Today I had an epiphany. I picked my son up from school and he asked to go to the playground. I hesitated. Why do I dread the playground? I love my kids. I should love the playground, right? I shrugged it off, said yes, and off we went.
My son wants me to push him on this roundabout thing. But I’m just cold. Low circulation in 70 degree weather. I have to sit on a swing in the sun to warm up. I swing a bit. Then higher, and higher like my son. Then whoa…I’m feeling nauseous. Why can’t I swing anymore without wanting to throw up? This didn’t happen when I was a kid. “Look, I’m almost touching that tree!” my son says with glee. I stop myself and try to calm my spinning stomach. We go to the roundabout thing and I push, standing in a sunny spot. This is hard to push. It’s more like dragging him along. Not too fun for either of us. I suggest he go to the monkey bars instead. No pushing involved there. We wade through mulch, and there, I marvel at his prowess on the bars.
I stare up at a red monkey bar, lift my arms and jump. I hang for about a second. It hurts my hands, especially where the wedding band is. My son climbs up another bar and gets on top, reaches over precariously and jumps into a ring. He grabs it, holds for a moment, then drops down, laughing. Would have ripped my arm right out of the socket.
I glare up at my bar again. I jump and hold it about 4 seconds this time. My hands hurt. Dang, I’m heavy. He’s just carrying a lighter load. That’s it. No, that’s not all. What about our military and the boot camps the troops go through? Surely they have to do chin ups. I try one and stick my chin up there…for about 5 seconds. Wow. This is hard. I am totally out of shape. My son? Still going.
And so it occurs to me. I am 38-years-old. When I was pregnant with my son just over 5 years ago, I started writing books. I love writing books, but I sit on my tookus all day. I’m out of shape. I dread the playground, why? Because there’s nothing for me to do here. I have other things to do, errands to run, books to write, clients to tend to. There’s nothing for me here except for my kids, of course…unless.
Unless I learn to play again. Unless I reclaim my inner child and my outer body. Unless I choose not to sit idly by like all these other parents and grandparents, scared of the germs on the bars and swing sets, trying not to get sand in our shoes…unless I choose to learn how to play again. I want to be able to play like my son, with my son. I want to be able to hang on those bars and laugh and look forward to the playground again.
I ask my son why I can’t do the things he can. He says, “Maybe you’re just too big.” Too big. Hmph. “Too big or too old?” I say, mostly to myself, but he hears. “Maybe too old,” he answers.
Too big and too old to play.
That’s when I make up my mind. I’m going to learn how to play again, get in shape again, and feel young again. In 91 days. 91 playgrounds. What do I have to lose? Pounds? Flab? But what could I gain? More time with the kids? A younger state of mind? More energy? More fun?