being that mom that says "yes"

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A few weeks ago we were experiencing rare rainy weather. I desperately needed to go to Trader Joe's so I loaded Landon into the car, grabbed my reusable bags and headed out with my list-in-hand and agenda focused. As we pulled out of the driveway Landon asked me if we could swing by his school and see if it was wet. His house was wet, his boots where wet, his umbrella was wet and the boy was wondering if his preschool was getting wet too. Got to love the curious mind of a 3 year old.

Except, my immediate response was: "No."

"We're going to Trader Joe's. Mom's got things to do."

I need to confess something at this point: School is a whooping 3 BLOCKS out of our way. Literally a 1.2 minute detour.

Thankfully I corrected my lapse in parenting judgement; fifteen seconds and an apology later I took the inquisitive little boy to see if his school was being rained on. I even stopped in front of the classrooms so he could get a really good look.

I've thought about this interaction with Landon quite a few times since then. Honestly, it scared me to realize just how quickly I resort to the N-O word. I absolutely know that I tell him "no" or "not now" or "maybe later" much more than I need to or should.

There's a mother (a friend-of-a-friend) that I greatly admire. She has four children and her youngest is now 7 and oldest 13 or 14. I don't know this mom particularly well but when given the opportunity I love to watch her in action. She almost always says "yes" to her kids. "Mom, do you want to see the sand castle I just made?"; "Mom can you help me with X?"; "Mom, can I sit here and listen to you talk and put my two-cents in as well?" It doesn't matter if she's chatting with a girlfriend or about to take a bite out of her turkey sandwich - her kids come first. She's been saying yes to them for years and now that they're getting older it's awesome to see her dedication pay off. Her teens and preteens actually want to hang out with her. They seek her out. They enjoy her company. And whether it be surfing with her eldest or having girl-talk with her daughter she's an active participant in their lives.

But that kind of relationship doesn't start with an 11 year old. It starts when they're 1 and they want you to play 35 rounds of pat-a-cake.

Obviously balance is necessary. If Landon had his way I would follow him around like a monkey after a banana - jumping from playing cars to kicking soccer balls to pretending to be dinosaurs. Someone does have to clean the house, run errands, and do laundry. Plus, he needs to learn the necessary skill of self-entertainment. However, more often than naught, I find myself setting him up to play by himself while I busy myself with distractions, or even heading to the park with a girlfriend so we can chat while the kids play alone rather than getting on the floor to play with him myself.

So lately I've been challenging myself to just PLAY with him for at least 30 minutes each day. AND to further challenge myself I'm trying not to manipulate the play. There are certain activities I enjoy more than he does: I love reading books, coloring together, talking a walk - he loves playing chase, warrior and dragon role-play, and crashing cars (when it comes to playing cars on the living room floor I have to put a timer on to make myself do it! I really do find it that painful).

Honestly, some days it's more difficult than others. I've found that 30 minutes of baseball flies by but 30 minutes is a dang long time to play Thomas the Train. However, if he is my "job" right now than I consider Thomas a future investment transaction. Plus, his excitement when I say "Yes" and get to the floor is worth it every time.

instead of sitting on my beach towel I said yes and ran down sand-dunes with a little boy
 - so worth the pelvic pains!

How about you? Do you like playing with your kids? Does it depend on the activity? Are you as distracted by other things as I am? I'm curious to know how other mom's feel about this.


Annie said...

I find myself being distracted also. When I come home from work I want to play with my little girl, but I find myself catching up on emails and FB. You have inspired me to play with Rachel more!!

Linda Z said...

Oh, this is so true, Anna. So good to say yes to our kids while we can. I love hanging out with my kids... they are growing up too fast!! :)

Jessica G. said...

I love what you said about the mom with older children. I want to be that mom! I personally see the kids as my job. Because of that, I don't turn on the tv or open my computer until they are in bed at night or if I happen to luck out and they are both napping at the same time. I do try to clean the house, but I also remind myself that spending time with my kids is what I am supposed to be doing. When I give myself that freedom, I really enjoy what I am doing without distraction. And, I must say, I have lucked out. Connor loves reading and so do I. He also likes spending time playing outside and so do I, so those are some of our big activities we do together.

MEGAN said...

I loved this! We can all be a little more yes-ey in life!

Ryan and Camille said...

I really need to do that too! I play with him each day, but he probably only gets 5 minutes or so of my focused time, in little chunks throughout the day. setting a timer would be a great way to make sure I am really engaging for a long time!

SomisSurferGirl said...

THANK YOU. I miss you.

Two Cent Sparrow.
Template by Labina | Blog Styling by Jess Roy.