Play hasn’t come easy for me. Some of you may be wondering how that is possible. After all doesn’t everyone like to play? As a young girl I loved to play with my friends. I remember really fun times with paper dolls, dress-up and hide-n-go-seek. Likewise I remember bath time was for fun and play until the time it wasn’t. That time changed everything as I left the bathroom…no longer feeling innocent and playful. An invitation to play took on a new meaning…one that caused me to be more vigilant before entering in to play again
As a young woman raising my own children I was more watchful with them and their playtime. That was good yet I was withholding myself and not playing with them. I watched and wondered how I was supposed to enter in and questioned if it was suppose to be fun. My body felt tight and restricted. I grew impatient with board games and cards. It was hard to concentrate and be present…my mind was elsewhere.
I can’t fully blame the incident in the bathroom for these feeling but it certainly played into them. Throughout those years I was also hiding an eating disorder. This occupied my mind with the fear of being found out. You see something was found out about me and my body in that bathroom. The luxury of being safe and free was lost from my life. It would take many years and total honesty before God and others for me to regain my playful spirit and to enjoy fun once again.
Today I am discovering that play looks differently than it did previously. I’ve needed help recognizing it and allowing myself to simply enjoy. John surprised me with Ashley 8 years ago. She is my dachshund who has brought much relaxation and comfort into my life. I’ve enjoyed playing with her…I enjoy her feisty spirit that opens up my heart. Six grandchildren have certainly called me out to delight in their play. They are so permission giving and simply relish the presence of their Mimi.
I’ll never forget the time Chloe invited me in to play with her. She was 4 years old. It was after her nap when she announced, “It’s Craft Time.” The hesitant look on my face said it all as proceeded to say, “Oh. Come. On. Mimi. It will be FUN!” I can honestly say that I wasn’t so sure about that. Inwardly I groaned and wondered if I was up to the task of “craft time”. Could I actually make it fun for her? She ransacked my drawers gathering her supplies: scissor, paper, glue, scotch tape, markers, crayons etc. Before I knew it we began: cutting, pasting, creating and laughing. We were having fun!
Obviously I haven’t forgotten my time with Chloe. She taught me something: I was wanted. I was enough. I was enjoyed. I’m realizing it is never too late to release the past and allow the present to take on something new and life giving. I am grateful for the ways play has re-entered my life. Some ways may seem unconventional yet they work for me.
My hope is that you will discover play for yourselves this summer. Be thinking about whom you will invite to play…likewise will you recognize the invitation to play when it is right before your eyes? I hope so. Give play a chance and discover anew the goodness of play in your life.
Mary Jane Hamilton has grown to love her sense of style and her peaceful lake living. Mother of 2 and grandmother of 6, she has a wonderful capacity to love and is still active as The Tooth Fairy. She is extremely fond of her dachshunds, who rarely venture from her lap, and enjoys biking with her husband of 44 years. She is rekindling her writing skills and finding it life giving.