The Rockwood Files: Mama needs to play

rockwoodfiles2-205x300I know I’m probably too old to be this excited about a new toy, but, nevertheless, I am. I’ve got a new swing, and I love it.

We hung the one-seater swing from the high ceiling of an enclosed back porch where there are lots of windows and not much else. It’s a long, narrow room with a stone floor, and, for the nearly eight years we’ve lived here, the room has stumped me every time I try to put furniture in it. A sofa was too big. A chair was too small. The side table never looked right. Nothing seemed to work, so it became one of those hodge-podge rooms where mismatched furniture and neglected exercise equipment go to die.

Then last winter, our rule-breaking Beagle, Charlie, got bored and decided to eat the arm off the old chair on the porch because it was apparently much tastier than the three chicken-flavored dog toys in the room. So I finally dragged the dilapidated furniture out and started over with a blank slate. That’s when I found the swing.

I spotted it in a store, and it had a cushioned seat and a colorful pillow nestled against its wooden back. Its cocoon-like shape practically insisted that I sit down and stay a while. As soon as I did, I knew that a swing was the thing that odd back porch of mine had always been missing.

Sometimes I think about the swing when I’m working or running errands. I make little deals with myself that, if I can just finish this project or get caught up with the laundry, I’ll let myself retreat to the porch for some time to read in the swing. The busier things get, the more I find myself craving some time to just “play.”

The truth is that most people crave play, whether we admit it to ourselves or not. Even the word itself shows up in so much of what we know as fun – playing music, playing ball, playing cards and even playing hooky. When we go to the theater, it’s often to see a “play.” Long past the age of Lego blocks and hopscotch, we all need some play time. Sometimes it takes something as simple as a swing to make us remember that play is a part of who we are and, instead of wasting our time, it makes us appreciate it even more.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. once said “Men do not quit playing because they grow old; they grow old because they quit playing.” And if he was right, then the smart thing for me to do would be to sit on the porch and swing myself a little younger every chance I get. Perhaps you should, too.

Don’t bother with grown-up guilt about goofing off now and then. Play often makes us better at our work because it gives a creative spark some room to run. When we allow ourselves the time to play – to chase a new idea just for the fun of it – there’s no telling where we might go.

gwen rockwoodGwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. To check out Gwen’s new book, “Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile: The Rockwood Files Collection,” click HERE.

Author Photo credit: Lisa Mac Photography