As my little family crested the grassy hill, I felt my courage leave me.
In front of us was a massive spray park, metal tubes jutting out of the ground from every angle, gushing buckets of water out onto dozens of little ones, their shrieks piercing every eardrum within a one mile radius.
I had been so excited to dance, splash, and add my own shrieks to their chorus.
But the sun had ducked behind the clouds, it’s warmth no longer inspiring my confidence. And when I looked around, I noticed that it was mainly Daddies running after their soaked kidlets. Moms sat on the sidelines, taking photos, waving gaily, but firmly rooted in the ground.
And, of course, they were fully clothed.
Suddenly I felt self-conscious.
I didn’t want to strip down to a bathing suit. I didn’t want expose the marshmallow-like pallor of my skin.
And I didn’t want to be the lone Mom offering up her body for critique to these spectators.
I looked at my husband and murmured, ‘Maybe I’ll just sit here while you guys go play.’
Enviously, I watched as he nonchalantly pulled off his t-shirt. I tugged the thick turquoise terrycloth around me a little more.
My husband had set Asher on the ground, his eyes wide at the soggy paradise awaiting. With a happy squeak he ran straight to the biggest gushing geyser, his Daddy grinning after him.
My heart dropped as I watched them. I had so wanted to be a part of this. Why couldn’t I just do it? Without feeling like I was the one getting pummeled by a gushing geyser of my own fear?
I never thought I would be like this.
You see, I want to be an all-in kind of mom.
I want dirt under my fingernails.
I want grass stains.
I want to get drenched in water balloon fights.
I want to play street hockey.
I want sticky grape popsicle all over my face.
I don’t want to sit on the sidelines.
So I took a deep breath.
And I ditched the towel.
I ran down the hill, nervous energy pumping through me.
I felt so out there. My imperfections-cellulite and all-exposed in the unforgiving daylight.
The fear was still hovering, taunting me like a bully.
But I focused on my little boy’s face. I watched him turn and beam when he saw Mommy coming.
I know there will come a day when my boy no longer thinks Mommy’s company is all that cool.
But until that day arrives, I refuse to warm the bench.