I hate playing soccer with my son.
I hate playing soccer with my son. I hate playing baseball with my son. Now, I realize that those are two very loaded statements. I actually don’t hate playing with my kid at all. As a matter of fact, I quite like it. When I don’t have a million other things to do, I like seeing the smile on his face and hearing his sweet laugh. I love when he storms my soccer goal, scores, and runs around like Zlatan with his arms outstretched like he just scored the winning goal at the World Cup.
So, it’s actually not that I dislike playing with my kid. It’s just that he wants to play with me when I have to cook dinner. He wants to play with me while I am in the middle of doing dishes. He wants to play when it’s 7:30pm and it’s time to get in the bath or get in jammies and then he screams because, as he puts it, “You never play with me.”
I’m a mom with a husband who works long hours and doesn’t come home for dinner. I’m a mom who has to make dinner, get the kids ready for bed, and clean up by myself most of the time. I’m a mom who works part time and gets up at the crack of dawn to see clients. I am a mom who is overworked and underappreciated. I love my job as a mom. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. As a matter of fact, I choose this job. I choose to work part time so that I can be there to pick up my kids from school. I want to drive them to all of their activities, cook dinner with them, hear about their struggles and triumphs during the day, put them to bed at night. I am exhausted but I am happy to be a mom.
But, at the same time, I struggle. I struggle to keep my part time work because I love it and it’s a big part of who I am. I struggle to find time to work out, to walk the dogs, to do the laundry, make semi-healthy meals, and do the dishes (we do have to wear clothes and eat occasionally). I feel like I don’t have enough time to get all of the things done. I feel like I don’t have time to get most of the things done. Being a mom is a struggle. It’s hard.
Then I remember Scott Miller. Scott Miller is an amazing parent educator whom I have seen speak on several occasions at my kids’ preschool. Scott Miller talks about having “special time” with your children. He reminds me that it’s extremely important to carve out even 10 minutes a day to really “be” with your child. It helps to put all of the screens down, put aside all of the work, and be present with your child. To tell them, “for the next 20 minutes, I am available to do or play anything that you want to do. Then we will get ready for bed.” I remember him saying that, even if it’s something that we would never choose to do, fake it until you make it. Even if it’s an activity that is boring or stupid or tedious, do it anyway and do it with a smile. Pretend to be in. Our children are important and our time is important to them. It’s the connection that matters. The fact that we are saying to them, “You are important to me and whatever you want to do is important to me. You matter.”
The clean dishes will inevitably get dirty again. What does it really matter if they sit in the sink for a few more minutes, hours, or until tomorrow? What’s more important? Things or time with our children where we get to build a relationship now that we may never have another chance to build? When we are 20 years older and our kids are (hopefully) out of the house and living their own lives, we will have plenty of time to do all the dishes we want. What will our children remember about us? What kind of parent do we wish to be?
So, I will exhale some of my anxiety, leave the dirty dishes in the sink or start dinner 10 minutes later so I can pitch that baseball to my son or listen to the day that my daughter had. It’s important to me and it’s important to them.
I Additionally, if you are interested in Scott Miller’s parenting book you can get it here! It is a great read!i