I am experiencing the best part of life right now.
Let me explain.
When I was a teenager, I was visiting with a friend from church who was in her mid-thirties and had a young family. As I was helping her pack for a camping trip, she told me something like this: “Just you wait. Someday your life will be like this too. I can’t believe how old I feel…”
I responded by saying something like, “I look forward to being your age. By then, I hopefully will be married and have a few kids and we’ll be doing stuff together…as a family.”
When a family plays
I had in my head an ideal about what it’s like to raise a family and I was looking forward to it. I wanted to have that time and make those memories. I wanted the packed bags and loads of laundry; the grass-stained jeans and the dirty faces. Anything that showed my family was alive and well and we had fun doing life together. I’m sure I wasn’t naïve enough to believe that my life would be held in some perfect and unbreakable bubble, but I did expect more good than bad.
And you know what? I was right.
Now here I sit at age 32. I have a husband and three small kids. I have meals to plan and cook; a house to clean; groceries to buy; kids to feed, bathe, and clothe every day; and my own body to keep strong and healthy. I am a master juggler, keeping many pieces moving all day every day and trying not to let anything fall. Sometimes I’m exhausted by the end of the day just keeping up with it all (not to mention my four-month-old still isn’t sleeping through the night). I understand the fatigue behind my friend’s comment. “Just you wait,” she said. Indeed.
But I consider myself to be most blessed. My family is together. I have the privilege to be home to care for and raise my children, to teach them and play with them. I get to plan and prepare meals that I feel good about because I have the flexibility to build it into my day. I can set an example for my children and cultivate healthy habits in them because I have the time to do it and I’ve made it a priority.
Now that the weather has turned nice and it’s easy for me to be outside with my three littles, even by myself, play has taken center stage. And I am so grateful. This is what I’ve always wanted. I love seeing the sun pass through the hair of two curly-headed little girls as they run in circles, go down the slide, ride their bikes, and swing. I love helping my baby stand as her sisters romp through the yard around us and seeing her face light up with a smile every time I look at her. And I love, oh how I love, playing tag with my girls.
There is nothing like play, and I want my children’s days to be filled with it. I am so happy to hear my kids ask to go outside first thing in the morning and their desire to stay outside all day makes me smile, even if it isn’t practical. But to have the whole family head out our back door where the kids have an incredible opportunity to play is special. I want these moments engraved on my heart.
Preparing for future play
Because this time means so much to me and I want to encourage active play as much as possible, I’ve rearranged our home and schedule to make the most of it. Since my kids are too small to be outside unsupervised and I just can’t do that all day, I fixed our little room in the basement to give them a better play area. Once mid-morning hits, the kids go down to play while I exercise. We’re together, they’re playing, I’m exercising, and everyone is happy. It has given me a sense of freedom; freedom to do what needs to be done in the day without sacrificing my kids’ opportunity to play.
I am thankful for this opportunity to cultivate healthy habits in my kids, and I hope they are able to learn that from me. It is normal for my children to see my husband and I exercise and eat healthy foods, and it’s normal for them to be part of it because this is how we do life together. I hope beyond hope that they carry this with them into life, that as they become big kids, young adults, and then fully grown women with families of their own, that they remember the importance of taking care your health. When they stop doing that, they hurt their ability to play. And no matter how old they are, I want them to experience the joy of play.
Last week I shared a little bit about diastasis recti and how I am rehabbing my core through a program offered by Core Exercise Solutions (and my post is featured on their site – check it out!). Nothing has changed this week. I am still doing what I need to do to fully heal my body. I am constantly working on expanding my diaphragm 360 degrees when I inhale and maintaining good posture with my ribs stacked over my hips and my pelvis untucked. My body has to relearn how to do these basic things and it’s going slow. Changing from the inside out is hard!
(I even tried to balance a book on my head while cutting a watermelon. I do not recommend this, by the way. Challenging yourself to hold your head in proper alignment is a great thing. Doing that while needing to look down at a cutting board is not.)
Let there always be play!
I truly believe that an abundant life is available to each one of us but that we won’t get to experience that abundance if our bodies aren’t strong and healthy. So ladies, please, take care of your bodies so that you too can play for years to come.
In case you missed it, please check out the article on diastasis recti and the programs offered by Core Exercise Solutions. If you have diastasis recti or any pelvic floor issues, then get the help of a professional. You are worth it.