I grew up in California, which was not easy for a pasty girl who loves to layer. But, one thing I did love was swimming. We didn't have a pool, but had many friends and neighbors who did. I spent many hours in the pool playing Marco Polo, doing tricks, playing with tubes, splashing, and just having fun.
As I grew older the swimming turned from playing in the pool, to basking by the side of the pool, lathered in suntan lotion. That was before they called it sunscreen. Yep, in the eighties it was all about getting tan. It only took a few painful episodes, however, to come to the realization that I had two colors: red and white.
As a mom, my pool side basking morphed into life-guard duty slash referee as my gaggle of kids (yes, three feels like twelve in a pool) splashed, thrashed, played, and fought. I would dip into the pool some of the time, but as my weight grew, so did the time spent outside the pool.
A few weeks ago we had a 'heat wave' here in the Northwest. The temperature hit almost 90, and we were dying. A friend invited me and the kids over to swim in her in-ground swimming pool (one of like three in our entire county. Who needs a year-round pool in Washington?)
We packed up our stuff and headed on over. I slathered on sun-block and settled into my spot next to the pool as the children played. They had a blast, and I enjoyed myself as well. . . until I got hot. Really hot.
So, I dipped my feet into the pool. And it felt good. I inched my way in until the water reached my neck, and it felt great. I ducked me head under--holding myself still for just a moment to soak in the coolness-- and it felt wonderful.
I bobbed around and floated on a pool mattress while the children played around me. After about an hour, I was about to get out when the kids decided to play a game called Shark. The little kids were excited because it was about the only game the big kids would actually play with them (think Marco Polo combined with tag on a group level with sharks). As I was making my way out of the pool, my son's friend (who is sixteen and hilarious) turns to me and says, "Hey, do you wanna play?"
A laugh escaped my lips. I don't think anyone has looked at me and asked, "Do you wanna play?" since I was kid. It sounded funny, but not as funny as how it made me feel. Suddenly, from somewhere deeper than the deep end of the pool, emerged a child-like giddiness. They want to play with me. And that little girl inside me wanted to play with them.
And I did.
We played for over a hour, chasing, laughing, yelling, and swimming. For a while, I felt the joy of the pool I had experienced when I was a kid, and I loved it!
That got me thinking about life.
As a kid, most of us played. We ran, laughed, pretended, and had a great time. Then we grew up. It's the natural way of things. Batting adolescent eyelashes and flexing budding muscles replaced Barbies and GI Joes. Then, dating, marriage and parenthood come. Budgets, deadlines, and chores replace games, pretend play, and fun.
But, somewhere along the way we can get stuck on the proverbial side of the pool, and forget that there is still fun to be had, and life to be lived.
We can become so mired down by our grown-up ways that we either forget, or don't think, that playing is for us anymore.
Oh, but it is! God intends for us not only to have joy in life, but to have good, clean, fun. It doesn't necessarily have to be in a pool with kids (but I highly recommend that it). If you are stressed out with financial burdens, bummed out by politics, exhausted by mothering duties, or down for any other reason, I say to you . . . "Hey, do you wanna play?"
Come on! Jump in. The water's warm. Splash around, laugh a little.
Of course we don't have a real pool to jump into--but jumping in and playing in your life may look like grabbing the kids and going to a movie. Or playing a board game. Or going out to lunch with a friend. You could steal your spouse away for a spontaneous date, or simply play the radio loud with the windows down while singing out loud.
Do something fun today. Play and laugh like you did when you were a kid. Lighten up, lighten your load, and give yourself permission to laugh.
Having fun--yes, playing-- is a part of life, even the life of a grown-up. So, do something fun today. Then, will you do me a favor, and come back here and tell me? That would be fun for me!!
Till next time . . .