Wednesday, 25 September 2013

play time

You know how children have a knack of saying something that is so steeped in truth it stops you in your tracks and forces you to take a good hard look at yourself?  If you are in the habit of hanging around small people this can happen fairly frequently.
I was brushing my girls' teeth recently when Charlotte explained that she needed to get another little mermaid dolly to play with her existing one. "But she has the big mommy mermaid dolly to play with," I said. "No," said Charlotte, "her mom is too busy to play with her."
"Oh," said I thoughtfully, feeling that familiar niggle of guilt growing in my gut. "But, even though mommy's are busy taking care of their families, they still play sometimes, just not all the time," I said.
"Oh yes," pipes up Anna, "remember that time when you once ran and jumped onto the trampoline with us! Remember?"
" Yes, I think so, " I replied, quietly.
Well, did I have some thinking and guilt management to deal with after that conversation! Do I really play with my girls so infrequently that when I do it is a highlighted moment to go down in the book of memories?
"No that's nonsense," I try placate myself, "before the baby was born, we swam together in the sea all the time!"
But the truth is, after taking a good look at myself and my mothering, I know that since my pregnancy and the birth of Adam I haven't exactly been a ball of fun for the twins. And I'm in the habit of taking whatever dregs of time I can get, for myself. Is this selfish? What about women who have six kids, which was quite common 50 years ago - and they didn't even have washing machines back then.
Truthfully I can lean a bit too much to the serious side of life and am not really a very playful person. Come to think of it, I've never been the first to jump onto the dance floor to get the party going. And I think selflessly leaping about like a hyperactive child, when your children already have siblings to play with, is going beyond the call of duty and can only end in burn-out and prescribed bed rest.
But playful or not, I think the issue here is spending time with one's children and, like many mothers, I have very little of that: one's time seems to be directly proportional to the amount of offspring one has.
I read once that children spell love T_I_M_E. Just what those guilt ridden, over-worked, sleep deprived mothers out there want to hear! But, and here's a little appeasement to run with, I also learned at a workshop on sensory integration, given by a highly qualified clinical psychologist, that a child only needs 10 to 20 minutes of undiluted, focused attention from their parents to thrive and feel secure. This is good to know, but its also incredible how even that small amount of time, multiplied by three can be a tall order on some days.
So having taken the time to question my mothering ways, I have decided to cut myself some slack, be rid of the guilt and just do my best to give them as much of me as I can muster. Oh, and to jump on the trampoline with them here and there - even if it is only once a year!