Muscle Memory: Kid Stuff I Can’t Do Anymore


I wrote a couple of weeks ago about being confident with your mom bod and taking your kids to the pool. I stand by my previous assertions, but swimming with my kids has also reminded me that my body has forgotten to move in certain ways. Total muscle dementia.  I may not be a female bodybuilder, but I am relatively strong. I can still tote around my giant-sized littles (both of whom are 99%+ for height and weight). Just some context, so you don’t think I am a total wimp.


I distinctly remember climbing in and out of the pool a million times as a kid. I was good at it. It didn’t faze me. There wasn’t struggle and strain and muscular tremors. But now? It’s not pretty.  


Same thing at the park. I used to be boss at monkey bars. I wore calluses with pride. I went backward. I skipped rungs. I played chicken. I was a big deal on the playground, okay? Now, oh boy. Look away. It feels like my hand skin will fall off and like both of my arms will become dislocated simultaneously.


And you know the phrase, “It’s like riding a bike”?  Yup. I don’t know if I could do that either; it’s been so long.  


I realize that there is more of me to pull out of the pool and across the monkey bars and to balance on two wheels. I understand the science behind it. But I also think there is a deeper reason that can be applied.


Because when I was smaller, I was also weaker.


But this muscle amnesia is not as alarming to me as the deterioration of my imagination. I used to love imaginative play. My sister and I played dollhouse well past when it was cool for me. I played it off that I did it for her, but I loved it too.


I tried to play dollhouse with my daughter the other day.  My dialogue was rubbish. Boredom sank in right away. I kept bringing my adult issues to the plastic family with the perpetually happy  2.5 kids. I’m sure they had tiny plastic bills to pay. They probably hadn’t been on a date night in ages. Plastic Kid #1 was obviously regressing after Plastic Kid #2 came along.  Plastic Mom’s hairstyle was tragic. I couldn’t work with it. What was my motivation?


Why can’t I remember how do to those activities I used to love? Why do my strength and imagination not translate?  


Sometimes I think it is like that with faith too. I used to believe so easily. Santa and Tooth Fairy.  True love’s kiss. Dreams come true. Happily ever after for me and everyone who believed and wished on stars with pure hearts.


Because even though I was younger and weaker, life wasn’t as weighty and heavy.


I still believe, but it isn’t often instant or with abandon. And similarly, the junk of adulthood regularly gets in the way.


I get a word from God (something I know is from Him because I never would have settled there myself), and I somehow feel I need confirmation from all the people in my life, at least three scripture references, and a whatever hot Christian book/podcast is out right now.  Like why?!


I am NOT advocating for ignorance or suggesting that you shouldn’t seek wise counsel.


Trust me, I have been told by countless people who are justifying and rationalizing their bad decisions by saying “God told me to.”  That doesn’t always end well.


Not because God messes up, but because we have made poor choices in the guise of faith. There is a difference.  


Example: “I’m going to go ahead and marry this man I have known for two weeks because I saw a rainbow on the way to the gym, and my daily devotion talked about 1 Corinthians 13. Stawp. Just nope.


If you have a relationship with God...if you follow Jesus...if you know how His Spirit works, then you know what They are about. You know Their character and how They move and work and operate. You won’t make a contradictory choice and call it His will.


You won’t forget.


Example: “I’m going to call my representatives about the mistreatment of immigrants.”


The Bible is pretty specific about that. Jesus’s ministry focused on outsiders and children. No guesswork there. [Insert segway to my MAIN point].


Jesus was pretty clear about retaining a childlike heart.  He hinges heaven upon it in the Bible. Pretty serious stuff. Why? Because children are content in humility and are unashamed of dependence. They believe easily. They trust wholly. They love without shame. They include despite differences. They don’t alienate others with judgment and legalism. They don’t get bogged down by the monotonous and mundane because everything is wonder.


So how do we get it back? If we’ve lost that spark. That gumption and wonder.  How do we mature in our faith and stay like a child? How do we bear the weight of responsibility and keep light and young?  Starry-eyed and strong.


I don’t know for sure, but here is my plan. I am going to pray for healing from woundings of the past. We all have ‘em. Things internalized before we could process them rationally and reasonably. Trauma comes in all shapes and sizes, and I am a firm believer in therapy. In therapy, I picture my little self in those moments of hurt and confusion. I can empathize with Little Me.  I can verbalize what I want her to know. I give my younger self the truth I needed. Sometimes I just sit with her. Other times there is speaking or shielding or comfort. It’s awkward and beautiful and freeing. I totally recommend it.


I’m also going to keep playing dollhouse, and I am going to keep hauling myself in and out of the pool. I am going to read my Bible and specifically focus on what Jesus says about me and about people and especially about children.  And before long you may be driving by a park and see a grown woman swinging like mad from the monkey bars.


Maybe if the memory is worth it, the muscle recovery will be too.





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