We always like to claim one day during the summer when the kids can swim in the neighborhood pool while it’s raining. I have to agree that it’s something of a spectacular experience. There’s just something about sharing smiles and exhilarated shoulder shrugs as you go for one more dive into your pool-turned-stormy sea. That is, until the lifeguards blow their whistles and declare your playground too dangerous and then you huddle under a too-small umbrella, wrapped in wet towels with your mom. Game over.
Then finally. Finally the rain eased up and a sliver of sun peeked out. I saw our chance. We had a hill to climb, bodies to dry, lunch to make, a movie to watch.
We quickly threw everything into the wagon and set off, hoping to make it home before the heavens opened again. My oldest son took off (why wait when you have long legs?) and the middle one and I walked along, pulling the little one. Slowly, slowly.
That’s when she called out to me.
My friend had taken shelter under the pavilion, several stories above me. She called down to me, holding her phone in her hand.
“Let me get a picture of you!” she called.
Oh, well, I stammered. I just got caught in that rain, you know. My hair. Oh, my hair.
She smiled (a mom of three boys herself) and clicked the picture despite my stammering. I dreaded seeing it, actually, because I felt like a drowned rat and who in the world would want to remember that?
Then she sent me the picture.
I looked it over and thought, well, it’s not that bad. I thanked her for sending it because it was nice of her to capture us that day despite the circumstances. Not a picture I’d necessarily put out there, of course, but still. It told a story of our day in the rain, that’s for sure.
That’s when she e-mailed me these words:
“I just don’t think moms are captured enough in their day-to-day memories of what they do. This is what you do every day and it’s so sweet.”
That picture. It is what I do everyday.
I fill wagons and fold towels and give opportunities to swim in the rain. I am a grin watcher, a hair dryer, a shoulder hugger and stuff lugger. I walk miles back and forth from here to there and back again–often times feeling like it’s uphill both ways.
I brave cold water and bad hair and dark circles under my eyes. I’m an independence giver, a hand holder, a hurry-upper and a movie watcher. I’m a lunch maker, a forehead kisser, a negotiator.
I’m an anchor and a pusher, a cheerleader and a task giver. I squeeze boys (at least those who will wait) into pictures and smile because despite the chaos, I love the exact spot on this earth that my feet are inhabiting. Holy ground. All of this.
This is what we do–us moms. Every day. It can be messy, alright, but it’s beautiful.
My friend of three boys? She knew enough to capture the moment. My beautiful, wet-haired, soaked-to-the-bone, random Monday, perfect-in-its-imperfect moment.
“This is how I always think of you,” she said. Wise woman, she is.
I think it would do my heart good to think of myself this way as well.
What would your beautiful, messy, perfectly imperfect mama moment look like today?
Katie Kenny Phillips lives in Atlanta with her husband, Jeff, and their three hilarious boys (Bigs, Middles and Littles). Their home is made up of two parts Legos, one part dirt/sticks/rocks/acorns and all parts “whose underwear is this and why is it in the middle of the family room?” She and her husband just started an orphan/foster care ministry at their church and are excited to become foster parents themselves this month.
Katie writes at Operation: Leap of Faith and is a proud contributor over at Next Level Mama and at The Forgotten Blog, sharing her family’s journey into foster care. You can also find her on Twitter @opleapoffaith