Janice awakened to the alarm clock buzzing. Only 4 days until Christmas and thankfully her shopping was completed. She could have stayed in bed much longer but this was Gracie and Noah’s last day of school before the holiday break. They both needed to be out the door by 7AM, so no going back to bed now. Tomorrow she could relax and linger in bed if she wanted to. That sounded nice.
After the kids were off to school, as she did the breakfast dishes, she felt an overwhelming urge to play hopscotch. Where was that coming from? She decided to give into the urge and went out into the garage to find sidewalk chalk. On the back patio she drew the connected boxes for hopscotch. Near the patio she found a small stone. For an hour she simply threw the stone and jumped, threw the stone and jumped. It felt good.
Later that day, when Gracie and Noah arrived home, Gracie asked, ”Who was playing hopscotch Mom?”
“I was.” Janice replied.
“Are you okay Mom? She knew for her disciplined mother this was a big departure from the norm.
“I’m not sure, Gracie, but I will be.”
Janice asked Gracie about her day and started dinner. As she fried the hamburger, using the wooden spoon to separate the meat, she thought about her meeting with her supervisor at the hospital the week before. Ever since Jonathan’s death she had worked steadily, taking very little time off. It was her way of staying busy and feeling useful. In recent years her nursing specialty had become geriatrics. It was both frustrating and rewarding working with the elderly, but she had always loved it. That is until recently, when it was less and less appealing to go to work. She told her supervisor she needed to take time off, maybe permanently.
As a child Janice took on early the role of caregiver. The oldest of 5 children, she naturally looked after her younger siblings. She also sometimes looked after her mother, who suffered with depression throughout her life. When it became time in her junior year of high school to decide about a career path, everyone, including her guidance counselor, told her she’d be a wonderful nurse.
In her senior year she began volunteering at a local hospital. It always seemed right and she moved into this career with such ease. Now she questioned if her heart was in it anymore.
When Janice tucked Gracie into bed joy rushed through her heart as she looked at how beautiful and fresh her daughter’s face was lying on the pillow. Her kisses were more dignified now at 13 years of age, but she had a closeness with her daughter that brought great comfort to her heart.
When she arrived in Noah’s room he was already sound asleep. He had played hard at basketball practice. Noah plowed full steam ahead through his days, but once his head hit the pillow he was asleep. His personality never ceased to bring a smile to Janice’s face- he could always make her laugh. Children are truly a gift from the Lord, she thought. However raising them on her own was the last thing she expected. The task seemed too difficult, but day by day she hoped to have the strength to be a good parent.
In her journal for December 21st, Janice wrote:
God, I don’t quite understand the hopscotch thing today, but it felt good. Am I going crazy or losing my mind?
Maybe it’s your way of showing me to lighten up, have some fun- become like a child. I think I lost that ability many years ago, before I was ready. I grew up too fast, didn’t I Lord?
I saw your joy today in the faces of my kids. Thanks, I needed that.
Will you help me to embrace my inner child?