I’m a fairy princess. I glide as I waltz, my arms outstretched. One, two, three… The music ends and I curtsey to my handsome prince.
A different tune. I’m a ballerina in a tutu. I stand on tip-toe and twirl in a circle. My socked feet slide over the kitchen tiles. I spin and flutter my arms like a swan. I’m a prima donna. I’m Margot Fonteyn.
And then the music changes once more. I’m a black-eyed Cleopatra. I’m Egyptian dancing. I charge down the hall, my arm leading the way. I turn by the front door and charge back to the kitchen.
“Play that again!” I yell, as the music comes to an end. Sophie’s fingers return to the piano keys, and I disappear back down the hall.
The other girls are drying the breakfast dishes. They smile as I hurtle towards them. They are used to me. I’m their crazy mother.
Each morning when we arrive at the bush tracks ready for our run, Imogen shouts, “Step back! Mum’s about to do her warm-ups!”
The girls retreat a pace or two while I wiggle my body, flap my arms, hop from leg to leg. I’m a bird. I'm a plane. I'm superwoman. I’m very silly. With a huge grin on my face, I set off down the track still waving my arms, shouting “Come on team! Let’s run!”
As I hit the 'bottom straight’, my feet find their rhythm and my arms forget to flap. I am no longer a bird or a plane. I’m a runner. I feel the deliciously cool breeze on my skin. I inhale the fresh air. I hear the kookaburras chuckling. They are silly too. The gum trees flash past me as my feet pound along the track. I feel like I can run forever.
A few months ago, Andy and I took the girls to the city to visit the museum. We headed up the ramp leading from the ground floor to the first floor exhibits. Ahead of us was a teenage boy pushing a wheelchair. An older woman was relying on him to take her where she wanted to go. As I strode past on my strong legs, I thought about what it would be like to be confined to a wheelchair.
That lady couldn’t race up the ramp on her own two legs. She couldn’t dash from side to side to peer over the edge. She couldn’t lean out over the railing to see what was below. She couldn’t run back down to have another look at something interesting. All she could do was sit still and go where her chair was pushed.
I came to the conclusion that the ability to move is a huge gift, which I sometimes take for granted. But will I have it forever?
It seems to me that as I am healthy and have legs that move, I should use them. In fact I have an obligation to use them. I can't let myself slip into old age prematurely. Instead I should use my whole body: running and twirling, wiggling and gliding, dashing and turning, charging and dancing, delighting in my every movement. Who knows what is ahead? I have to use my gift while I possess it, and thank God for it every day.
Sophie comes to the end of her piano practice. I do one final spin and stop by the kitchen bench. I feel full of joy.
"Look at me!" I say. "I'm healthy. I'm fit. I can run. I can dance. I can be silly. I can move."
What a huge gift!
“I love being me,” I tell the girls. “I love being me at exactly this age." For once, I don't yearn to be my younger better looking self. I feel perfectly happy. "I don't really mind getting old."
"You're not getting old, Mum!" Gemma-Rose protests.
"Look at my wrinkles!" I reply, and then I stop. All of a sudden my worries about looking old seem very silly indeed. Who cares what I look like? I have nothing to complain about. Instead I have so much to be thankful for:
I am so thankful I can move.
When was the last time you acted silly, twirling and gliding, dancing and sliding across the kitchen tiles?