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Just Slide

Yesterday we rented an oversized bouncy slip and slide with dual slides for the kids. It is hot. We are quarantined. The virus is real. Kid boredom is more real. So why not? My teenager asked to invite over 2 friends who have also been under quarantine and I obliged. My 8-year-old only has 1 friend so he was allowed over as well. I made hubby promise to make an appearance to appease the kids and since it was good old family fun we even included our bulldog who was less than amused by the fun. I went to Target to get a swimsuit because of the way my “Coronabody” is set up, I did not already have one and I struggled to find some shorts to cover up my more fluffy parts as to not offend the onlookers and save face. We had extra towels, cleaning supplies, snacks, and a full day of outdoor fun planned.

The bouncy slide was set up, kids were slipping and sliding and I was trying to get up the nerve to head down the plastic runway. With the encouragement of the teens, I finally got up the nerve and thrust my body down the plastic only to stop halfway. They all made it to the pool at the end with a thunderous splash and there I was hands out, face down in the middle. Stuck. I tried again and again and again with the same results. One of the teens finally stopped me and said “mom every time you go you put your knee down at the beginning and stop yourself from going fast and making it down. You have to jump in and just throw yourself down to build momentum.” I had to stand there for a moment because that thing hit me at a deeper level.

Somewhere along my adult journey, I told myself I had to be careful. That I had to put my knee down to slow down “just in case.”

I bought into the belief that if I “wasn’t careful” I might mess around and go too fast and end up in the water of life. That if I was not always in control something bad might happen. There was something scary about going for it and throwing myself into my life. The risks I used to not be afraid of taking in my teens and 20s I began to run in the opposite direction as I got older. I don't know if it was having kids or simply the lessons I had conditioned myself into learning as the calendar moved on over the years but somewhere I lost my ability to let go and live in the moment.

As I was standing there with teenagers egging me on and encouraging me to just throw myself down the slide and go for it, I wondered how many moments I have missed over the years. How many opportunities I let slip between my fingers because I had my knee down instead of just sliding. I thought back to the countless conversations I had with myself talking myself out of things because I was “too old” or “too busy” or “too fat” or “too much of a mom” or too whatever I could conjure up to convince myself not to slide. What opportunities in life was I holding myself back from by putting my proverbial knee down and stopping my own momentum? How much more was I going to miss? And to think I was renting this thing for the kids to have fun.

Ok, it is now my turn again. Armed with the new tactic and refusal to be shown up by some 8-year-olds and teenagers, I took their advice as I stood at the top of the slide. I realized as I backed up to run that I didn’t even know how to just throw myself in so I studied their techniques. My body felt stiff and uncomfortable as I ran towards the slide and consciously told my knee to stay straight. I pumped my arms and just as I got to the mouth of the slide, instead of putting my knee down I threw the entire weight of my body against the blue plastic shoot and made it ¾ of the way down the slide. Determined to make it and supported by my crew, I went back to the outside and did it again. Sometimes all we need in life is a chance and the support of a faithful few. I was lucky in this moment to have both. This time my body, while still a bit stiff, finally seemed to get the hint of what my mind was thinking. I ran back and threw myself into the slide and this time I made it all the way down and into the grass filled pool at the end. Everyone cheered and screamed and I emerged with a face of grass and soaking wet hair. I smiled. I didn't die. Nothing bad happened. I had fun.

For the first time in a very long time, I felt what it felt like to throw caution to the wind and lean into having fun. I didn’t care that the water at the end was mixed with grass. I didn’t care what my body may have looked like going down the slide. I was not hindered by my age. I simply allowed myself to get lost in a moment and had fun. The momentum of my conscious decision to let it all go carried me all the way to the finish line. Who knew a bouncy slip and slide and a bunch of fun-loving teens could teach this old dog a new trick and provide a new outlook on life. From now on when I feel myself putting that knee down for whatever reason I will remember to "just slide."

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