New heights of connectedness (i just love trampoline puns)

Thumbs up for jumping

Thumbs up for jumping. This is what joy looks like for us.

My boys were off school Friday and because physical activity is their love language, we went to a giant warehouse filled with trampolines. We call these sorts of outings “Mommy-Charlie-Kippy Time” and, on this day, we were going to make it count.

“Are you going to jump, too?” the woman behind the counter asked me.

“I totally am,” I replied, maybe too enthusiastically. She raised an eyebrow and gave me a free wristband.

We walked extra fast to the shoe cubbies, removed coats and gloves and boots and socks, and then the three of us, holding hands, skipped up the stairs to the 6 & under section.

Getting ready to play

Getting ready to play

We were all so excited. Mommy-Charlie-Kippy Time translation: We party.

We started jumping. Charlie threw balls at my torso and cackled. I chased Kip and he guffawed. We had the space mostly to ourselves, so we went all out. Big, arms-flapping-in-the-air jumps. Spins in midair. Pink cheeks. A neverending game of dodge ball. Belly laughs. Funny faces. Ninja kicks. Lots and lots of ninja kicks.

Jumping!

Jumping!

I was the only parent jumping like a kid and, weeell, I admit it felt a little funny. Most of the other moms and dads sat on the bench with their phones and their Starbucks, a role I myself have nailed many a time. But not this time. I made the decision to engage in a major way with my sons, to meet them where they were and to relish the time with them.

I got a few glares. I got a few stares. It seemed to help when I jumped with my back to the gallery. (Looking back, I kinda can’t believe I subjected those moms, dads and nannies to all that full-frontal jumping for as long as I did. Poor souls.)

Kip catches air.

Kip catches air.

I considered bowing out and telling the boys I was going to hit the sidelines with the rest of the parents, but it’d been a while since my teeth got so dry from smiling that my lips stuck to them. How long do you have to smile before your teeth go bone dry, I wonder? All I know is that, in one hour of jumping, I smiled that long a lot of times.

So I kept jumping. Because my kids were giddy. And because they couldn’t get enough of leading me to the far corner to show me their trick jumps. And because, together, we were experiencing mega pleasurable depths of joy and connection.

And so, despite my assumption that bouncing tatas were not a fan favorite among moms in Lululemon, I kept on ninja kicking with my kiddos. And, before long, a bunch of other kids were ninja kicking all around us. The glow on all their amazing little faces—and particulary on Charlie and Kip’s—as they looked to see if I saw their kicks made me smile even bigger.

Soon the jump fest came to an end and, as we were tying shoelaces and zipping up jackets, Charlie said something that made all my embarrassment and potentially offensive jumping completely worthwhile:

“Mommy, this is the best day I’ve ever had,” he said, grinning. “I’m going to remember this time today with you for the rest of my life.”

After that, we took our Mommy-Charlie-Kippy date out for chili cheese fries. Definitely the best day ever.

Chili cheese fries.

Chili cheese fries.

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Field trip!

First graders descend the stairs to the bus.

First graders descend the stairs to the bus.

The last time I remember riding a yellow school bus was coming home from a fraternity party in college. Fifteen or so years ago. Me, hazy and giggly, wearing a skimpy fake fur dress my date had made for me; feet muddy from dancing barefoot; hair wet and curling from beer rain; trying to shake from my memory the dirty-dirty song the girls had been instructed to memorize while pre-partying together before the guys arrived. (Thanks, men of DU. I still know all the words). And, of course, my date, who had turned the dance floor into a slip-n-slide an hour earlier and was still wearing his Viking helmet, probably passing out on my shoulder. Aside: Hard to tell from this story, but that guy was—and is—so great. One of my faves.

Today I rode a yellow school bus again. Aaaand, it was a bit different. This was my date, and I was chaperoning his class field trip:

Pulling up to the Chicago History Musuem.

Charlie looks on as we arrive at the Chicago History Museum.

Incidentally, it’d been even longer since I’d been on a field trip. I was excited. We went to the Chicago History Museum and I had five kids in my stead. We called ourselves Team Awesome. Some highlights:

This is most of Team Awesome. They could not stop hugging each other. First graders heap themselves in piles like puppies every chance they get.

This is most of Team Awesome. They could not stop hugging each other. The affection is constant and so sweet. First graders heap themselves in piles like puppies every chance they get. With no awkwardness between them–when does that change?

-Riding on the bus next to Charlie, both of us radiating joy that we were having this experience together. We sat so, so close and smiled the whole way there. We had some fun conversations, and then we didn’t…

Him: What else do you want to talk about, Mommy?”

