This column first appeared last month on chambanamoms.com, an awesome resource for families in the Champaign-Urbana area. I so appreciate them letting me run it here.
My kids had a random day off school this week and I had meetings stacked up all day.
I hadn’t realized that they’d be home (way to check the school calendar, dummy) and it was too late to get a sitter. Instead, my husband volunteered to hang out with them while I went about my business.
While I was gone the kids and their dad had a grand old time. There was wrestling and games and general horseplay.
The minute I walked in the door they were on me like white on rice. They clamored for me to do the science experiment I’d agreed to before I left the house. And, just as an aside, when you’re buying Christmas gifts for your kids? Skip the books filled with science experiments.
So I changed out of my skirt and tights and we made some ice cream with milk, ice and some plastic bags.
Then we ate the ice cream. Then we played Legos. Then we built a movie theater out of blocks for a stable of miniature plastic ponies. Then there was a fire in the movie theater so we had to build a hospital.
Then, one of the ponies was arrested for setting the fire and so, we had to build a pony jail.
Finally, I hauled myself off the living room floor to make dinner when my son, shirtless and in his pajama pants from the night before, grabbed my hand and begged, “But Mommy! Play with me!”
Without thinking I answered him.
“No!” I said.
For about a nanosecond I felt terrible. Then I looked at the clock and realized I’d been sitting on the floor with them for over two hours, and before that their dad played with them.
I didn’t want to play anymore. I’d reached the limits of my adult imagination. If I had to play for even 30 seconds more, I was the one who was going to be in pony jail for committing a pony massacre.
And I’m OK with that.
I know there are a lot of parents out there who love to play. Parents who possess endless patience and creativity and who dream up the kind of crafts that end up making me feel like The Worst Parent Ever when I see them on Pinterest (which is, by the way, a very special kind of hell for mothers who feel any kind of guilt about not being Suzy Homemaker).
And sometimes I do feel guilty. Sometimes I wish I was the kind of mom who truly enjoyed playing. It isn’t that I don’t want to spend time with my children, and I do play with them a lot.
However, I also want them to learn how to entertain themselves. It’s a good skill that comes in handy at airports and during corporate meetings.
This is a tale I hear frequently from my friends who have kids. It also seems to be something we don’t remember from our own childhoods. I can’t recall a single instance of my mom playing with me. I’m sure she did, but I’m also sure she didn’t spend as much time with Barbie and Matchbox cars as I do.
Next time I see her, I’m going to ask her how she got out if it because damn if I’m not all played out.
Amy L. Hatch is a co-founder and editor of chambanamoms.com and she can identify every My Little Pony by their cutie mark.