No matter my best intentions, I am pretty good at not getting out. Every spring, as summer approaches, I plan on doing all these incredible outdoor activities. I want to go to festivals, parks, outdoor fun events that are low in cost and high in fun. And then, the days unravel and summer is unspooled and….well….I can count on no hands how many festivals I attended, all the outdoor fun events in which I participated.
I get nervous. I’m tired. I’m uncertain about where to go or where to park or what I’m going to do once I get to wherever it is that I am going to go.
The kids show no enthusiasm.
We have tons of other commitments.
So many reasons why I can’t do whatever it is that I am planning on doing.
And, then, today arrived. Pat and I are spending time with my parents and they told Pat and me about a concert in a local park. We looked at one another, shrugged with a combination of interest and indifference. We grabbed the kids, loaded them into the car, and went to explore.
Arriving in the downtown area, we first went to an ice cream parlor where I was able to get a scoop of my favorite toasted coconut. And then we walked. Around the block. Down to a shopping area that is nothing more than a collection of old docks and wharfs that have been converted into a mall. To a tourist-trap store that sells tacky t-shirts and prank toys that shock people when they push the right button.
And then we went to the actual park with a frisbee that we had purchased from the tourist-trap store, found a perfect trapezoid of shade, and started passing the frisbee back and forth.
At first, Pat was the only person who could actually send the frisbee in an intended direction. But then, the Boy gained some confidence or the athleticism that Pat and I can not understand how he has those skills as neither of us are good at any form of sports (unless you count eating as a a sport….and even then, I’ll never win any competition with that). And then, even the Girl and I were sending the frisbee on wobbly archs around the oblong circle that was created by my family.
After a few minutes and several bad throws, the music started, a couple of turning swoops through chords and before settling on a single note. And the music swung through the park and settled around Pat and our children and me. And as we threw the frisbee among the four of us, Pat and I stood in our polar corners and danced.
For Pat, he mainly just shook his hips in the traditional middle-aged-man-I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing-dance. And me? Well, I did the Gracelesscurran shuffle, the Gracelesscurran foxtrot, the Gracelesscurran charleston. I shuffled back and forth, did a few jiggly twists, shimmied around my quadrant as I caught the frisbee, flicked my fingers and wrist, and sent the disc off to my son, to my daughter, to my husband, sometimes all three given how wild my swings could be.
Pat hates heat. He’s not wild about organized sports/games. Usually, when the Boy wanted to do something athletic, Pat was the last person to go outside and toss the ball back and forth. It’s not that he’s a horrible father, far from it. Sports or activities that are generally related to sports are not high on his priority list (unless those sports are something quiet like fishing or hiking or camping or slow recumbent biking).
So the fact that we were outside, while it was warm, tossing a frisbee around while dancing in our own sections of the play field, well, that was a bit important to me.
We don’t have gobs of time that can be considered “family time.” It’s not for lack of trying. It’s because our jobs have conflicting schedules. And then, the additional activities that we have taken on create an even greater conflict in terms of finding the time and ability to have quality time together, much less with our children.
We love our children. Completely and utterly. People might not always see it. Pat’s and my value system precludes our children having beautiful cell phones and all the coolest and niftiest gadgets that all of the other kids want or love. Our kids have been raised by parents who are a bit weird and are not the best about making sure that every opportunity for education has been grabbed and used to the fullest.
But, this afternoon, as we tossed the frisbee from person to person, as the frisbee swung across the lawn and into my hands, I didn’t feel guilty because I wasn’t always doing this with my children. I didn’t feel guilty that my husband and I were perfect parents.
At that moment, I merely loved and relished the experience of throwing the frisbee at my son, at my daughter, or at my husband. And I loved how I got over my silly anxiety of being hurt by the frisbee (yes, I really did…you are welcome to judge me) and enjoyed those fluid moments when I would catch the frisbee and, in the space from turning to face my son to facing my daughter, I was able to twitch the frisbee around in my hands and throw it to my girl.
I kind of felt cool, like maybe I wasn’t a chubby, awkward middle-aged woman and was actually someone who could do something well…even if it was a temporary graceful moment of throwing a glow-in-the-dark disc.
My world is punctuated by simplistic moments. It doesn’t take me a lot to stop and take notice and realize that my world is good and filled with goodness. And today, as we tossed around a two dollar frisbee picked up out of a clearance bin at a tourist-trap store, I luxuriated in the simple joy of playing frisbee in the park while a local band played Big-Band and Dixie Jazz.