As I reflect back on the summer, we made great memories and had some really fun days. It also reiterated to me one aspect of my motherhood that I have always struggled with: playing with my kids is hard for me.
I have always wanted to be a mother and also known that I wanted to be at home with my children when they were young. In my seven years of mothering, playing has always been one of my struggles. As a task-oriented person, just sitting to play often was lower on my priority list than other tasks. Imaginary and pretend play is especially difficult for me. My kids went through an “imagination story” phase where they wanted an imagination story every night before bed. My husband is a rockstar at this and when it was my turn to tell the story or when I was requested as the story teller, I was literally nervous that my story would be the most boring story in the history of time. Surprisingly, my two and four year old don’t mind the same story about Lightning McQueen racing his friends as long as the friends’ names are changed each time.
In the past, I have felt significant guilt over the fact that a lot of times, I just don’t like to play pretend or build 20 towers in a row. As a stay-at-home mom (and with two degrees in Early Childhood Education), I have felt like I should naturally want to play all day with my kids. As someone who studied child development at length, I knew the importance of play and also the important of attachment and establishing a strong relationship between parent and child. Even still, playing has often been a struggle for me as a mom.
In the past year, I have become more determined to not let mom guilt take over as much. We all have the things we feel guilt over and the idea that playing is hard is one of those things for me. One day I was scrolling through my Instagram and a mother I follow (@simplyonpurpose) had posted about embracing the kind of mom that you are and even started a hashtag (#iamthiskindofmom). She talked about how we all have our strengths, and in turn, all have our strengths in motherhood. It’s okay to not enjoy or be good at every aspect of motherhood. It IS okay to focus on your strengths as a mother and make that the kind of mother you are.
This thought made me reflect on the kind of mother I am. I am a mother who is good at getting her kids out of the house and taking them on an adventure! That idea does not stress me out at all, it excites me! I am a mom who might not be good at telling imaginary stories, but I am excellent at reading stories! I thrive on the “tasks” of motherhood and get great joy out of providing clean, organized spaces, and, among other things, making sure my diaper bag has a well-stocked “first aid bag,” so that my kids know they always have access to a Band-Aid if they need one. I don’t make the most exciting school lunches, but I love making a big deal out of birthdays and preparing special back-to-school dinners. I may only sit down and play with my kids for 15 minutes here and 10 minutes there, but I also have created a wonderful play area for them and they have big, creative minds that they use to play endless games of family, dentist, doctor, puppy and owner, and the list goes on.
I thrive on schedule and routine, so these days I make sure that I schedule in a block of time each day to sit down and play with my kids. Because it is time that I have dedicated to that purpose, it allows me to focus on those moments and truly enjoy the joy that it brings my kids when I sit down and play with them. Over time, I have found that I look forward to that 20 or 30 minute block of time where I can be a guest at a pretend bakery or build the coolest garage out of blocks. It took me a long time to get to that point and still is a conscious effort each day.
So if there is something in your motherhood that is hard for you and maybe that you don’t particularly enjoy, I invite you to take a step back and see all the many strengths you do have as a mom and realize that that is the kind of mom you are, and it is just the kind of mom your children need.