Play Does Not a Mother Make

Are you a parent who loves to play with their kids? 

Do you dive right in with imagination and fun and let them lead you into never-ending Lego battles and fairy stories? 

Or is there a lack of enthusiasm when you hear “will you play with me?” 

I posted about my deficit when it comes to playing with my kids on the Joyful Courage Facebook page…  It has been on my mind a lot lately, and something I have written about in the past. 

I am a light, playful person.  I am down to earth and super social.  In many area of my life, I love play…  It is always a surprise for people to hear that I am not a very good player when it comes to my kids. 

This is highlighted by the fact that my husband is KING of play, and is always shooting hoops, playing kickball or wrestling with our kids (as I write this he is working on a puzzle with my daughter). 

I love him, I love that he is willing to play, AND…..  It kinda kills me. 

So what is my problem?

Well, every time he is out there playing with the kids, I am forced to recognize that I am not.  Usually I am doing the dishes, or making dinner, or working on a project.

And I hear you – the dishes aren’t going anywhere, there’s time for making dinner, my kids are growing up fast and they aren’t going to want to play with me for much longer…  Yes, all of this is true.

But here is the deal.

I just don’t always want to play with them.

This was causing my loads of mental anguish last week.  What the hell is wrong with me?  How can I write and teach about parenting and not be a fun, play-loving parent?  I am a fraud!!!!  (Btw, it always comes back to that, me being a fraud….)

So I did something about it – I went out and played with the kids.  My son and I kicked the ball around, it was fun.   My daughter and I bumped the volleyball, this was fun too…  I played two of the longest board games ever without coming unglued.

 And then I had a huge epiphany.  Playing may not be the area where I shine as a mama – but there are plenty of ways that I do.

 I am fully present and available each morning, I wake my kids with love and walk them out to the bus stop.

 I am fully present and available when they get home from school, and hold space for them to unload about their day and move through their routine.

 I share dinner with them, making sure that the meals they eat are healthy and balanced.

 I volunteer in their classrooms each week for two hours, and am the PTA Popcorn Friday mama each month – popping corn for all the kids then spending time selling the bags for a quart during lunch recess.

 I enjoy spontaneous dance parties.

 I love to snuggle with them before bed.

I am fully committed to working every day towards being a better parent, a better person.  I am transparent in this work, inviting my kids in to the struggles of embracing the idea that we are on a life long journey… 

I am a kick-ass mom. 

Yes, I could play more.  Yes, I will play more. 

 But I am no longer going to tell myself the story that in order to be a good mom, you have to be a good player.  That story does not take me to a place of celebrating my strengths…

Playfulness can show up in lots of things we do….

Playfulness can show up in lots of things we do….

 A wise friend told me that maybe I should worry less about playing what they want to play, and instead, invite them into sharing experiences with me.  So last night, my daughter and I made homemade pot stickers.  It was FUN.

 So love yourself today.  And when you start to tell yourself stories of why you aren’t a good parent – change the story.  Instead, allow yourself to tell the story of all the beautiful things you DO do for your kids…