“What do you want to do today Evan?” I ask him with just as much excitement as his three year old bright blue eyes are beaming with.
Of course, we could probably play Just Dance all day long if I let him.
My friend Sam thinks I was helping her out on this random Friday, when in reality she was handing me a gift. She was headed out of town for a girls weekend and her husband not quite back in town yet from business, and so I had a full day with their youngest son, Evan. We had the whole day to ourselves, just needed to be home in time sitting in the cul-de-sac for his two big brothers to get home from school.
And so we played Just(ine) Dance before heading out to ride the carousel and see butterflies (of course). He fell pretty hard at lunch, scaring me half to death before being completely cured by a few cuddles. We played games. Many, many games; three rounds of Candyland, half a round of Sorry! and three rounds of Memory to be exact.
“Oh yea, oh yea!” He says doing a wiggle victory dance as he literally scores 7 matches beating me in the game of Memory.
We finish our day looking at pictures and videos from the day while we wait for his brothers to get off the bus. As they run up Lane hands me his turkey art and Noah is asking to go to a friend’s house.
“Nope, we’re going to play together today, your dad will be home soon.” I say with the most motherly sternness I attempt to channel from Sam.
After a bit of moaning we settle on playing Battleship in teams…and we laugh.
And I feel myself fill up with the gift of childfull living.
She walks in with the look of yearning any child on the cusp of getting a gift they’ve been excited about would have. She hands me her handwritten thank you card, “Thank you Justiene for the costumes.”
And she immediately, follows up with the question, “Can we try them on now?”
I kneel down on her level and promise her, “We’re going to eat Thanksgiving lunch first and then we’ll get out all the costumes and you both can do a fashion show for us. For now, how about you go downstairs and play?”
With the true disappointment of crushed dreams, Hannah takes her sister Maya downstairs to play Just Dance.
It was their first Thanksgiving with us, as they were new, yet quick, friends of ours from church. We don’t have kids to enjoy the holidays with and my friend Izzy does not have her family here, so I asked them to Thanksgiving day with us when in reality I was basically asking them to become part of our chosen family.
After lunch, we all headed downstairs, my parents included, to go through the massive trunk of dance costumes from my childhood. Costumes ranging from when I started dance at age 4 to when dance was taken away by two back surgeries at age 13.
The memories flooded me in songs and steps as I pulled out each costume for Hannah and Maya to run to the bathroom to try on. They both would run/skip/saunter/dance out to show off how each costume looked on them.
The steps Maya made up in the emerald green with gold beads and green feathers. The twirl Hannah spun with the red ballet skirt flowing out from her. The pure joy on everyone’s face, especially theirs and most definitely mine.
One of the only ways I have thrived after failed infertility treatments is by making sure to have children in my life. Creating this childfull life means I am not left a shell of a mother, it means defining my own happy ending.
It is a true gift, this childfull life; a gift I must ask for, a gift I must receive and a gift that has not come without the cost of loss.
But a gift it is; a gift of grace.