They danced in the rain today.
I was upstairs, working, when he came barreling up the stairs. “Have you seen it?” he asked, with a grin that was somehow bigger than those I’d seen from him lately. When I asked what he was talking about, he said “front door. Now. Right now.”
So I followed him down, out to the porch. His brother and sister were dancing and running and giggling in the downpour. Nicholas was wearing the same jeans and t-shirt he’d worn all day; Erin had added a too-small pajama top over her outfit. I’m not sure why, but it didn’t matter.
He went out to join them, and Erin grabbed him to dance. She dances every day. He doesn’t. He’s the quiet one, the reserved one, the one more likely to give a side glance and a snarky comment about the dancer than he is to actually dance.
But as she grabbed his hands, he moved with her for a few seconds before he broke off on his own. I giggled as I thought of Billy Crystal’s character Harry in When Harry Met Sally, seeing my big, shy guy was doing his own version of the white man’s overbite.
They ran up and down the sidewalk, all three of them, to the side street where the water rushes and pools when the rain comes too fast. They splashed each other and tagged each other and for a minute—or maybe two—they stopped fighting and they stopped being my big kids. For that minute—or two—I just saw my three babies, silly and happy and soaking up each other as greedily as their clothes drank in the rain.
These moments have been few and far between this summer. I keep reminding myself that these kids of mine aren’t really kids anymore. One is leaving for a college six states away in about two weeks; the other two are in junior high. Back-to-school shopping was all about clothes and expensive calculators instead of crayons and wide ruled notebooks. They make their own lunches, fight with me about activities, are anxious about making new friends and navigating school halls much bigger and more crowded than I ever had to. They are clearly now adults in training rather than the kids I remember leaving on the first day of kindergarten.
If I’m being honest, I have to admit that the transition hasn’t been easy for me. I’m not sure how to be THIS mom, the mom of kids moving away and decorating lockers and talking to their friends on tablets and phones. I was just getting into the swing of being the mom of three little ones and here they are, growing up so fast that I’m convinced I must have blacked out and missed a year or two or three.
But today, for a minute—or two—I felt like the mom I remember being then, as I stood and watched them play in the rain. Maybe it was a parting gift or a consolation prize from the power above, reminding me that no matter how big and smart and self-sufficient they get, they’re still my babies under it all.
Or maybe it was just me, being sappy and so grateful for the gift of being their mom. Doesn’t matter either way. I’ll take it.