Everything is urgent and important and also more than you can actually cope with when the Black Dog is your shadow. It’s all serious and it’s all a serious mess. There is no time or energy for fun or frivolous activity. You live in the land of Must, Should, and Ought To. Want To doesn’t come into it.
An old colleague once commented to me that when his wife suffered from Post Natal Depression ‘she lost all her silliness’. I want to be silly again. To feel so safe and secure that I can waste time because I have enough to waste, become absorbed in some unimportant task because there is no imminent emergency that I must watch out for. So today’s task was simply to play.
I have company for this – my little toddler regards play as the least frivolous and most important activity (next to eating) in which a person can engage. Actually, sometimes eating comes second. So today I have followed his lead. When we went to the shops and he wanted to detour down an interesting alley, instead of hurrying him along I just joined his exploration. When he wanted to run and skip I swallowed my embarrassment and ran and skipped with him. In the park I played with him rather than standing patiently at the side of the swings waiting for him to finish. I watched Doctor Who and did a jigsaw after his bedtime (am I seven or seventy?) and then wasted more time looking up cartoons of the character who turns play into an artform – Snoopy. Snoopy spends vast amounts of time absorbed in play. He isn’t escaping from his life – his life is peachy – he just likes spreading his wings from time to time. He embarks on long and elaborate make-believe games, goes off on adventures, plays pranks, dances for sheer joy. I need to get my Snoopy on from time to time because the little moments of play in my day today had a big positive effect on my mood that lasted for hours after. And the delight my little boy took in my joining in showed me how much more he would like a playful Mum than the one who is doggedly trying all day to stay on top of a to-do list.
Here’s where I found the many make-believe characters of Snoopy – enjoy!