So what do you do when your toddler asks you to dance in the living room? You accept the invitation; You dance. This is probably a no brainer for most people. Nope, not me. My days were so consumed with the day to day tasks of taking care of two small children and my ailing health that I usually did not dance with my kids when asked. They were inviting me into their world and I was “too busy” to say yes.
There were plenty of times I would sit and play with them, but more often than I care to admit, I would suggest they find something else to play with or “mama will watch this time”, while I was cooking or cleaning up something. My role is simply not just child entertainer. I have a whole household to keep afloat.
Something changed the week I was diagnosed with cancer. I feared that I wouldn’t be around to see my children dance. I feared that they would remember a mama who didn’t dance with them, didn’t laugh with them, or didn’t play with them – if they remembered me at all. (They were 2 and 1 at the time of my diagnosis.) That thought broke my heart. While I wrestled with my fears, I eventually won that battle and refused to let those negative thoughts creep in my day. The lesson that cancer taught me that week was, if I keep saying no to their invitations, they will quit asking. They are inviting me into their world. This is my opportunity to know them.
They were too young to know what cancer was and I was truly blessed by their ignorance. Although my world just got turned upside down, they had no idea. Their demands kept my mind busy and preoccupied. I didn’t have much time to think about the “what ifs” of my health because I was busy with the “what nows”. What do they need now? They still needed breakfast and to be nursed, and diapers changed, and favorite blankets to be found, and stories to be read. They forced me to press on with my days. They kept me sane. They needed me, but they also wanted me. They wanted me to dance with them and play dress up and cars.
So I did.
I played. I danced. I let the housework go and LIVED.
I refused to let one more day go by without fully living it. I said yes to my children more than I said no. I discovered that laughing with them more often was so good for my soul. The dishes could pile up and the laundry would eventually get done. The housework all works out. That was the week I discovered that a messy house is a lived in house. What good is a clean, perfect house, if you’re missing out on life with your children? Remembering the look of disappointment on my children’s faces when I would say no to an invitation to play, is a memory that haunted me to make that change.
So the next time, my early talking 13 month old said to me, “Mama, spin me!” with joy on her face, eyes opened wide, and her hand outstretched, I jumped up and turned the radio loud.
I was brave enough to accept the invitation to dance in the living room.