My life isn’t perfect. I am not perfect. I still have bad days, make mistakes, feel guilty, wonder if I should throw out all of our stuff and start over. (Haha?)
But I am learning that I don’t have enough time or energy to struggle and strive to do all the things I imagine that I should do – all the idealistic notions I’ve picked up from so many different parenting and lifestyle ideologies that I admire.
Recently I have dropped a lot of dogma, but kept my ideals and I am fleshing out what is truly important to me, to my family, and what I can manage and actually enjoy doing.
And without all that internal pressure, I can breathe. I can relax! And most importantly, I can play!
I’ve spent so much time dreading being asked to play with my kids.
I’ve spent many, many days feeling like I had so many chores to drag myself through before I could really have fun with my hobbies, once all the tasks were checked off and the kids were asleep.
But it was a trick! I don’t need to work to earn my right to play. I don’t need to drag myself through anything awful to get to it, and I’d wager that neither do you!
I can sing silly or beautiful songs with my kids, or to myself, and enjoy that freedom of expression without worrying about sounding ridiculous.
I can share my coveted craft supplies with my kids and watch how excited they get about their own creations, and not let myself think that they are “wasting” my materials. I can see the fun in the process of creating, of experimenting and making mistakes, and share that with them.
More often now, I can let go and accept their requests to play, or spontaneously jump in on my own. And it doesn’t seem so dull as I often imagined it to me.
Because when I am not worried about all the “important” things I should be doing, when I am not framing myself as the victim of demands of my energy or attention, I actually like to speak in silly voices. I love to sit and doodle and colour, or wrestle and tickle. It’s not so bad to chase my kids around while pretending to be a giant, or a wacky bird, or a fart monster.
And when my days are full of play, I find I am a little more calm and steady in the throes of their tantrums and troubles, because I am not so darn edgy – laughing and singing and moving my body helps release so much pent up stress.
I have dropped a lot of my pretenses around motherhood and what I thought it should be, and I am just letting myself be the mother I am. The person I am, the child inside of me. And I am letting my kids be who they are. Letting myself find the joy in this, even the messy parts. Especially the messy parts.
I’m reconnecting with my own youthful enthusiasm, and it does more to make me feel like the best parent I can be than any tried-and-true techniques or philosophies ever have!
So, how do you play? What brings you joy?
Can you do it right now?