This afternoon I texted back and forth with an old friend who I have seen more this year than I have in the seventeen years prior. We were making plans for the next night and she suggested inviting one of her other friends.
“Should I invite her?”
“Sure! She is fun. Will she play?”
“Yes, play. LOL. Like being a kid all over again. More fun to play and not have to be all grown up.”
You see, this is a secret I have found out this year… about ten years into parenting and eighteen years into being an adult. We MUST play.
Being born a Capricorn, I fit the bill – serious, disciplined, sure-footed. I have had a five-year plan since I have been about eight and have often been told I need to relax. Making a spectacle of myself is not my forte. That has changed this summer. I now recognize the importance of playing.
Last night was not the norm. In a grand total of seventeen hours, a group of four of us, one being a complete stranger to me, packed into a car and took a two and a half hour trip to the Macklemore and Kesha concert in Indiana, spent the night, and drove home on two hours of sleep for work at 9 am. Sure, it took the largest latte I could buy with three shots of espresso to make it through the day, but the pay off for how alive and happy my soul feels… worth it.
Here’s the deal… our carload didn’t quite make sense. We spanned a decade in ages from the youngest to oldest, some unmarried with no kids, some stay at home moms, one cake decorator, two in Human Resources, two whose kids were at home with dads, one whose kids were going to grandparents…all looking for simple fun, to live it up, to laugh and make memories. To play.
And that we did. At thirty-six, I un-apologetically put hair chalk in (which does AMAZING on the grey, I must add), allowed the former make-up artist to paint eyebrow pencil (stain, shadow… I can’t tell you what it was) in my eyebrows for the first time ever, waited as my co-worker/friend tried to add a feather to my hair, made cat eyes with scotch tape and let my former spirit-days come through as I applied glitter to my eyes and body. Seriously – not just any glitter. Glitter that would make the former dELiA*s massively jealous.
When we got to the concert, we saw a lack of rallying for Kesha/Macklemore (apparently the Cincy concert brought the glam, so we came prepared), yet could not have cared less. Ten years ago, I would have been beyond self-conscious but something about this stage of life, I didn’t care. I cared more about the amazing pics that were to come and being aware of how the glint of cell-phones would dance off the sparkles glued to my face. Within moments, we heard Thrift Shop and ran to the lawn.
From what came of this moment was amazing – it was making friends with random concert go-ers we would never see again, it was singing at the top of our lungs and not caring if we looked silly spinning, jumping, snort-laughing. It was walking in circles in the parking lot trying to get Uber to pick us up, only to basically turn down our driver not realizing it was him. It was random hotel room neighbors we chatted up with after the concert while waiting on midnight pizza (the best kind), it was the sickening recognition that a cell phone was left in the Uber and using “find my iPhone” to pinpoint where the cell was and then showing up at that house at 6am to try to retrieve the lost phone (probably not the best idea). It was making friends with the Uber driver who Saturday-delivered the phone since our friend needed it to get all her business orders off of. It was epic and memorable.
And it was EXACTLY what we forget to do when we are moms.
Because somehow when we are moms, we forget to play for ourselves, also. We spend, willingly, most of our time worrying about getting to practices, planning birthday parties, raising considerate and strong children, making sure all the calendars are in line and sometimes balancing work and volunteering and school events, sometimes attending PTA meetings and maybe dusting, hoping to water the plants, let alone weed them, paint and clean when necessary and take pictures and make photo albums and be all of that. When is there time to play? When is there simply us?
I get it – with small kids, it is hard to find, or justify, the time. My own are getting to the age where I can sneak away for a random seventeen hours. I also have a lovely husband who tends to be a bit introverted and needs the moment of silence to re-energize and so says, “Go have fun.” Still, due to his job, I often need to find a sitter to have these moments. If you have family in town, that is perfect but if not, there are many school contacts who could suggest responsible individuals, local teenage lifeguards know CPR/choking protocol/first aid or just MOPS referrals or PTA friends probably have suggestions if you are struggling for who to ask.
However you find help, remember, we NEED to play. We need to giggle and remember we are fun and our spirits are still our own. Our souls must become immersed with pure energy for a moment. In doing so, we connect and relate to that beautiful energy that is within the youth of our children. We teach them that they need to honor this, and keep it, and value the fire that burns in them… the same fire that makes us sing awful and loud to Downtown with 16,000 other voices. That positivity then only pays forward to those we love with all of our beings.
So be a Mom… be the very best mom you can be. With that, be you. Be the person that your partner fell in love with. Be the person that makes you laugh at the memories. Find friends who make you come alive both with and without kids so when the day comes they are grown, you haven’t forgotten you. Teach your kids it is okay to honor when their souls need to let go and be free and how to balance that against giving their energy and time to others.
Go play, just like when you were a kid. Go under at the pool. Do a cannonball. Dance at the concerts. Wear glitter. Go on a crazy 24 hour girlfriend trip. Sing at the top of your lungs to Alanis Morissette (we all do). Find friends like and unlike you, and balance that all against everything you do every single day.
You deserve to.