Bringing Back the Play

Lately, my struggles with health have seemed to take over my life in many ways.  I’ve struggled with anger, depression, frustration, and more in reaction to the changes I have been forced to make in order to compensate for it all.  Earlier this evening though, after a long day, I got a beautiful reminder of the truth of that old saying, “when God closes a door, He always opens a window“.  One of the biggest things my unstable joints and weakened health has taken from me is the ability to get down on the floor and play with my kids building legos, putting together puzzles, playing with trains, rolling around in tickle fights, playing in forts made of sheets and tables, etc.

Truth be told, I still can’t do those things like I used to, and the few times I have tried to anyway, my body quickly and severely reminded me of why I couldn’t.  I’ve tried replacing the missed fun with things that could be done at chair and table levels, like piano and coloring and watching more movies together, and with things the kids could do with other people, but both my children and I still felt the loss.  Yesterday evening though, I blissfully found myself in a position of playing and enjoying my children to the fullest, being right in the middle of their smiles and laughter and imagination again instead of having to watch from the sidelines.  No, nothing changed in regards to my health or limitations.  I was actually bed bound at the time from a headache, weak leg that kept giving out, a weak shoulder, and a problem with persistent dizziness every time I tried to sit up.

So what was different?  Perspective, and accommodation.  My children needed to clean their toys up after dumping most of their collection all over the floor.  I needed to lay down and rest but wanted to still be near them so I chose the bed in the messy room.  After a short while, the boys decided to climb up to be with me.  At first, it was just some loving cuddles and hugs and some sweet well-meaning actions like pulling the blanket up to my shoulders, brushing my hair away from my eyes like I do for them, etc.  Then David, true to his nature of seeing things in different ways than the majority, leaned in close to my face, briefly looked at my eyes before darting his gaze to my nose (eye contact is hard for him), and smiled at me.

Not just a simple, sweet, ordinary smile either.  One filled with laughter dancing at the edges and mischief hiding in the dimples.  I took his cue and reached out and bopped his nose with my finger setting off a string of giggles which ended in him climbing up to join me on the bed.  I couldn’t move much, and I couldn’t sit up, but that didn’t stop him from finding a way to play with me and we both enjoyed every second of it.  His brother, Joshua, soon joined in too once he saw what we were up to; entertaining himself with climbing up on my side and then giggling when I would roll slightly and cause him to plop back down to the bed.  David’s favorite game was seeing how close he could get before I kissed his nose or tickled his cheeks or neck. lol  When I grew too tired to continue and my headache got worse, they cuddled close to me and listened to music from the radio for while.  David even seemed to know when he needed to calm down again and simply snuggled up close, pulling the blanket over us both, and started playing with my hair.

I never got on the floor with them like old times, I barely moved, and I couldn’t even sit up, but we had a lot of fun anyway and made memories all three of us now treasure.  Last night I was reminded it’s not so much in what we can or can’t do, but in finding a way to make the most of what we can do and putting our heart into it, that make moments turn into bonding time and treasured memories.  So I can’t wrestle around on the floor with them anymore or help them build extensive forts and crawl in after them.  I can’t get down on their level and play in their world of endless trains, blocks, and other toys like I used to. It may even be a long time still before I can take them back on our favorite outings like the zoo or museum.  But thanks to one little mischievous and laughter filled smile, and my kids meeting me half way, all three of us discovered a new way to play together that brought the laughter back to it’s fullest.

The best part of it all?  What David said shortly afterward, when I recovered enough strength to move to the couch while they were watching one of their shows on the Roku…

“Mommy, I like spending time with you.”

I feel the same way about you buddy. ❤
.

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