Our plane just took off and we are climbing to 36,000 feet. I’m sitting next to my son who thinks this trip to Florida is ‘his’ vacation. It’s not. It is to celebrate my upcoming 57th birthday this Memorial Day weekend.
What he doesn’t know yet is that I plan to frolic in the sand, splash around like a breaching whale and dig holes so deep I might be able to find China.
In essence, to behave like a kid, just like he will. Without his help, I would not have learned how to do that!
Never Too Old
My wife and I became parents later in life — I was 50 years old. I had always longed to be a parent, but the timing wasn’t right until then and in hindsight, I am very glad it worked out the way it did.
In my parents generation, most couples were married in their twenties and if you weren’t married by thirty there was a high probability you wouldn’t be. Certainly not that it was a bad thing, but that is how it was.
It’s amazing how within one generation the norm can change. For my generation, I have many friends who knew they wanted to be parents, but didn’t start the discussion with their partners until their thirties and many waited until closer to forty to do so.
What I have come to realize is your age is not a defining number; it is your spirit and your actions that define you.
While I ‘ve always been courageous and adventurous, I’ve never been a kid at heart. When I look back on my life, I see that I took on a more serious role at a young age — the mother hen, the big sister, the worrywart, maybe just a reincarnated old soul from another lifetime and certainly the reflective one.
I liked myself this way and thought there was nothing wrong with being this way until one day I got a reality check.
How You Feel On The Inside Is How You Look On The Outside
For about six months, he would ask me, “Are you mad Mutti?” I said, “No I’m not Daniel, why do you ask?” And his reply was “your face looks like you are mad.”
There are so many things I took away from his observation and this couldn’t have been more of a wake-up call for me.
I tried to explain to him I was focused, not mad, but then I had to ask myself what was I so focused on? Why did I need to be focused (I have less stress in my life than most people), couldn’t I just be relaxed and centered? Was it possible I was actually mad?
Could I just be goofy (like him) and have a belly laugh (like him) instead of a conservative sounding “ha, ha”? Pop bubble wrap with abandonment and deconstruct the living room using every available pillow in the house to make the world’s greatest fort?
The answer, quite simply, is YES!
I realized, I did not want my son to remember me as the serious, contemplative, laser focused parent (which I can be). There is no fun it that. It’s not being vulnerable, playful, creative or imaginative. I want to be remembered as that AND as a parent who can engage in a food fight and not worry about the mess, who can make mud pies for the tea party outside or watch Star Wars movies fifteen days in a row and act like it was the first time, every time.
“I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”
My Son the Teacher
Children, and in specific my son, are imaginative, spontaneous, playful, creative and born with open hearts. I’m sure at one time or another I was too – I just don’t remember it.
However, that isn’t the point. The point is, I have a six year old in my life who is providing me with all the permission in the world and rich opportunities to play with abandon in either a real or fantasy world.
When I am with him and engaged in playtime I feel connected, young, and alive and like a kid. My heart is open, my mind is creative and I feel no pressures or boundaries.
Thank you Daniel for being my playmate.