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Facilitating Family Fun when the Clouds Hang Low

Facilitating Family Fun when the Clouds Hang Low

My first husband died of a brain tumor when my boys were three and four. Transitioning from revved up medical caregiver to just plain mom proved challenging. When the school year ended and summer cranked up, I didn’t know what to do with myself—let alone all three of us.

One afternoon I complained to a friend, “It’s like I’ve spent years driving in the fast lane only to suddenly downgrade to a slow crawl.”

“Go buy a book,” she started, “and a lounge chair. Work on a tan.”

A tan? Just a tan? I hadn’t cared about getting tan in years. Desperate, I gave it a try.

While the boys played in our backyard on the playground set their father built, I sat nearby with a book—and a journal. Engaging in play wasn’t easy for me as I processed the deep loss. I wanted to be a fun mom and make memories for our new family. But some days it was all I could do to simply facilitate fun.

But it worked.

I never got much of a tan, but in time I found other places they could play while I wrote and grieved. An indoor jumpy house opened not far away and I let myself indulge in a membership. My boys ran and worked out their energy while I sorted through endless thoughts on lined paper. At times I battled guilt that I wasn’t with them, running free. But as pages filled, it got easier to interact, to play, and finally to be the mom they needed to me to be.

When life throws a curve ball and our family units are broken, making memories becomes a necessary work instead of the natural overflow of family interaction. Accepting the new normal, no matter how the landscape has changed, involves a bold stepping out, a daring to face the future with new rules and expectations.

While my heart wasn’t always in the fun, facilitating fun for my boys was always possible. They needed to work out their grief in play while I craved a pen, some paper, and time to write.

Combining both allowed our family to heal and make new memories that led to better ones down the road.

No matter the crisis at hand, there’s still only 18 summers, you know.

By: Susan Schreer Davis is a writer, singer, and formerly widowed mom, now remarried! She loves butterflies, white sand beaches, long days at the shore, hugs from her boys, clean toilets, and whispy curtains draped to her bedroom floor. Visit her at http://www.susanschreerdavis.com or at her blog: http://www.coffeefaithandchronicdisease.blogspot.com.

 Join us at www.just18summers.com for our parenting blog each Monday-Friday and for info about the Just 18 Summers novel.

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