When I think back on my mom, it is with fondness. She was a good mom. She worked hard to take care of us and I remember always knowing she’d be there for me if I needed her. Except in the middle of the night. Family legend has it if you were sick in the middle of the night, you were screwed. She was not good at middle of the night parenting.
My memories of my mom are of a supportive and caring woman who very much had her own life. She worked, partially because she was a widow and had to, but partially because she really enjoyed it. She admitted to me once that when my dad was still alive and had been laid off she jumped at the chance to be the one to work until he found a new job. She also went out at night. In my young childhood she had a church group of single parents that fueled her social life. In the later years it was bowling and bingo. She read a lot and loved a good murder mystery television show. My mom very much had a life outside of being a mother and I never once thought less of her for it.
Why then, do I put constant pressure on myself to be more than that? Why do I worry that my kids will remember all the stuff I didn’t do instead of all that I did? Why do I think I must spend every waking moment DOING something?
I have a secret: I hate playing with kids. Yep, I said it. This former teacher and mother of three gets slightly sick at the thought of tea parties and lego castles. So, when it comes time to spend time with my kids, I’m often at a loss for what to do. I fear they can feel me faking it. I’m admittedly a bad actor when it comes to faking enthusiasm and fake is what I have to do when I’m playing Ninjago or learning about FairyLand.
I love me some popcorn and a movie night. I dig talking about books we’ve read and I can throw a ball around the yard for a while. But, if given the opportunity to play or watch them play, I choose watch every time (usually with my laptop on or a book in my hands).
We’re not the family that hikes and bikes. We’re not the ones who have rolls of digital photos of our latest family adventure. We often engage in what child experts refer to as “parallel play” when referring to toddlers. My family is like one giant toddler unit – with the boys building with blocks alongside their sister reading a book next to their mom making cookies or typing a story on her computer. We spend a lot of time near each other, engaged in our own worlds.
I love my kids. I love having them around. I just hope that’s what they remember – that I wanted to be near them. The alternative is that they remember everything I did to try to avoid actually playing with them. I hope they remember the good stuff and I can get over the guilt.