She was a sweet, kind, quiet mother of seven children and grandmother of a growing brood. She smiled and cooed, she cooked and cared for all, but for the first years I knew her, she never laughed.
Until I stomped.
Do any of you remember the song, “Pretty Little Angel Eyes”?
Well, my MIL certainly didn’t. Nor did my sisters-in-law/brothers-in-law who happened to be in the living room with the two of us when the song came on.
Why we were listening to an oldies station, I can’t remember. Why nine of us were in the small room on a grumpy April afternoon, I have no idea.
But I see the sun scuttling into the gray blue room, directing a beam on me when suddenly a song on the radio makes me erupt into a gleeful squeak and I begin to stomp.
The years roll away and I’m back in the 8th grade dance when Susie Owen teaches me the toe-heel step, almost skip-like but staying in place, definitely a joyful happy dance.
But my dancing memories and concentration are interrupted by a huge roaring belly laugh. I look up in surprise. In the corner armchair sits my quiet serene mother-in-law, laughing so hard her eyes are full of astonishment at the sounds she’s making.
Her adult children stand in shocked silence first, and then they all begin to laugh as I continue the stomp.
I wonder briefly if they’re laughing AT me or WITH me.
But I don’t care.
My mother-in-law is laughing!
This April morning, 15 years later, I reminisce about the importance of play. My guess is that there was too little of it in my MIL’s life. Her laughter at my dance was a gut-wrenching reaction to the courage of another adult to get out there and P L A Y. Many of us are so ingrained in thinking play is only for children, but really, we adults need it even more.
For instance, I find myself dancing sometimes while waiting in line at the grocery store.
Or, if I’m not quite as cheerful some days, I stand in the yogic tree pose, one foot on my knee, the other foot grounded on the floor while the clerk whisks through my asparagus and canned soup, my pasta and paper towels.
Playing makes the wait and the chores so much more fun.
And you know how some of us are afraid to say we have “fun” at work?
What’s with that? I love my hours of sitting in front of the computer, writing. I admit, it’s play time for me.
My blogging friend Mike Allegra (heylookawriterfellow) has found that besides writing, he doodles for fun. And he’s surprised to find out that his followers absolutely love his doodles. He’s up to his ears in doodling for work…and P L A Y.
How about you? How do you play? And… are you playing enough?