When I buy my children bubble wands, they carry out legendary sword fights; dueling bubbles, battling blades. When their warrior muscles grow weak, they shed their armor and transform into mild mannered scientists. They spread their bubble mixture across the grass and sand, blending, mixing and creating potions filled with magic and wonder.
When I buy my children sandbox toys, they set them aside in favour of rocks and sticks; the most authentic and trustworthy of childhood tools. Their shoes are their buckets, their hands are ready scoops. They are the builders and masons of the future.
When I buy my children expensive toys, they quietly tuck them away in order to make room for the boxes that they came in. They discuss building plans and architectural style in earnest. They become engineers, planning, designing and constructing the bridges, towers and highways of tomorrow.
If I give my children mud, they will build a majestic castle. With water, they will create a magnificent waterfall. If I give my children nature, they will discover adventure, independence, confidence and a chance at the kind of childhood that will shape them into creative, grounded people. If I give my children the time and freedom to play, to get bored, and to be themselves, they will explore, create, plan and invent. Their energy is boundless; their imagination is inspiring. They are children, and this is what they want most of all. How could I give them anything less?
Before I had kids, I had more free time than I knew what to do with. Weekends were a lovely mix of lazy mornings blending into sleepy afternoons, followed by evenings filled with a dizzying array of delightful choices. My time was mine, and I could do what I wanted with it. I ran when I felt like it, danced when I was in the mood, and wasted an embarrassing amount of time sitting in coffee shops trying to look intriguing. Most of the time though I was bored, and I took that boredom for granted. What I wouldn’t give to have a day to myself to feel bored again.
When I became a mom, my life changed in ways I never could have imagined. We had our three children fairly close together, so the past five years have been busy, all-consuming and, quite frankly, exhausting. They have also been years filled with love, laughter and unimaginable awesomeness, but somewhere along the way I lost myself. I started identifying as a mother first, wife second, and a woman last. I poured my soul into taking care of others and making sure their needs were met. My family’s happiness became an obsession, and before I realized what was happening, I stopped doing things for myself. I no longer went out in the evenings. I was too tired and worn out to do anything but collapse face first onto the couch at the end of the night. I gave up my hobbies, spent less and less time with friends, and began displaying hermit like characteristics.
I’m working on changing that now, and am slowly (well, at the same rate as time usually passes, as I have yet to master the power of time-bending) recovering from a five year ‘giving’ hangover. I’m toying with the idea of running again (though running and breathing at the same time seems laughable now). I have also been contemplating taking up yoga, but I looked into all the different yoga studios nearby, and have discovered that I may need to sacrifice a kidney in order to afford any kind of membership. Even then I’ll still need to lower my expectations and sniff out some kind of shady, off the books, back alley yoga class. The kind of class where all the yoga poses are screamed out in rapid fire staccato yell, while some smarmy guy with a mustache stands in the shadows making secret videos for his backroom movie collection.
It’s a work in progress.