Thursday, January 23, 2014 (Alex 8, Ana 4) 

Dear Ana, 

You continue to beg for play dates especially since it’s been so cold we can’t stay at the playground after school.  Alex goes over to his friend’s to play at least once a week and you cry and shriek that it isn’t fair.  This happened again today.

“I’ll play with you,” I said.

“But you’re not FUN. Only grandparents can be fun to play with.”

This makes me feel like such the lousy mom since I can’t deny that I am often not the fun mom I had hoped to be.  As a teen and young adult, I was a favorite sitter and mentor.  Children whispered in my ear they wished I was their mother.  But once I became a mother, I felt the weight of responsibility and am more serious than silly, more anxious than carefree.  I don’t play with you nearly as much as I would’ve imagined.  I helped you put two puzzles together earlier in the day but that had been the extent of it for the morning.

“I can be fun, too,” I said and started to chase you.

You hesitated but stripped your socks off and squealed as I ran after you through the downstairs rooms.  I get bored easily with your toys and my attention span for pretend play is not great either.  My favorite things to do with you and Alex are more physically oriented—chase, catch, and a variation of freeze tag which involves me running after the two of you while trying to nail you with one of your stuffed animals.  You stopped our game of chase abruptly and I had to think quickly of what might interest you and not put me to sleep.

“Do you want to paint?  How about Play-Doh?” I asked.

“Paint!” you exclaimed.

You usually water color but I pulled out the finger paints that we haven’t used in years along with some inkpads and stamps I found in the same bin.  I set it up but instead of finger painting with you, I watched as I cleaned up the kitchen.  You didn’t seem to notice but when you finished you asked me to stamp with you.  So I stood next to you and stamped the paper several times before going back to my work.  I thought for a second I should just sit down and stamp some more but it was close to dinnertime and I hadn’t even started cooking.  Thoughts of eating on time so I could get you to bed on time ran through my head.

This is the reason I am not a fun mom.  I am too caught up in getting things done and feel antsy while doing something as seemingly unproductive as stamping.  But what I sometimes forget is that it’s not about the stamping.  It’s about having an opportunity to connect with you.  I should know this after years of working with children and engaging them with puppets or drawings in order to reach them.  Even the teens opened up more over a game of cards.

So I’m going to try harder to remember that playing with you isn’t about keeping you entertained or about how quickly I bore of all the little pieces of plastic you love so much.  And it’s not even about being the fun mom.  It’s about connecting with you—the one thing I want most of all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *