There are not many moments in life when I let my guard down enough to lack all inhibitions. This is the story of one of those moments.
Today my first born and only son, Isaiah, turned 6. This was a bittersweet birthday for me. It's great how big he's getting, growing in independence and confidence. It's rough to think that he's now older than one hand.
I had a lovely day planned.
A donut breakfast with strawberries while he watched his favorite cartoons. Check.
Lunch at Grandma's. Check.
Surprised him with having his bosom buddy join us to go swimming and play all afternoon. Check.
Brinner for dinner with the grandparents. Check.
A trip to the Melting Pot for a special birthday dessert. Check.
All of these things were wonderful, and he kept telling me how much fun it was. Throughout the day, however, all I could think each time he thanked me was "Just wait until you're a parent. You'll hate birthdays, too."
The truth is, birthdays are great fun. I am always happy after they are over that I did them up so much, and the kids always love it. As I'm walking through those days, though, I hate them. It's so much work, I'm always tired, and I stress far too much. They just really aren't my favorite part of being a parent.
After we had our special melted chocolate dessert, we piled back into our truck, bellies full, knowing we had to take a trip to Walmart to pick up a few things I still needed for his party on Saturday. None of us really wanted to do this, but it was a must on my list. As we drove, however, we saw in the distance a splash park. Now, for anyone unfamiliar with these wonders, think of playing in a sprinkler in your back yard. Now imagine that with huge sprinklers all over the place, giant sprayers, and none of the water bill. Oh yeah. We love those. The hubs and I looked at each other with a common thought.
"We don't have any dry clothes for them," I said.
"And?" he smiled as he replied.
"Good point," I added.
We decided I would run into the grocery store down the street and he would stay with the kids and let them play, dress and new clothes and all. I dropped them off, ran down the road, and picked up my items. I had already decided I was going to pull up, get the kids in the truck as quickly as possible, and get home. I had work to do for the party, and I was stressed and tired.
As I pulled up to the splash park, I saw my daughter, running in her $40 Gap dress (a splurge for us), and my son, shoe-less and shirtless in his new shorts. Their laughter rang through the air and it brought my dear friend Lesley's words to mind. "One of these days," she told me a few weeks earlier as we watched out kids play at a splash park, "I'm just going to jump in with them...one of these days!"
This was the night.
I jumped from the truck full of excitement, leaving the keys in the ignition, and ran toward the water.
As I held the hands of my children, I squealed when the icy water dropped from a bucket onto my head. I grinned from ear to ear as I ran through the misting rainbow, and I belly laughed as I laid on the concrete and let my kids spray me with the toys. That's when it hit me. This was fun. I was having fun. All of my inhibitions melted away as the water sprayed my face and my newly six year old screamed with delight. All of a sudden, my hair and makeup didn't matter. The fact that my clothes were drenched didn't matter. The work left to do on a birthday party just days away didn't matter. All that mattered was that moment and the joy on the faces of my birthday boy and his sister.
After we pulled Daddy into the water to play, too, it was time to make the drive home. As I rode next to my sweetheart, windows down to dry our hair, my sweet boy's words filled my ears. "I know I say this every year, but this year was my best birthday ever!"
I think he was right.