This morning I read a great email in response to my post last week, Run Like Phoebe. It was a mom who felt the same way about playing with her kids as she did about chores. And, as moms do, she felt guilty about it. She said my blog post helped to change her perspective about both. I was intrigued. I went back and reread my post, and noticed that while I talked about chores, mothering duties, and wifey-ing, I didn’t look at how I feel about playing with my kids.
I meditated. Obvi.
And a question hit me square between the eyes.
Do I Even Know How to Have Fun with My Kids?
I’m not a serious person. I mean I can be. I have my serious moments. You wanna talk health insurance? You wanna talk chewed gum found on the carpet? You wanna challenge me in a game of beer pong? Serious face all day long baby. But, seriously, have I lost the ability to let go and be silly and actually have fun with my kids? I’m not saying I’m a shitty mom. I take them to do stuff they love to do and I set up fun things for them to do at home. Them. I totally take advantage of them having each other. Siblings are a pretty sweet set up. But for the exception of the impromptu dance party together, tickle fest, or family movie and popcorn night, am I really playing with them? Or am I just passing time watching them? I feel like a asshole. Am I a sideline mom?
I take them to the pool, they get in and play and go down the slide, and I work on my tan and wonder if I should drink a beer and peruse US Weekly, or go swim laps in the adult pool so I can feel active. What I’m not thinking is, “oh, I’d love to jump into that communal pee pool with all of those screaming children and have a water gun war with my kids. I leave there, tan and all caught up on Hollywood gossip.
I take them to cool parks in and around town and they play who-knows-what imaginary game on the jungle gym, and I’m on the bench, scrolling through Instagram with what may or may not be a cocktail in a sippy cup. I mean I guess I could do yoga or squats and lunges or something, or go make awkward conversation with the new mom whose baby is too young to actually do anything at the park but she clearly had to get the hell out of the house. I have enough in my sippy cup to share.
I have trouble just trying to play board games with my kids. Reading the instructions make me feel like stabbing myself in the eye with one of the game pieces. Not to mention trying to explain said instructions to my five and eight year old. We might as well skip the tiny print written by the person who writes code for the Matrix, and just make up our own rules for how those colorful little butt plug looking pieces should move around the board.
Am I a horrible mother that I would rather watch my children play happily on their own, than participate in the fun? Maybe the better question is, why don’t I participate? It’s not as if I’m a contestant on The Biggest Loser in order to lose 150 pounds “so I can be able to play with my kids”.
I certainly don’t ignore them. I’m taking adorable Instagram worthy photos of them and checking to make sure they are fed and hydrated with five thousand snacks and drinks. I’m praising them for how high they are swinging and the cool ninja kick-jumps into the water. “And mommy’s sitting right over here in case any of those other kids are being assholes ok.”
Is it because I treat taking care of them and making them happy like a chore, dare I say a J.O.B? Ugh! Totally! Because even when I am participating, I’m thinking of other things I need to hurry up and get done, just like I do with one chore and then the other. We could be in the middle of a sweet game of soccer, wherein soccer has no rules and we’re just kicking the ball back and forth and making up goals as we go along, and part of my brain is like, ok, let’s wrap this up because I need to clean up the kitchen from dinner and you guys need to get in the shower. Oh my god!!! That’s fucking awful!
Our routine is all one check list after another. Getting dressed, getting teeth brushed, eating breakfast…check, check, and check. And so goes the day. Went to the park and the kids had a blast. Check. Took them to the grocery store and got them a doughnut and yelled at them for the next 45 minutes through the store (which would have taken me 15 minutes if I was by myself). Check. Went for a beautiful hike. Check. Yelled at them all the way through Home Depot “please stop playing swords with copper pipes.” “put. the. cap. back. on. the. spray paint. or. so. help. me. (said through gritted teeth). Check. And on and on.
Hahahahhaha! You know when you think of a scenario in your head and it literally makes you LOL? I just imagined picking up one of the copper pipes and joining in the sword fight in the middle of Home Depot. And eating a doughnut with them while making conversation with the lobsters in the tank at the Seafood counter of the grocery store.
I’m a merry making mom damn it! I just need to take my own advice about enjoying and embracing ALL of the aspects of my life, especially when it comes to playing with my kids. I don’t need to jump in the piss pool or act like a monkey on the jungle gym, or let them burry me in the sandbox. That’s just not fucking happening. But when we play school, or soccer, or go for a bike ride (just up and down the street because the five year old refuses to take off his training wheels), or have a squirt gun fight, or go for a hike, I’m going to be totally in it, and totally present!
They deserve that.
I deserve that.
I’m flipping the script. What if I just started talking with an English accent every once in a while? What do you mean that’s weird? Madonna got away with it for years, and contrary to what we all thought, I’ll bet she was just doing it to make her kids laugh. Ok, maybe I don’t need an accent, I’ll start with my attitude. I’m going to relish the time I have with them while they legitimately want me to play with them. Because soon it’s gonna be grudgingly requesting me to drive them to the movies with their friends, instead of staying home to hang out with their lame parents.