Left to their own devices, they doused themselves in heavily perfumed room spray.
Here comes a huge confession… I have mentioned it a number of times here in passing, but this is just eating away at me, and I feel like I’m completely alone in this from what I have seen…
I do not
have time to, want to, have the energy to, know how to play with my children.
I cannot begin to explain how much guilt I carry around about this on a daily basis. I mean, what kind of mother doesn’t play with her children? Parker comes up to me constantly and asks me to play with her, and so I try to… I try to play pretend, but I don’t have the mental capacity or focus left after a long day to “play mommy”. I’ve been “playing” mommy all day! She comes up with scenarios and I have apparently no creativity or imagination to take things beyond their most basic parameters. Let’s go to sleep, let’s eat dinner, let’s go to the park. Her favorite pretend play now happens to be pretending she’s a baby and wailing at the very top of her lungs. Unfortunately, that’s usually what I’ve been hearing her do for the preceding hour or so if she’s had to leave a play date, has been rejected after asking for dessert at 4pm, or any other infinite number of “wrongs” that have come upon her poor four year-old soul…
I find myself too drained to participate, or I’m not even sure where to begin. I had a conversation yesterday with my dearest friend, confessing my horrendous parenting to her, and she admitted to me that while she’s a full-time working mother who gets only an hour or so with her daughters each day, she occasionally hides in her bathroom with her Blackberry for a decent portion of that hour.
That’s why she’s my best friend – because she’s
just as much of a delinquent as I am so honest.
I wonder how many of “us” there are out there in proportion to those who genuinely-cherish-each-and-every-moment-they-get-to-spend-in-the -presence-of -their-little-cherub-faced-darlings.
When I’m supposed to be playing with my kids, I find myself in something of fight-or-flight mode. I’m looking for excuses to do other things – running through the laundry list of stuff that needs to get done around the house, errands I need to run, phone calls that need to be made, paperwork that needs to be completed, that package I should have dropped off at the UPS store a week ago, the 46 emails I never answered, etc. etc. etc.
I know that it’s wrong, but I also think I know why I’m where I am…
When Owen was born, Parker was only sixteen months old. At that point, playtime with her was easy – usually her repertoire consisted of making me “soup” in her kitchen, scribbling on a piece of paper with a crayon, playing with her dolly by rocking it back and forth or giving it a bottle, or running around outside. She wasn’t yet into the intricate imaginative scenes she now sets up and acts out. After he was born, our whole world was turned upside down. My life as a stay-at-home-mom was no longer focused on just keeping my children clean, well-rounded, well-fed and entertained; it was on keeping them alive, making sure their medical care was where it needed to be, fighting with insurance companies, and getting them into the best specialists as soon as possible. I say “them” because Parker’s medical issues started soon after Owen was born. We figured out that she had Sensory Processing Disorder when she was 26 months old, a few months later she was having unexplained fevers as high as 105.3 and that horrendous night she had to be rushed to the hospital as I documented here, and then about a year ago we found out that she has Psoriatic Arthritis (which had been causing all of those fevers). This is all the parenting I have known. This is what I am good at, but it;s no longer enough.
Both of my children needed me, which always needs to be addressed more urgently than how much someone wants you.
I know how to be their advocate, their Chief Medical Officer, their warrior – but I don’t know how to be their mommy.
I just don’t have the practice. I feel like I missed all of that time where we would have gotten to develop our co-play skills together. I was too busy organizing, and fighting, and working the past three years. I know it was for them, and I know it was necessary, but it doesn’t make me feel any better, or break my heart any less now that we are here, and Parker’s big blue-green eyes are looking up longingly at me and I just want to run away, to do anything else, because I know my heart isn’t in it. It kills me even more, because I remember missing my mother when I was little, even if she was only in the next room. I don’t want my children to feel like I don’t want to be with them, like I’m not interested in them – because I do, and I am. I’m just really bad at it right now.
Can someone be “out of practice” in a position they currently hold? Does that even make sense?
I cannot wait for the hammer to come down on me for this post. All of you out there who have been so supportive and keep telling me what an “amazing” parent I have been, will see the truth for what it is. See me for who I really am.
I am a mother, but not yet a mommy. At least that’s what it feels like.
Where is the Dr. Spock book that tells us how to deal with this stuff? Where’s the chapter on pretending you have a headache so you can go lie down instead of sitting knee-deep in the weird salty stench of play doh for an hour? Or the one that helps you deal with the guilt of actually getting a headache when you try to wrack your brain for things to do with your kids that don’t make you want to gauge your eyes out?
G-d, I’m a horrible person.
I love my kids, I really do. With all of my heart. I just don’t know how to have fun with them, how to play with them.
I want to learn.
I want to enjoy it, to enjoy them…
I just don’t know how and it’s killing me.