I cherish days at home with my kids. I count my blessing everyday that I am able to stay home, that I WANT to stay home and that my husband supports that decision as well. But we all know that some days as a mom (regardless of your SAHM,WAHM, WFHM status) are challenging in their own way.
Last week we wrote about embracing your inner child. I hope some of you heeded that call with reckless abandon (you might be in traction today or under psychiatric evaluation as a result) but you did it. I went sledding with my kids. Under the urging of my 5th grader, I tried snowboarding. We had a snowball fight. I rolled around on the floor. I was a "bull" and they were the cowboys. We went rollerblading. We played board games. We did puzzles. This kind of activity is not new at our house. I do play with my kids....a lot. But I realized early on in my mothering that I am more of a "let's go out in the yard and throw the ball around" kind of mom. Even growing up I was never a girly-girl. I had Barbies, but I usually...ummmm..."restyled" their hair with scissors and Crayola markers. I also tried to see how long Barbie would stay in tact when tied behind my brother's big wheel for a trip down "Dead Man's Hill" (aka - the alley behind our house). So, plainly stated, playing "girly" things is downright painful for me. This past weekend, it was whatever the kids wanted to do, and we did it. But I will admit, that the boys took the lead...and the preschool girl gladly followed along. We all had a great time....and then I put the preschool princess to bed that night and she said "Can we play what I want tomorrow?" and I lovingly (and with a bit of guilt) said "Of course honey, whatever you want." If only someone could have told me what I was in for.....
Monday morning comes, and all is normal. The preschooler and I drop the boys off at school, stop at the store, run to the post office and come home to unload the morning's errands. I had forgotten about her bedtime request. Not that I don't play with her, I most definitely do. We go to the park, we have tea parties, play "school", we color, do puzzles, play-doh, etc. But it was about to become abundantly clear that today was on her terms. "Mom, you are the teacher and I am the kid." Easy enough....and pretty standard....for a little while. Again, she was in charge. I was the puppet and she was the master. Right down to her winter coat and backpack, she was all set to enter "school" for the day. "HELLO CLASS!!" I greeted her cheerfully. "No mommy, you are working and we come in quietly and sit on the rug". Ok, so I abide. I ignore her, as requested. Then I walk over to the rug and sit. "Teachers don't sit on the rug. They sit in a chair." Ok, so I get a kitchen chair and chirp "Good morning Kindergartners!" The blonde in the front pipes up "We are in first grade." Tough crowd. "OH...thank you Lanie, I almost forgot!" "My name is Averie." Well crap. "Well thank you Averie, please go an get out your coloring pages and we will begin."
"You are supposed to give us partners" she says
"Ok, Bridget, you can be Lanie's (evil look from blonde) I mean Averie's partner."
"There is no one named Bridget in here."
WTF?? There are 15 pretend kids here and I am pretty sure I will get all of their names wrong today. This is the drill...all morning long. But I am a trooper, and I play along. But I did try to kindly interject and say that mommy is having a hard time knowing the rules when you make them up as we go. "But that's how it goes." she innocently states. And so it goes through pretend lunch and recess (where we did actually go outside and I was reminded that teachers don't check the mailbox or bring in the paper at school). I tried to get her to buy into naptime, but that was coldly rejected. Because without skipping a beat, we were now playing "house". I played several roles; sister, mailman, grandma (not a favorite given my self-consciousness about growing older), aunt, and even dad. I did draw the line at "dog". I do have some self-respect left. My favorite was when I was "friend" and she was coming over to drop off her kids and chat. She was donning my favorite heels, my purse, my gloves and coat. She "rang" the doorbell, to which I responded "Come on in" and I was met with a head poking around the corner of the dining room "You can't say that, because the dog is barking and I cannot hear you...you have to answer the door." By the way, let me state that we do not have a dog, but apparently my fictitious dog was not pleased that someone rang the fake doorbell. Anyway, I answered the door this time "HI! How are you? I am so glad you stopped by!"
"Mom, you have to ask me if I got new shoes."
Ok...this is going well already. "Well, HI. I am so glad that you stopped by. You look fabulous! Did you get new shoes??"
"No, these are old. Can you watch my kids for me? I need to go shopping."
Is she serious? So it is like a repeat of school. She is the director of this two-man production and I am the understudy that seems to be failing miserably. But that is ok, because before I can blink, she is packing all of the tupperware into a grocery bag because we are going "camping". I look at the clock. It is only 2pm. Again, I LOVE playing with my kids, but this is way overly high-maintenance for me. But camping means fort-building and fort-building means NAP POTENTIAL. But after we construct the fort and get cozied-up, we can't "sleep" in there because there are bats and bears outside. "Well, then we should stay inside" I smartly reply. "No, we need to get in the car right away and drive to a hotel." Hmm...I can do that. Except by car she meant couch, and by hotel she meant my room. I was cool with being in my room, but hotels are the only place my kids get to jump on the bed, so....yes, instead of pretending to get 12 seconds of sleep at the "hotel" she wanted to jump on the bed. I was exhausted from my pretend life already. Afterall, I had been to school, camping, entertained at home, watched her pretend kids, and had been approximately 8 different personalities all before lunchtime. "Should we go to Target and pick out that present for your party this week?"
"Nope, I am having fun playing with you." OH OUCH - I was stabbed in the gut with the guilt that I wanted to divert her attention if even for 30 minutes. "You're right," I said "So what do you want to do now? A puzzle, go for a walk, color?" "How about we play 'bartender'? Mommy will teach you how to use the blender" The usual suspects were not enticing her. Food! She is my kid. She can always be bribed with food. "Do you want some ice cream for a snack!?" She bought it, hook, line and sinker. "YES! And we can pretend that you are driving the ice cream truck and I am buying it from you!!" Ok, so the child development experts state that a vibrant, vivid fantasy world is a sign of intelligence. Then my kid is going to be friggin' brilliant. So we play "ice cream truck", which I of course got several of my lines wrong. But that is ok, because them we moved on to "work" and then "dentist" and the "hairdresser" where I was the subordinate in all of those...probably because I was failing miserably at the other roles I had been previously assigned. I was saved by the bus when the boys came home from school, and all pretend activity ceased in favor of playing with the boys. I made it through an entire day of make-believe. Mr. Roger's ain't got nothing on me! I was tired, but fulfilled. But don't breathe a sigh of relaxation just yet....because there it was. As I was standing there in the kitchen making dinner, the unmistakable sound of too-big high heels, jiggling car keys...and then the knock on the "door". I snap to attention. Do I dare answer the call?? The knocking is relentless. She found me. "Come in?!?!" I sheepishly almost whisper. And then the blonde head pops around the corner...lipstick brighter than the setting sun....
"HIeeeeee! How are you?" in her best Valley girl impersonation. And we are playing house....again. I hope I get it right this time. But if I don't, that's how it goes. Or so I have been told.
P.S. - This was a very tongue-in-cheek representation of my day. I will state it again, that I love playing with my kids. And I am already getting teary-eyed about the fact that someday I will look back on our time together and wish it were all back...the coloring, the "camping", etc. Because right now I am her best friend. The day I am replaced is unfortunately just around the corner...and I dread that even more than pretending I am her dog