'm always banging on about. They were fully in the moment, alive, drinking in every sensation, open wide to the experience in every way. They were having the time of their lives.
"Can we stay out just one more minute?" they implored, likely doubtful that their too-often by-the-book mama would sanction such an activity.
I took a breath, letting go of thoughts of carpet-drenching footsteps and muddy laundry. There was no lightning. It was bath night anyways.
"Yes. Yes, you can."
I stood in the doorway and watched every stitch of their summer dresses soaking through, every inch of their arms and legs and cheeks basking in the glory of the summer rain, squeals of delight bursting from their gorgeous souls.
After a few minutes, breathless and glowing, they came inside, shedding their clothing at the front door mat and, at their mother's suggestion, flinging it full force down the basement stairs (extra points if they hit the bottom with a satisfying, soggy smack), before jumping into the bubbliest of baths.
Since that time we have twice now ventured out post-rain (having missed the rain itself) in search of the biggest mud puddles we could find to jump into with wild abandon, laundry be damned. I've seen tentative hops and "Really? We can do this?" glances quickly escalate to full-on running leaps designed to displace the most water and mud possible (extra points for splashing mom). I've heard the most beautiful, joyful laughter. And I've heard myself, the one who only a few weeks ago would have admonished "Get out of the puddles! Watch your dress!", shout "Come on! You can get muddier than that!"
And last night, I jumped in too. (They know what it's about, those kids. So much fun!)
Life is short, and these moments are what life is all about. It's not about the laundry. It's about all the mess and joy and fun that creates the laundry. And if you're lucky, you'll have piles of it to do. (Once you peel it, sopping, off the basement floor. And scrub the mud off the ceiling. And teach them better aim.)
Jump for Joy is a new series on JTTG about small, simple ways to boost the joy in your life.