Yes, you guessed it: I'm an imperfect mother. I'm more than imperfect, actually, and I'm sure some could even argue that, from time to time, I totally suck at this whole mom thing. You see, I don't play with my children, I don't pack their lunches, I don't feed them breakfast, and I definitely don't cook every night. I do, however, forget appointments, skip activities when I'm too tired, forget to check nightly homework, and feed them pizza once — sometimes twice — a week. I know, right? Why did I even bother having children?
I watch moms and dads at the playground — chasing their kids around, creating fun games for them to play together, collecting rocks and digging in dirt — while I sit on the bench and wonder which part of the playground my kids are at. I watch these parents with a bit of envy, to be honest, because I don't really understand why I can't be more like them. Why can't I enjoy playing with my kids? Why do I wish, sometimes more than anything, that they'd stop asking me to play with them? Maybe something is wrong with me, because I hate pretend-play. I've tried to like it, you guys, but I've failed.
I mean, sometimes we do play board games as a family. I have, maybe a total of 10 times, played with Shopkins and monster trucks. I may have also pretended to be sick so my kids can pretend to take care of me. But getting down and playing with them for an extended period of time? Well, I just won't do it. My kids definitely deserve better, so it's a great thing that their dad loves to do all the things I'm just unwilling to do. Because I refuse to play with my kids, for the following reasons:
I am trying to raise independent children. They make their own breakfast, pack their own lunches or buy them at school, clean their rooms, make their beds, and help with chores around the house. One of the reasons they are the way they are is because I don't feel like doing all of this stuff for them, especially when I know they are fully capable of accomplishing these tasks on their own. This all translates when it comes to play time, too, because they don't need me to entertain them. They can do it on their own.
When kids play on their own, they are able to develop their own imagination. They create scenarios and stories in their minds I could never create. When I watch my son play with his cars, he clearly has come up with situations in his imaginary world. I feel like instead of helping my kids with their imagination, I would stifle it.
You guys, I suck at playing pretend. In fact, I was never any good at playing, even as a kid. All my Barbies ever did was lie next to each other. I used to design clothes and sew for them, but as far as playing went, I could never create exciting stories and plots to facilitate "playing." I didn't have many toys when I was a child, so maybe that's why I didn't have a chance to develop that kind of imagination.
My daughter once asked me to play with her and her Shopkins, and although I would have rather cut off my arms, I said yes. I wanted to be a nice mom. So, I asked her how she wants me to play and she said, "I'll show you." After approximately one minute, I was over it. I was bored and annoyed and all she wanted to do was have conversations about what her Shopkins were eating for dinner and what they were going to do this weekend. How do parents find playing with their kids enjoyable? I just don't get it.
I work two jobs, and for one of my jobs I wear way too many hats. As a result, I am exhausted most of the time. Come to think of it, I've been exhausted since I became a parent, and no amount of sleep ever seems to completely alleviate my exhaustion. So, because I'm always so tired, when I'm home I just want to lie on the couch and enjoy some uninterrupted silence for a few hours. So, yes, sometimes I'm way too lazy to play with my kids, and probably because I consider playing pretend about as enjoyable as waking up at 5:00 a.m. and going to work.
My kids have the world of play things at their fingertips. In fact, the basement of our home is unofficially a toy store and a library. They have a ton of toys, board games, and books. Plus, there are two of them. Why can't they figure out this playing thing on their own without bothering me? Why?
There's no denying that, as their mother, I already do enough for my children. Despite the fact I raise them to be independent, I am still the one taking them to their activities and their appointments. I am still the one buying them their necessities, cooking dinner, doing laundry, helping them with homework, taking them on playdates, scheduling events, and creating enrichment opportunities. Can't I get a pass on the playing thing? Well, I'm giving myself one. So, there.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.