“Mommy, will you play with me?”

I pretend I don’t hear it. But it grows louder, “Mommy, MOMMY, MOOOOOOOM!!!”

Oh, no! We made eye contact. There is no denying now that I heard it.  And my three year old knows too.

“In a minute, buddy. As soon as I finish what I am doing,” I reply, all the while hoping that he will start doing something else and completely forget that he asked.

You see, I don’t really like to play with my kids. And by “play,” I mean, get on the floor, grab a figure, pretend to say what the figure would say, do what the figure would do, etc., etc., etc. The truth is I have tried to play.  I have given it my all.  I have told myself that playing with my kids is just what mothers do.  I am supposed to play.  And I am supposed to like it.  And my child is supposed to like it.

But that is NOT how it goes in my house. So, I have compiled a list of the TOP 4 REASONS WHY PLAYING WITH MY KIDS IS THE ABSOLUTE WORST.  Here goes:

    1. My kids are bossy. They do not just let me sit down with them, grab a figure, and be that figure. Oh, no. Almost from the moment I sit down to play, I am told that I cannot be that figure because seeing me holding said figure has reminded them that that is the one they wanted. Or, I am not moving the figure the right way. Or I am not using the right voice. Or, heaven forbid, I actually try to do anything with the figure other than follow my kids very detailed directions. But what may be worse, is that almost always, as I am sitting there waiting for the very detailed directions to come (they ALWAYS come), my kid will say, annoyed, “why aren’t you playing mommy?”
    2. They never let me win. Never. Ever. Ever. I mean, sure, I get it. They like to win. Who doesn’t, right? Winning feels good. Which is why, in the rare instance that I actually win at a game we are playing, it would be awesome if they did not try to suddenly change the rules in such a way that somehow I have no longer won. Or, at least if they are going to change the rules so that they win, it would be awesome if they would stop laughing about how “Mommy lost again.” No, I did not. I actually won. You just changed the rules, kid.
    3. It’s never enough. I can literally play with them all day, for hours on end, but the minute I walk away to do anything at all—eat, drink, use the bathroom—I hear a whiney voice saying, “Mommy, plaaaaaaay withhhh meeeeeee.” Umm. Hello. I have been playing. All. Day. Literally for hours. Now, I need to try to do some of the basic things necessary for my survival.
    4. Isn’t this why I had two kids? So, I distinctly remember having one child and hearing people say things like, “don’t you want to give him a brother or a sister to play with?” Now, obviously, this is not the sole reason why I had my second child, but seriously, aren’t they supposed to play together so that I don’t have to. Shouldn’t they be able to entertain each other?!?

 

I used to feel bad about not enjoying playing with my kids—especially because as a working mom I know how precious my time with my children is since it’s so limited— until I thought back on my own childhood, raised by an amazing mom who was around all the time, but still I do not have a single memory of my mom getting down on the floor to play with me. I remember family dinners.  I remember her hosting fun, creative birthday parties for me.  I remember cuddling on the couch with her while we watched Disney movies together.  I remember her telling me great bedtime stories, comforting me when I was sad, and letting me have friends over often.  I remember family vacations, day trips, and outings.  And I remember playing by myself, with my brother, with my neighbors, with my friends, and even at times with my father, but not with my mother.  I’m not saying I never did, but it certainly is not something I remember.  And that is ok.  I had a great childhood, and I still had an amazing mother.

I want to enjoy my time with my kids, and I want my kids to enjoy it. I don’t want to just go through the motions, doing what I think I am supposed to do, but internally hating every minute of it.  Don’t I go through the motions enough with all the laundry, dishes, and meal prep?  (Why do kids eat so much anyway?)  Instead, I am going to be the mother who does science experiments, makes crafts, draws, creates costumes, goes on long adventure hikes, builds snowmen in the bathtub, reads countless books, and cheers them on from every single sideline.

I may not be like every other mom. And, I may not do what every other mom does.  But, I am their mom, and I am a great mom.  And when the three of us can all enjoy our common interests and strengths—expectations and mommy-guilt aside— I am fairly confident that they will not even notice that we are not “playing” together.   We’ll be too busy enjoying each other’s company.

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