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“You know, it’s important to play with your children, too,” said a more experienced mom to me when I was much younger. “Healthy meals, a clean home, and all that stuff is important, but you have to play with your children, too. They’re waiting for you.”
It was sound advice, but I really had no clue how to actually do it. I knew how to take them to the playground, how to go for walks, and how to set them up with educational toys. But play? I hadn’t even been good at that when I was a child!
When I was in grade school and it was time to go out to the playground for recess, I would go to the library and read a book. I’d always loved to read, but I was also afraid of being turned away by the other kids. I just couldn’t handle them telling me they didn’t want to play with me, so I stopped going out and asking.
It’s funny; I can remember still the crushing disappointment when I asked for a friend to play with me and they were too busy, or just wanted to play something I wasn’t any good at. When I put myself out there and asked for them to play with me, I was really asking if I mattered enough to play with. And every time I heard “no”, it broke my heart.
Mommy, Will You Play With Me?
“Mommy, can you play with me?”“Mommy, will you color with me?”“Mommy, watch!”“Mommy, want to dance?”“Mommy, let’s go for a walk!”
“Sorry, honey, Mommy has to finish cleaning.”“Okay, sweetie, I’ll take a quick break. I’ve only got a few minutes though.”“Maybe in a little bit; I’m trying to finish up.”“I can’t right now; I need to wash the dishes.”“Oh, baby, I’d love to but the laundry is backed up and I have to get to it.”“How about we do that tomorrow?”
Hear What Their Hearts Are Saying
When I prayed, the Holy Spirit invited me on a journey to hear what their hearts were really asking me.
“Mommy, will you spend time with me?”“Mommy, am I a priority in your life?”“Mommy, I feel insecure right now; will you spend some time affirming your love for me?”“Mommy, I need a friend. Will you like me?”“Mommy, am I special?”“Mommy, do you enjoy being my mommy?”“Mommy, will you invest your time in my life or are you just passing time until I grow up?”“Mommy, will you lay a foundation in my life nowso that when things get tougher we’ll have something to stand on?”