May: Play is Serious Business

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Happiness

Just as we’re starting to think about school getting out for the summer, we come to the month of May, which is the time for getting serious about play.

a) Find more fun. I’m already working on this. After many years of putting off vacations and other things “until I have the spare cash,” I’ve finally given in and decided that I can’t wait. I need to take those trips; I need to go to those events; I need to do those things that I want – NOW – because life is not guaranteed as recent events have shown all too poignantly. I need to do all the wonderful things I talk about with my husband and son because someday one of us might not be around to partake. I want my son to have wonderful memories of a crazy, hectic upbringing with lots of smiles; I don’t want his memories to be of us always waiting until the perfect moment for fun.

With that in mind, I started this year with Legoland:

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And the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World:

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My cool little dude proclaimed it to be “the best vacation I’ve ever had!”

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Last weekend we drove to New York City for a couple of days. Although we couldn’t get out to Liberty Island to see Lady Liberty, or Ellis Island since all are closed due to damage sustained during Hurricane Sandy last October, we made a stop in Battery Park and he was able to see the Statue of Liberty from a distance.  I was able to get some really great photos of my reluctant photo subject.

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So, even when Ernie Hemingway blanches at cost and says we should just go to New Hampshire, I will push ahead and get the best bargains on travel that I can. After all, college students travel on a shoestring, so why can’t we? Besides, I’d rather travel the world with my little boy than eat out at fancy restaurants, drive fancy cars (although both Ernie and I do love the mom-mobile), wear fancy clothes, or have all the material possessions in the world. It’s the experiences I can give my family that will really matter in the end, the ones that my little boy will remember the most when he’s all grown and has a family of his own, the ones we all will remember long after the sun has set and we’re alone with our thoughts.

b) Take time to be silly. This is my favorite task as I can just continue being me without feeling any guilt whatsoever. I can have as many dance parties with my little guy as I want. I can sing along with him at the top of my lungs while he butchers the lyrics to his favorite songs. I can paint his toenails and put his hair in a top-of-the-head ponytail (Pebbles Flintstone style) while we’re hanging out on a rainy day. I can play silly games with him and laugh.

My little man loves, Loves, LOVES to sing. His very favorite thing to do during long car rides is plug into my iPad with headphones and perform his very own version of karaoke. I laugh so hard the tears run down my face. All the while I’m singing along with him. He told me yesterday that he was going to be a professional singer. You’ve got to love those childhood dreams.

c) Go off the path. Here’s where I have the most trouble. If I am really honest with myself, I tend to play it safe. Until I left the practice of law for good, I never left a job without having one already lined up. Except for walking out of my first marriage, whenever I’ve ended a relationship, I’ve always had a friend to lean on who turned to something more. For most of my adult life, I’ve been worried about other people’s opinions, what other people think when they see me. Since my first marriage, I’ve always treaded lightly in relationships, afraid of stepping too far over the line, pushing my partner too far (my first marriage, its dissolution, and the ramifications thereof are topics for another day, another post – or several hundred posts).

Although I wanted to go to New York City for college (Barnard College), I let my mother’s apprehensions and opinions dictate instead of simply claiming my life as my own and figuring out how to get into and pay for Barnard on my own. I wish I had really known then what I know now: that while she may have been angry at me and scared that I would meet with harm in NYC, she would have still loved me and making that break might have given her more reason to respect me as an adult. Despite having wanted to live in NYC or San Francisco or London since I was old enough to conceptualize it, and having had the opportunity to relocate to all of those places at least once each during my professional career, I’ve never moved more than 10 or 12 miles outside of Boston. In fact – and this won’t mean much to anyone who doesn’t know the Boston area well – until Ernie Hemingway and I bought our house four years ago, I had never lived outside the 128-belt, including college and graduate school. Now I’m at the first exit past the Weston tolls on the Mass Pike. Woo hoo!

Daring, that’s me. Not! But I need to learn to be daring because I don’t want my son to live as I have, safely and fearing rocking the boat. I want him not just to dream, but to pursue those dreams with a passion, and not contain them to a small geographic range because he’s afraid of upsetting me. I want him to pursue those dreams knowing that even as I’m sad because I don’t see him every day, I embrace his dreams right along with him. I want him to know that even when he upsets me, I still love him more than life, and I would give up anything and everything to preserve for him the opportunity to live out his dreams.

d) Start a collection. I have a collection. Many collections, actually. What I think I need to do is re-invigorate my existing collection of music boxes, and use up my collection of matchbooks. I need to organize my collection of tchotchkes, memorabilia, and photos so I can actually reminisce when I look through them instead of getting hives just thinking about them.

This goes hand in hand with my being a product junkie. I’m slowly using up all of my extraneous products, and finding the ones I really like along the way, and I’ve got to do something similar with my collections. I need to cull through and release the damaged pieces of my collections (or use them, in the case of  my matchbooks), trusting that the memories they bring will stay with me even without the physical reminder. Especially that snow globe with the little amoeba-like mold ball floating around in it.

** I originally posted this on May 6, but I’ve been told by a few people that the link leads nowhere, so I’m reposting.  Unfortunately, however, the original text seems to have vanished from my admin site, so I had to recreate via memory (which I willingly admit can be a bit spotty these days), so if anyone by chance read the original post and has it somewhere, I apologize for any differences and I would love to have the original if you are able to get it back.

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Filed under Just Life, Parenting

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