At this year’s middle school PHAT camp (meeting People, Hanging out, Adoring God, and Touring the metroplex), we built the most awesome thing ever: a ga-ga pit. Ga-ga is a game played in an octagon shaped enclosure with a 3 foot wall. This project was exciting because I was in on it from the beginning. I saw the kids fall in love with the game on a retreat. I saw the idea to build a pit at the church born in the imagination of a fellow youth minister. I witnessed all the planning of the pit construction- from the miraculous donations of materials right down to the angel who showed up at the 11th hour with the expertise needed to actually build the structure. I watched the youth dig out grass, haul wood, and hammer nails in 100+ degree weather. Finally, at the end of the week, the pit was built and the game was on. How could I not get in on the fun?
I jumped over the wall. Immediately, I felt a twinge of a familiar pain in my lower back- my back hasn’t been quite right since the birth of my youngest. Naturally, I ignored it. I wanted to play. The pain was just a twinge and I can certainly get over it. So, I played. In order to play, one must spend the majority of the game in a crouched over position protecting one’s feet and shins while in constant motion- probably a chiropractor’s worst nightmare. It was fun although I was easy prey. The kids relished getting the adults out quickly and, in my case, somewhat easily. Anyhow, I played a few rounds. When I stood up and straightened out my back after the final round, I realized how dumb I had been. I was in serious pain. I spent the next two days on the sofa or in a hot bath- two days to come to terms with the fact I am no longer a spring chicken.
This summer, I turn 35. I can’t claim to be in my early thirties and that makes my twenties seem like ages ago. In addition to my back issues, my eyes seem to be losing their youth (It’s either that or my arms are getting shorter). And, after trying different kinds of make-up with no success, I am now seriously shopping for that magic cream to erase the lines around my eyes. But the real stinger was when I realized the high school youth that out-played me at ga-ga were born the year I graduated from high school. Yes, I am O.L.D.
My two boys are 7 years apart. I had my oldest when I was 22 and my youngest when I was 29. As a 22 year old mom, I was certain I was the youngest parent ever. I felt as if I had no clue what I was doing. The mommy wars scared me half to death and in an effort to over-accommodate, my poor son was sheltered from everything from T. V. to candy. When I had my youngest, I was a 29 year-old seasoned parent and educator. So, my youngest has gotten to play in the dirt, taste everything from chocolate to dog food and been educated thoroughly in the ways of Spongebob and his square pants. So, I guess age has loosened me up a little but I’m not sure it has made me any wiser or better at parenting.
When I was younger, I thought that when I reached this point in my life, I will have had a few things figured out. But the truth is, I don’t. I know that my experiences have brought me maturity, but I still don’t know if what I’m doing with my children is the “right” thing. Will my older son be wiser or make better decisions because I made so many of his decisions when he was younger? Will my younger son be more of a risk taker or have more confidence because I let him explore things more independently? I don’t know, only time will tell.
In the meantime, I should probably stay out of the ga-ga pit. A visit to the eye doctor would be wise. And hopefully, I’ll find that eye cream soon. But, most importantly, I’ll keep hitting my knees and loving these two boys with all my heart. That is the best thing this not-so-wise-35-year-old Mommy can do- love them and lead them to the source of love itself.