play –  noun \ˈplā\

:  the conduct, course, or action of a game
:  a particular act or maneuver in a game
:  recreational activity
:  the spontaneous activity of children
:  absence of serious or harmful intent
:  jest <said it in play>

__________

Last night, Steve and I finally sat down on the couch about 8:30 after a busy day of work—the kind we get paid for and the kind we don’t. For a few minutes, we planned to veg out in front of the television watching The Voice, one the few shows we like from our limited cable selection.

By the time we tuned in, the judges already had selected a couple of performers for their teams. The first act we caught was an earnest young man from New Jersey whose performance got two judges to turn their chairs. As we continued watching, we commented on the range talent, occasionally discussing other things we remembered from our day, when we noticed Tilly sitting upright and staring directly at Steve.

“What do you want, girl?” I asked. She didn’t move a muscle.

“Come ‘ere,” I said and petted her behind the ears. But she had her eyes on Steve.

“I think she wants you,” I said.

“What’s a matter, girl?” Steve asked her, giving her back and neck and head and good rubbing. She leaned in. Then, she ran to the other side of the room and grabbed her toy beaver tail. It used to be a whole beaver before Tilly got a hold of it.

Steve grabbed the toy and threw it; Tilly ran and retrieved it, vying for a game of tug-o-war when she returned it to Steve.

“I think she just wants to play,” I said.

So Steve got down on the floor with her, and for several minutes, they played. This wasn’t the first time they’ve wrestled and wrangled like this. That’s why Tilly went to Steve, not me. But it was the first time in a while. I think Tilly and Steve both needed some time to play.

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I think I do, too.

Earlier this summer, Steve and I often went to the farmers’ market on Saturdays. Over the Labor Day weekend, we took the boys to see three movies at the theater. In one weekend! In the evenings, I would ride my bicycle, and one or two of the boys would come along. Then, my work got crazy, school started again, we moved, and . . . well, let’s just say that we haven’t done a lot of playing for the past few weeks.

What does that do to a person, not playing? I don’t know what it does to you or to most people, but for me, it means the muscles between my shoulders keep growing tighter. It means I check my phone more and more and more, trying to stay on top of the work. It means weekends are filled with chores and to-do lists. It means feeling guilty for laying on the couch and watching a movie on a Sunday afternoon.

Oh, and the work never gets done. Never. The to-do list still grows and the emails just keep coming, no matter what else I put off or set aside.

I need to play more.

I’m just not sure when or how, yet.

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WORD COUNT: 507

Photo above by Abhijit Kar Gupta, via Flickr, used with permission under the Creative Commons License. Definitions of my word of the week are from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online.