My daughter loves to play with baby dolls. Of course, she is always the mommy and anyone willing to play with her is the baby. It’s a fun imaginative game and most people, and always her babies and stuffed animals, are willing to play along.
At one point, I became the big sister. Not entirely a bad role, but as the big sister she had control over me and pretty much told me what to do, and even disciplined me if I didn’t comply. Initially it tickled me, and it made me giggle because she was mocking me.
She took it to the level when suddenly I was the baby and she had ultimate control over me during the game. I didn’t like that, much like she probably doesn’t like it when I try to control her and tell her what to do. For a few days I played along, but it became increasingly difficult for me to reign her back in when the game was over. She wants the role of mommy 24-7, and it started to pollute our relationship because that is simply not reasonable.
Finally I told her that playing the role as a baby was not a good thing for me. I explained to her that I love watching her act as the mommy and play the game with her babies, brother, and grandparents, but it was a game I could no longer play with her. I continued by telling her that I am the real-life mommy and that’s the only role I will play in this game. To my surprise she accepted my explanation and convinced her brother to takeover as the baby. (She is the epitome of boss).
I felt like I had solved the problem and it’s like she and I became closer in the process. It was almost like she needed me to tell her that, just as I ultimately needed her to show me what she doesn’t like about me as a mother. I’ll always be her mommy and since she is not-yet three (I am in for it) she has to comply with my rules until I teach her the skills to live her own life (thankfully time is on my side for once!). What I can do in the now, is give her a few inches to wiggle. To show her patience and let her make her own choices (pink socks or white socks) and give her space to do things by herself (refill her water cup even if she spills). All human beings need a sense of control. It’s a difficult balance for a Mommy-in-Chief. I am learning to balance it by separating the things that really matter (making her wear a hat when it is 10 degrees outside) and things that don’t really matter (letting her get paint all over her shirt as she explores her creativity).
The other night she and her brother and I were talking about what profession they want when they grow up — an always hilarious conversation because they are too young to really know. After her brother tossed around a few ideas, I asked her and she looked up at me with me with her big brown eyes and said, “I want to be you.”
Not come on, tear-jerker little girl! In that moment she captured my attention and let me know just how important I am to her. With that I feel myself being more patient, letting her express herself more, and being available any time she wants to hug or snuggle, which isn’t often so I have to seize those moments. By slowing down a little with her, I have found that suddenly she does come to me and she is affectionate with me in new way — kissing me on the cheek if she sees my frustration about something. Kids are so smart and pick up on things way more than parents realize.
I have also found that by sitting down more and watching her play gives me the opportunity to rest when I am strung out and simply watch her. I can see her satisfaction in this and she sometimes doesn’t even ask me to play — she just wants me to watch without distraction (I forever struggle with this). She just wants my attention. And after I have sat for a while, wouldn’t you know she climbs up in my lap and snuggles with me. Who knew it could be this easy?
I am a good mom and I take care of my kids, but I am so glad I learned something new about my daughter and that I am not missing any more opportunities for her affection. Just like my attention and availability to her means everything, her affection and those big brown eyes looking into mine for guidance mean everything to me because I know I can deliver.
I have to add though — yesterday she and her brother were playing babies and she sought me out — I was in my bathroom blow drying my hair and she said, “Mommy come play with us. You can be the pizza girl!”
So here I am… not the mommy and not the baby… I am the pizza girl because I never told her that I couldn’t be the pizza girl. At the end of the day, she just wants my attention and props to her for thinking of a new way to meet her need. Additionally, it’s almost like she is sensing that I need a new role in my life alongside motherhood. No, the pizza girl is not my life calling, but the writer girl is, and I am going to find a way to merge that into our play over the next few months. I want my kids to understand that part of me. This realization is coming at me from all different directions.
Two days ago when my son wanted to play with me, I agreed, but only if we played Scrabble Junior. He was all about it, which was great because he wants my attention in any way he can get it as well, but as I sat there playing with him and enjoying myself it occurred to me — I like this game because I like words and letters and thought processes that require me to unscramble words.
For now, I’ll settle as the pizza girl, but I am onto something and I want my kids on board, too. Always. And I want to SHOW them how special they are to me. I tell them all the time, but I want to show them by giving them small choices, surrendering to their choices and not just mine, and engaging in conversational topics that they start (even if it’s potty talk from time to time).
Today I need to tackle some laundry so it is a reality-meets-dream-world-day. In conversation this morning with my husband, I promised him that, but I also made myself perfectly clear that my uninterrupted writing days are a coming and that we need to make a plan that works for everyone during this time as my creative waves get bigger. I need him to support me as co-caption (and let me know his needs) because I am not capable of doing it without him.
Maybe after I take care of some real-life obligations — like cleaning up all the messes I have made around the house and in my office and doing laundry and making a beef roast for dinner (Because who doesn’t love a beef roast on a cold day?!). Plus, I need to feed my body and not just my mind — and only then can we make a plan. After I am fed and rested and making more sense and don’t have racing thoughts overtaking my life.
Racing thoughts are part of who I am, but I need to learn how to harness them and when to let them run wild. I daresay I am metamorphosing into an adult. Which as fine, just so long as I up the fun factor in my life on the other side. It’s been pretty serious stuff lately.
Stay tuned. And let me know if you need a pizza!