June 3, 2010
So, my girls asked me to come outside and turn the jump rope for them yesterday. No problem. What fun to see them chanting rhymes from my childhood - "Cinderella, dressed in yella, went upstairs to kiss her fella, made a mistake, kissed a snake, how many doctors did it take? 1-2-3..." Of course, there were new ones I hadn't heard - Strawberry Shortcake and Ice Cream Social. They took turns holding the other end of the rope and jumping.
The simple joy they got from such a simple activity took me back to my childhood - back to a time when my most difficult decision was what game to play on a summer afternoon. The days of waking up late to the sunshine peeking through my curtains. A lazy breakfast with my brothers. Jumping on our bikes and heading out to explore the neighborhood. Playing in the woods behind our subdivision. Riding to QuikTrip for a Slushie and Sweet Tarts. Chasing each other through the sprinkler. Swinging and sliding on the playground. Racing around the block. Playing kickball in the culdesac. Ah, the freedom. The freedom of being a child with no responsibilities, no worries, a time before I knew heartache.
"Mommy, it's your turn," my girls said. My youngest took the rope from me. I hesitated for a second, then started jumping at their coaxing. As they chanted the Cinderella rhyme, that freedom filled me up again. Their laughter was contagious. It was that pure and simple joy. I felt like Cinderella at the ball - young and beautiful and full of life.
I finally had to stop. I was out of breath from the jumping and giggling. I took the rope back from my youngest...and then my coach turned back into a pumpkin. Someone forgot to remind me that I'm over 40. A sharp pain shot through my lower back and wouldn't go away. I doubled over as I was turning the rope. "I'm too old to be doing this," I told my girls. They laughed. But I sucked it up and kept playing.
They say you're only as old as you feel. Well, I didn't feel so hot physically after jumping rope, but I felt a million times younger in spirit. And that little glass slipper I now carry in my pocket is a constant reminder to revisit my childhood on a regular basis. It not only keeps me young, but also keeps me closer to my kids. And that's so worth it.