Today I am linking up with the fabulous Michelle of They Call Me Mummy, taking my first trip into the MOMfessional . MOMfessionals are posts by moms that tell it like it is, no holding back. Post your story on your blog then connect with Michelle at theycallmemummy.com and share it with her. What is a MOMfessional? Michelle says, “It might be dark and heavy, it may be uproariously funny. It just needs to be something that people don’t talk about or easily ‘fess up to.” Join in the confessing and share your stories ladies!
So here it comes…my first Momfessional!
I am a mom who experiences parental guilt on a daily basis. My confession today is a fact that brings me more guilt than nearly any of my other inadequacies.
I do not enjoy playing with my children.
Snuggling, I can do. Singing, rocking, reading, going places, grocery shopping, cooking together- these are all activities I enjoy doing with my children. Being a somewhat sensitive soul, I find that I am highly skilled at nurturing my two daughters. I kiss boo-boos, provide lullabies, tenderly stroke wisps of hair, and whisper bedtime stories with the best of them.
But hold up two dolls and ask who I want to be and I find myself popping Tums and sweating. I seriously hate engaging in imaginative play. I find that “playing” with my one year old is a far less tedious task. Helping her stack blocks and knock them down, or spinning the wheel of her See and Say doesn’t seem to be overly taxing on my depleted supply of maternal energy. Lining up her animals and practicing their sounds does not require any creative resources, and I feel far less uncomfortable than when I am asked to participate in a more advanced mother-daughter activity, like say, playing princesses.
So maybe it’s not that I’m lazy per say, (or at least, not too lazy) but that I feel ill at ease with activities that require creativity and spontaneity. When my oldest daughter was in preschool, she would frequently request that I join her in playing with her dolls. Every single time she asked, I would feel my stomach drop.
Sometimes I would deflect, claiming I had other tasks that needed attention, and sometimes I would begrudgingly join her, feeling foolish all the while. Sheesh. I am flooded with shame just rememberingthese episodes!
As a child, my brother, cousins and I were constantly writing plays that I would then direct and, of course, star in. I basked in the creative experience, eagerly composing dialogue, scrapping together costumes for our cast, and pouring myself heart and soul into my theatrical performance.
Something happened with I reached 7th grade. No, it’s nothing that I can pinpoint, no tragic and dark secret that began the unraveling of my uninhibited, carefree nature. I just became self-conscious. I felt humiliated just considering the possibility of trying out for the school play. I felt inadequate and gawky. (Well, I wasgawky. Picture the tallest, skinniest 12 year old you can imagine. Then give her big glasses, bangs, and a horrible perm. Cringe.)
As a sidenote, the idea of dancing in public makes me want to vomit, as well.
Part of me wonders if the fact that I was never able to reclaim my unrestrained joyfulness has contributed to my aversion to play. It seems that I am so uptight I am not even capable of relaxing around the dollhouse. Which brings me to a correlating confession:
I am neurotic about dumb things.
I recently took both my kids to the Children’s Museum sans husband. My daughter pointed eagerly at the exhibit where children can create a rocketship out of paper and tape and then launch it using a fancy button. Easy enough right? Wrong. I took one look at the hundreds of paper rockets, the plain piece of white paper in front of me, and became flooded with anxiety. You see, while possessing intelligence in a number of useful areas, I am simply incompetent with spatial skills or mechanical reasoning.
Panic-stricken, I attempted to gauge how excited my six year old was about this activity: the answer-very. I glanced furtively at the other parents, hoping to glimpse a) an aerospace engineer whose work I could copy or b) another dumbass incapable of building a paper rocketship. In the end, I felt that we had constructed an adequate prototype and proceeded confidently to the launching station. It sucked. Unable to make eye contact with the uber-capable science dad next to me, I quickly ushered my children to the veterinarian exhibit, filled with shame.
Once in a blue moon, a silly whim will possess me and I will be able to run around giggling and talking in a strange voice, but it is not a daily occurrence. My husband is awesome at this and doesn’t appear to resent being asked to play. Possibly it has something to do with the fact that most (all?) of the nail-clipping, sunscreening, bottom wiping, ointment application and meal preparation falls to me, leaving me with little energy for playing with princesses.
I am well aware that my children could give a rip about the authenticity and originality of my playing efforts. All they want is my presence. They are not judging the inane Barbie dialogue I contribute. They don’t care how pathetic my attempt at crafts is. Just being with them is what’s important.
So I try as hard as I can to seize the moment when that silly whim possesses me, and I bask in the delighted reactions of my girls when they see Mommy joining in the fun. I also remind myself that we all have our different strengths, and there is nothing wrong with Daddy being the playful guy and Mommy being the nurturer, as a general rule. I continue to keep my heart open to them by cuddling, rocking, kissing, and taking them on as many adventures as possible.
And I hug them and tell them I love them at least a hundred times a day. Even if Mommy is awkward in the imagination category, they will never doubt how much they are loved.