The Very Real Need for Play: Mother/Daughter Silliness

The reality is that as we get older, problems snowball. Our health issues increase. Our losses grow ever larger. Life happens, and we make our way through it with ever increasing baggage, baggage that has the potential to weigh us down until we can no longer even wade our way through the day.

We can allow our situations and our disabilities to overwhelm us, burden us, make us bitter victims. Or we can give them the metaphorical finger. We can be humbled by the challenges and grateful for the good moments and work to make more of them. Or we can do the last two together, and I think that for the most part, my mother and I choose that latter: a giant frak you to the issues that sometimes literally hobble us, to pain that's never gone, to joints that ache and refuse to bend to our will, and to all the major issues and crippling diseases that my mother faces everyday. I won't pretend my health issues rise to her level, that my pain is comparable, that I have it as "bad," but I have my share of health issues that complicate and frustrate and make some days a marathon--can I make it to the end of the day? We share our issues with each other and provide support so that we are never alone in our battles.

This is where play and laughter come in. Play is vitally important in restoring the soul. PLAY. It takes many forms, and each person will find his or her own way of rejuvenating, of playing. For me, it's dress up. It's funky wigs and messing with people's expectations. It's choosing an identity and running with it.

My parents are working out what their retirement will look like, how they will fill their days and time, so they've been camping the last two weeks--they've set their little trailer up at a lake a couple hours away and have spent the weekdays there, coming home for the weekends. It's odd to not have them there each day, and the reality is that I miss them. It's shaken the rhythm of my days and left a hole. They are my friends, my confidants, my support, and it's natural that it's taking some time to figure out how to handle that, to reconfigure my life and schedule to that change.

Play. It comes back to that, and making the most of the time we do spend together. For my mom and me yesterday, it meant me bringing four of my wigs over and playing dress-up and getting Dad involved in taking pictures.

Its effects last long past the actual play, especially when you take pictures.

Much of what we do in life is a choice. We can choose to be mired in our miseries, or we can choose to rise above them. We can cut ourselves some slack, acknowledge the fresh hurts, the struggles, and do the grieving necessary as we find ourselves facing more roadblocks, and then we can choose to move on, to give into play, which leads to joy.

Yes, oftentimes, our lives are truly bittersweet. We move through our days filled with pockets of sadness and frustration that threaten to overwhelm us. Play gives us a chance to move past that, to laugh, to find joy.

Yesterday, Mom and I played, and it was good. It was joy. May each and everyone of you find your play, your pockets of joy. Build those up, hold onto them, and the moments of sadness will be tinged with the recognition that joy is truly just around the corner.


scintor said...

I am a big believer in having too much fun. I spend a lot of time driving my children not with puns. jokes, and just silly behavior. So, you go girl.

John Mark Donald

melbo said...

I am in total agreement with scintor.

And coveting that purple mermaid wig, just quietly. =)