Sunday, July 22, 2007
From my vacation journal, written on 7/19/07.
On our last full day camping, we went to the bayside beach, where the water is warm and shallow. For me, it was a bittersweet day because I will soon return to my regular life, albeit the summer edition. And though it's been a year since I became a single parent, the challenge is still great. But this day was a day for fun. At this beach, the boys can walk far out in the water because there are long sandbars. The boys feel daring and fierce but I feel they are safe. And that there is a happy parenting combination.
As she does most days when the boys are in the water, my friend S swam out to play with them. They love to watch her swim in the ocean and they know that she will take them even further from the shore. Today she played that she was a shark come to get the boys and I could hear their screaming laughter as they swam away from the shark (though mostly they taunted her to come and get them).
When they weren't expecting it, I snuck in and played shark mom for a bit myself. To me, shark mom and any number of other made-up games are the essence of parenthood. One of my favorite childhood games was playing restaurant. My sister and I ran the show and served my father a lunch of deviled egg sandwiches. We made him order the sandwiches off of a hand-made menu that featured any number of exotic dishes. As I recall, he would order everything on the menu but for the egg salad, which he knew to be the only available item. That he played along with us made the game that much more thrilling. I want to be that kind of parent more often.
There are still six weeks of summer left before JT and I return to the school year. That life, though rewarding, is sometimes a grind. A single parent has to get the business of life taken care, with no expectation of help from a partner. Only when the lunches are packed and the laundry is (mostly) caught up, is there time to play games and have some laughter. That's when I get to play shark mom. I hope that next year I'll have more time to play those silly mama games. Because I think that they add up to a collection of happy childhood memories; the kind that will last my son a lifetime.
Thanks to my friend S and her son D for the inspiration, not to mention the shark mom game.