Sprinklers and Do-overs

Sep 28, 2012

(Winners of Tuesday’s book and DVD giveaway are revealed at the end of this post. Congrats to our winners!)

“To me, if life boils down to one thing, it’s movement. To live is to keep moving.” —Jerry Seinfeld

I picked them up at the bus stop, as usual.

4:00 pm. Three littles. One thousand billion decibels of happiness.

They chattered my ears off the entire way home, each one talking over the other two, fighting for stage time, desperate to tell stories about a great day at school.

I tried to listen, really I did. But in two days, I’d leave for another trip, and my list of to-do’s wouldn’t leave me alone.

Set up parent-teacher conferences. Polish three presentations. Print all notes. Start the laundry. Pack a suitcase. Make those dentist appointments. Stockpile food for my saint husband who will be home alone with five children for three days.

Like a hamster wheel, the committee in my head ran frantic to keep it all in order.

Listen, Michele. The list will wait. Don’t miss this.

I forced myself to focus, take in the countless details that make up the world of five-and-six-year-olds. A smooshed peanut butter sandwich. Chasing boys at recess. A new hole in the “good” jeans.

I (mostly) listened on the walk home. But then we entered the front door, and I remembered the email I forgot to send. Releasing sweaty hands, I sent them off to put shoes and backpacks away. Then I slipped into my office.

One email, one minute. Then I’ll go back to mothering.

But one email turned into several, and one minute into to an embarrassingly long amount of time. Thirty minutes later (or was it an hour?), I emerged from my office and glanced at the time.

5:30 pm?

Guilt. A lead jacket, strapped around my chest. I blew it. Again. When will I learn?

I walked through the house and then to the backyard, searching for my littles. Instead, I found a surprise. They stood on our deck, dressed in school clothes, socks and tennis shoes, grinning ear to ear.

Soaking wet from head to toe.

I threw open the back door. “What is this? What did you do?”

Turns out the sprinklers came on. And watching sprinkler spray wasn’t enough for three children who wanted the feel of water on faces.

So, while I worked, they played.

This didn’t make me happy at all. I didn’t yell, but I didn’t laugh either. All I could see were the to-dos waiting to be done, the dinner I hadn’t cooked, the homework we hadn’t finished. And now, three soaked children needing towels and a change of clothes.

The committee in my head went crazy.

For the past several days this has bothered me. The fact that I reprimanded them for their irresponsibility rather than commend their ingenuity. The fact that I was wound so tight I couldn’t see past the wet clothes to the possibilities of play.

The fact that it’s too late to feel the spray on my own face.

Or is it?

Today I picked them up at the bus stop, as usual.

4:00 pm. Three littles. One million decibels of happiness.

But today, the sky opened in a sprinkler of rain. Light drops covered asphalt and grass. I almost drove my car to pick them up.

Instead, I walked. And they walked. And we skipped and talked and giggled, utterly indifferent to the risk of rain on school clothes, socks and shoes.

Fully alive in the middle of our crazy-full, exhausting life.

When I started this post, the story ended differently, with guilt and a wish for a do-over. So I did it over. Wrote the post differently by first living a different story.

Don’t like how your story is ending? Choose a different one. A new day. A new choice.

A chance to feel a sprinkler’s spray on your face.

What would you like to do over? 


Thank you to everyone who watched Tuesday’s video interview with Ken Davis, and especially to those of you who shared the one change you want to make to live more fully alive. You inspire us! The two winners of the Fully Alive book and Fully Alive DVD are …

  • Fully Alive DVD: Brent Johnson
  • Fully Alive Book: Wendy Claussen



  1. Heather Day Gilbert

    AGAIN, you nailed it, Michele. By necessity, I think authors spend so much time at their computers, almost like an extra appendage we have to be connected with at all times. After awhile, I fear we forget how to enjoy just hanging with our kiddos. Definitely making an effort today to get away from it some!

    • Michele

      Thank you, Heather. I think you’re right … it’s definitely one of the chief challenges I face as a writer/work-from-home mom. Hope you enjoy a connected-less weekend. 🙂


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