I hate admitting this, but between work and chores, I didn’t always have time to play right when my daughter wanted me to. It was never because I didn’t want to, but it always felt like she asked at terrible times.
When I was elbow deep in dishes or raking the backyard — Mommy can we play a game?
I always tried to compromise and promised we would play just as soon as I finished with what I was doing, but sometimes life gets away from you and you forget to make time for the things that actually matter.
So many nights I watched her sleep, my heart heavy with guilt because the troll game was still sitting on the toy-box unplayed, or we never got around to swinging that day.
I consoled myself with thoughts of clean dishes and washed clothes. Those things are important too, right?
When I think back on how many times the words “not right now” came flying from my well-meaning lips, my heart shatters. I wish I could pick up the pieces, glue them back together to make a time machine and revisit the memories. I would put down the sponge, the dishes could wait. I would say to hell with the laundry, I could fold it later.
I would focus on what was important THEN and make memories with my daughter.
I’m not saying I never played with my daughter. I’ve invested countless hours hiding and seeking, letting her win games and preforming some mean under-doggies. I’ve played and then played more so I’m confident that she never sits there and wonders why Mommy never played with her.
It’s just now that she’s getting older, the tables have turned and I’ve become the one begging to play with her.
Now it’s me who stands in the doorway of her room, troll game in hand, with an enormous grin on my face … Kayleigh, can we play a game?
Now it’s her who let’s me down easy with a promise of “later mom” because she is going outside to play with her friends.
Now it’s me who watches her from the window upstairs, my face pressed against the glass, wishing I could turn back time to when I was the most important thing in her life.
Watching your child grow up is a bittersweet feeling. It’s rewarding as hell because you did it, you’ve kept a little human alive. You lived through the endless nights full of crying — from both adult and child. You survived the volcano eruptions of doom from diaper city. All the times you said “I can’t do this anymore”, well, you did it! On the other hand, all the little things that meant the world to you start to fade away.
They no longer run to you when they fall down. They don’t need you to chase away the monsters under the bed. They can tuck themselves into bed now, mom! God forbid they’re seen in public with you. You, the person who could do no wrong, are now the most embarrassing person in the world. They don’t want to play with mom anymore because they have a gaggle of friends waiting for them outside.
I sit back and think about my glory days. I was a hero of men. With just my pinky, I could chase away monsters and heal a wounded knee. My kisses had both the power to heal and the power to comfort. I was a magical goddess in the eyes of my child.
I don’t know when that goddess turned into a frumpy mom, looking out the bedroom window, troll game in my hand and a tear on my cheek.
Don’t screw up the moments that mean the most. Play when they want to play. Play your heart out, because there will come a day when you’re the one asking to play, and that day will come sooner than you know.