15 Oct is it okay to have fun?
As a single mom, I was always including my son in my own activities… well, I write ‘including’ but what I really mean is ‘dragging.’ If you have kids, you know that it can be a challenge to stay relevant, hold their interest, and keep them engaged in family life. Sometimes they just don’t want to do what you want to do. Part of our job as parents is to stay connected, no matter how difficult, and share life with our children, not just coexist. It’s not enough to ‘dial it in’ – we absolutely have to be involved, engaged, attentive, checked in, and focused on their development. That’s not easy, especially doing it alone, but it is essential… and even then, you can’t guarantee how things will turn out.
I was fortunate to have a son who thought I was cool and enjoyed my company, but I still experienced my fair share of eye rolls and exaggerated sighs when I’d suggest a new family activity. I remember when I ‘invited’ (dragged) Mason to a 5K fun run in Irvine, CA. He moaned and groaned the whole way there, “Do I HAVE to???” He had no idea what he was in for! We were heading to The Color Run, a non-competitive 5K where runners are sprayed with colored chalk-like powder as they pass each kilometer mark. (If you haven’t heard of this run, you simply must look it up and find one to run! Or walk! Just go!) I described it to him, and I felt like it sparked his interest a teensy bit, but still he managed to resist and complain the whole way there.
When we arrived, we had to navigate through thousands of cars to find a spot and then walk what seemed like a gazillion miles just to find the check in line. This is when I saw the change in Mason. He absolutely LIT UP. He felt the energy, sensed the excitement that was building, and let that energy & excitement fill him too! I was thrilled! Successful parenting moment? Check! We met up with friends and thoroughly enjoyed the day. Mason was running ahead then running back to us, covered in colored powder, grinning from ear to ear. It’s one of my favorite memories! Fun runs became something Mason and I loved to do together. I continue to do them now, and I take Mason’s bright orange shoes with me or write his name on my arm or the number 14 on my face… as a symbol of having him run with me.
Enter: The Glow Run, 2013.
My friends and I registered under the team name “aMasongrace project’ and wore our aMg tee-shirts and tank tops, light up tutus, flashing rings, glow-in-the-dark bracelets, and neon face paint. It might seem silly, but it was just our little way of remembering Mason’s love of fun runs, and keeping him with us as we enjoy some of life’s fun moments. After the run, we danced in front of the stage to some awesome music (they had a great DJ…wish I had learned his name. He deserves a shout out!). As I was jumping up and down with my friends, letting the powerful beat alter the rhythm of my heart, watching the confetti fly and the bouncy balls get batted back and forth, I grinned from ear to ear! I wished with all my heart that Mason could have been there with me. THIS WAS FOR HIM. It was exactly the kind of free spirited event that he loved. Mason was a confident dancer, loved great music, and couldn’t wait to attend a rave when he was old enough! His plan was to dance all night long!*
I had such an amazing time! It was perfect. It reminded me that it is okay to have fun. It is permissible for me to laugh. It is beneficial for me to dance. It is essential for me to live, not just exist. I think it’s actually an intricate, often unrecognized, part of the healing process. Life is difficult, even brutal sometimes. The challenge, for me, is to grab on to those little glimpses of fun, those blinding flashes of joy, and hold on with everything I have. It is moments like these that carry me through some of the darkest, most difficult days. The Glow Run took place on Sunday night, October 13, 2013. The next morning was the very first Monday morning that I woke up without a feeling of intense sadness and dread. For that, I am thankful.
*To hear some of Mason’s music, check out the ‘About Mason’ page on the website. That playlist was blaring through my house every morning before school. Sometimes I play it just because I miss him and his noise.