Is it possible to love your child and abhor playtime?
I sure hope so, because playing with my toddler is the worst thing ever.
I knew I was in for trouble when my daughter turned 1. She insisted I sit down to play blocks with her, and I obliged. The minutes passed like hours. After stacking blocks for an eternity, I looked up at the clock and realized I’d only played with her for seven minutes — seven minutes of miserable hell. Seriously, who can actually pass a day like that? If there are moms out there who genuinely enjoy stacking blocks and making puzzles, I commend them, because that is boring.
For a while, I berated myself for my ostensibly misplaced mommy gene. I should like this more than I do, I thought. She’s only young once! What is wrong with me? The only way to completely destroy an already-boring play experience, though, is by infusing it with guilt. So I chose to let go of the guilt and let the facts remain: I love my daughter, but I don’t like playing with her — at least, not in the way I thought I should.
And you know what? That’s OK. I’m a different kind of mommy than some, and I have different limitations. I live my life at a fast pace, and I’m most excited by high-energy activities. I didn’t even like playing puzzles when I was a kid, much less as an adult. These are characteristics of my personality, and no amount of guilt or effort is going to change them. I believe, too, that I’m teaching my daughter valuable things by showing up for our relationship just as I am rather than pretending to be someone I’m not. She may learn that I’m not very good at playing princesses, but she’ll also learn that I’m the best mommy for cannonballs and hiking — although she probably won’t figure that out until she’s older.
In the meantime, I’ll do my best to give her what she needs in terms of blocks and baby dolls. I’ll submit to the reality of playtime because I love her and I want to be with her, but I’m not going to feel bad anymore for hating it. This world, after all, takes all kinds of moms.