I was instantly taken back to a day in the summer of 2001. My daughter was five months old and I was dropping her off at daycare before I headed into work. It had started out a hot, muggy, overcast morning and by the time we arrived, a light rain was falling.
I was rushing, as always and as I grabbed her diaper bag and hoisted her out of her car seat and into my arms, she nearly made me drop her because she leaned far, far out to put out her hand and feel the raindrops on her fingers.
The look in her eyes was priceless, as she turned her face up into the rain, feeling it hit her cheeks. She stuck both hands way out, and then she laughed. And laughed.
Her joy was contagious. I dropped the diaper bag down at my feet and I slowly turned with her in a circle, both of us with our faces tilted up to the sky, feeling the rain and loving the feel of it, spinning and laughing and full of life and laughter.
Two other mothers arrived, hurrying their children out of the car. One of them held an umbrella protectively over her baby, giving me the stink-eye as she passed. The other addressed me once we'd gotten inside.
"I can't believe you were out there in the rain," she clucked. "You don't want that baby getting sick!"
"It's eighty-five degrees outside," I replied. "And she loved it."
To hell with her. What does she remember about that day? Just another day in an endless string of days where she bundled up the kid, dropped the kid off, and went to work. But me? I danced in the rain with my daughter, and thirteen years later, I remember it still. I daresay I'll remember it in another forty years, too.
Since that morning, my daughter, and then my son, have danced in the warm summer rain, and I've danced with them. We've put on rainboots and raincoats in the fall rain and stomped puddles and then run inside for cocoa. We've lain on the sidewalks and raced sticks in the rushing current of the street, betting on which one would reach the storm drain first.
We even went outside in the early hours of a hurricane once - we were stir-crazy waiting for it to finally hit us full-force and the wind was gusty but not anywhere near dangerous yet. I knew we were going to spend the next 24- 36 hours stuck indoors, so out came the raincoats and rainboots and we took a stroll through the neighborhood. One Mom actually opened her door to remind me that we were about to get slammed by a hurricane and needed to be inside. I smiled and thanked her (and the other two who called me later to say they couldn't believe I was out walking around with my kids), but we were fine. And it was still nearly three hours later before the wind and rain picked up to dangerous levels, so we were home in plenty of time.
They mean well, I know. Better safe than sorry, is what they say to themselves.
But they, and their children, will never know the joy of dancing and splashing and jumping in the rain.
Call me crazy, but I choose joy. And I'm raising my kids to choose it, too.
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