It has been raining a lot around here lately. We haven’t gone to the park in what seems like ages and the kids are getting cabin fever. More importantly though, I’ve been noticing my knee jerk response to the rain. I have been watching my utter aversion, my recoiling from it as I step out of the car and run to the other side to unstrap Nico from his car seat. I see how I try to work at lightning speed so that my hair doesn’t get wet, or how I can get snippy when one of the kids is being uncooperative and prolonging the extraction-from-the-car process. I watch myself run, baby on my hip, into the house.
And for the first time, I have been questioning this. Like WTF? Why am I so afraid of getting wet? Is it the mess? being cold? ruining my shoes? Is it simply the chaos of it? Or is this something I learned? Trained at a young age. Recoiling from the rain is my legacy. It is not even mine, just what I was taught over and over again. Rain = bad.
And so I have been asking myself, what if there is a different way to be in the rain? A different posture to take on. The first time I experienced this was visiting my friends in Hawaii. It rained every day, that luscious, tropical kind of rain. Rain that is wild and torrential, warm and exotic. I remember getting caught in a cloudburst and running, but this time gleefully, drenched, elated and alive. It was one of the highlights of our trip.
A friend of mine and his wife got rid of their car recently and have committed to cycling as their single mode of transport. They have one of those gorgeous Dutch bikes with the bucket on the front, big enough to carry all three of their kids. I marvel at their commitment to simplicity and they came to mind a lot during the relentless rain of the last week. Were they regretting their decision? Did it totally suck to have to load everyone onto a bicycle each wet morning?
As I drove Ben to school the other day, I passed by this friend. It was pouring and he was happily zipped up into a rain jacket, looking completely relaxed. His posture was one of total surrender. He looked vibrant. He looked alive.
And that’s when I got it. The rain is just the rain. And I have my response to it. It rains and I am bothered by it. Even afraid. But what am I afraid of? That I get wet? It doesn’t even make sense.
Then I started to notice all the joggers. They had their rain jackets and baseball caps on and they were running, happily, in the rain. Same thing, vibrant and alive. I felt a pang of jealousy, wishing I was a runner, someone who ran in the rain. Then I noticed Ben, getting out of the car and sticking out his tongue to catch the drops, asking me if we could go on a walk.
The rain is just the rain. And we have our response to it.
I called a friend and told her about my rain revelation. Turns out she had her own. “With the right tools,” she said, “It’s a total game changer!” She went on. “I have my 60′s white vinyl rain jacket, my hot little rain boots, and do you remember those clear bubble umbrellas we had as kids? You can see everything going on around you but you are safe in your little bubble! Total game changer.”
So let’s add that sometimes you just need the right tools.
I can’t help but wonder, Where else in my life am I doing this? Where else do I recoil from life when I could simply surrender? Is it in traffic? Is it when the kids hurl toys all over the house? Is it when everyone is being too loud? Is there a way I could surrender to even this? to grow my capacity for chaos? To consciously choose, to decide that messes are okay. That they are just messes.
Old habits die hard. Especially the ones we aren’t even conscious of. I find that with parenting I am consistently bumping up against these automatic ways of being that were passed onto me. They are usually bad news when I notice them, like oh no, I’m doing that thing! that thing my parents did that I hated so much! Ugh. They are not always pretty, but I’m hoping that by shedding a bit of light on them, I have some room to choose. To be different, to transform, to maybe even pass on a love of the rain.