Me: I don’t really feel the need to talk. I’m just enjoying being with you right now.

Him: (smiling) Me, too, Mommy.

-Six children clobbering me with hugs at once. I almost fell over. So much love. My heart smiled.

This girl always makes my day. Today she offered up that she likes hanging around me because I'm loving and nice and fun. I mean, come on. How can you have a bad day after hearing that? Hugs all around!

This girl always makes my day. Today she offered up that she likes hanging around me because I’m loving and nice and fun. I mean, come on. How can you have a bad day after hearing that? Hugs all around!

-One of my best girls shared her peanut butter sandwich with me.

This little missy just glows. No wonder Charlie likes lunching with her. First-grade friendship is so pure and so smiley.

This little missy just glows. No wonder Charlie likes lunching with her. First-grade friendship is so pure and so smiley.

-I noticed one of the kids in my group had been in the bathroom a long time. When I went in to check on her, I found her dabbing her soaking wet hair with a paper towel. “I like having wet hair,” she told me. “It’s easier to comb and it looks so pretty.”

-A couple other moms were as excited as I was to be on the field trip, so we took a selfie.

-When faced with a giant, empty ballroom, some kids will dance and other kids will race. Both groups will be loud and probably get yelled at by a docent or security guard. I lost all control over them after about 1.5 hours.

-Charlie surprised me by staying close to me, listening exceptionally well and keeping his hands to himself almost all day. Until the fiddle music started and he kicked his buddy’s shin doing an exuberant jig.

-In the sensory room of the museum, there’s a kid-sized hot dog bun in which the kids can lie down, be the hotdog and have their friends put Chicago-style toppings on them. It’s only a matter of time before the boys spike onion pieces on their friends’ faces and the girls whack boys with the pickle spear.

Bosom buddies in a bun, Chicago-style. (Moments later, three girls jumped on top of them, to a chorus of boy-voiced groans.)

Bosom buddies in a bun, Chicago-style. (Moments later, three girls jumped on top of them, to a chorus of boy-voiced groans.)

It may be a while before I get to chaperone a field trip again, which is probably all right because today was every bit as exhausting as it was energizing. Ready for a long nap…much like I was after the last school-bus ride I remember.

Gut reaction to The Enoughness Project, my study in gratitude, receivership and transcendence

I’m going out with some girlfriends tomorrow night. It’s not any place super fancy, but it is in Lincoln Park, which is a place the mommies tend to dress up a little more than they do in my neighborhood. As I sat in the bath last night thinking about what I wanted to wear tomorrow, it occurred to me I might need a floor-length skirt. Yes, that would complete my wardrobe and my girls-night look if I just had a very-now floor-length skirt to wear with the sheer polka-dotted, button-down, tie-front top I plan to wear.

A ha! But, Emily, you made a deal with yourself. No shopping for material things for three months. You are enough. You don’t have to go buy stuff to prove it. Make do with what you have. Get creative. And may I remind you, you are enough.

Without realizing what I was doing, I began pondering the idea of going to Marshall’s tomorrow to look for something appropriate for this one night out with these dear friends who, though decidedly glamorous and aesthetically inspiring, would love me just the same if I met them wearing faded yoga pants and a sweatshirt. After all, that’s what we were all wearing when we met five years ago, just after we’d birthed our newborns and were settling into a state of shock over suspending our careers and plunging into stay-at-home motherhood.

But if only I had the right kind of skirt to wear… Better yet, if only I was a little thinner. Then those really cool jeans hanging in my closet would fit without my having to conceal the side-bulge with a jacket. And, if I were a smaller size, if my stomach washboard, then not only would those jeans fit better, but they would look awesome with that top, no under tank necessary…

Stop! Red light!

I am enough. I am enough. I am ENOUGH, I remind myself. I have everything I need, and most of what I want. Life is good and, know what? Tomorrow night, despite not having the floor-length skirt or the daily-Crossfit-style body I desire, I will look lovely enough. Not because of what I’m wearing or because I’ve lost or gained weight or because my hair and makeup are in place, but because I just am.

Note: This post is part of a series about my experiences in uncovering my own innate enough-ness. For three months, I am abstaining from frivolous material purchases, accepting all blessings that come my way and focusing on gratitude for all that I have. The idea came to me in a meditation-induced haze and it has nothing to do with politics or morality. I’m just a girl who’s hoping to: separate the association between looking good and being good; get comfy with receiving; become a glowingly grateful human being; get acquainted with my own motives for material consumption; grow my understanding of when/why I buy things; and establish new habits that are more aligned with my values. We’ll see how this goes…