Don’t Leave Us Hungry For Love

Some days I feel guiltier than others.

I’m not one to promote mommy guilt. But last week was bad, even by my standards. I’m going to ‘out’ myself here. I feel like I’m losing my head without sleep.

And my poor kids are noticing.

Yesterday, I found my daughter in the kitchen with a can of Aussie Sprunch spray in one hand, and a fist full of rubber bands in the other. The look in her eyes said it all. Pure excitement.

“Mom, come here!” She called out to me. “It’s make-over time.” My usual busy self hollered back, “Be there in a minute.”

You know how the rest goes. . . I ended up missing a hair appointment with my sweet girl.

Sometimes I drop what I’m doing and indulge my kids.

Sometimes I don’t. Lately, I haven’t been playing with my kids much. I’ve just been keeping them dry and fed. That’s all I can give.

I feel depleted.

Playing with my kids is always in the back of my mind, though. Kind of like a ‘to-do’ list that never gets done.

I’ll make up for it tomorrow . . . Take them for ice cream, let them use glitter in the house. That still wouldn’t be enough. Partly because my two older kids want my affection not something store bought.

They just want me.

Since baby number three arrived, I’ve had a hard time dividing my attention. There’s only one of me and three of them. Each little person has a different need, different personality, and they require a customized delivery of affirmation.

It can get overwhelming.

My husband works late and I’m often left alone with my babies for thirteen long hours. It’s no excuse, I can do better. I’ll find a way to have exclusivity with each child, even if it means alternating piggie back rides down the hall.

For now, I’m just going to keep child rearing simple. I’m not going to beat myself up for missing an opportunity to get my hair teased. Or feel bad for passing on a round of hoops with my son.

My kids know I’m their number one customer, their number one fan. I’m the first person they see when they wake up and the last person they kiss goodnight.

The truth is I work overtime meeting other needs . . . Food, clean clothes, and love. Lots of love.

Do you feel bad for not playing with your kids often? Why do most of us feel horrible about it?

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39 thoughts on “Don’t Leave Us Hungry For Love

  1. It’s okay for kids to recognise that some days you can’t be everything to everyone, life is just like that sometimes. Regardless of how old our children are, we continue to try, with every fibre of our being, to meet their needs, often disregarding our own. Some days we are able to meet all of those needs, some days, not so much.

    I truly believe that regardless of those times/days we feel we fall a little short, if our children feel loved, they prosper in basking in that love most of all. Our grown children (27 & 29) recall so many stories from their days as children, the “not so great” moments simply make for hilarious stories!

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    1. Lynn, you’re right, it’s no surprise that we can’t do it all. Just look how long it’s taken me to get back to your comment. Life takes over and it gets busy.
      But like you said, if our children feel loved, then we’ve done our job. We need to cut ourselves some slack.

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  2. I’ve never been good at playing with my kids. I much prefer taking them on an adventurous excursion out of the house. It’s just what suits my personality as opposed to getting down on the floor to play. My guilty mom moments come more from my impatience than from not playing…although every once in a while I’ll realize they won’t always want to play with me like they do now.

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    1. I love getting out in the open air, too! Nothing beats a walk, trip to the park, or beach. Maybe it’s because I’ve been home with the kids all summer. I feel like I’m running out of ideas to keep them entertained.

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  3. I feel your pain. With my husband away most of the time, I barely have time to play. It’s make dinner, do the dishes, clean up, bath them and somehow I have to find time to play too – but that usually get’s pushed to the weekends when I’m off work. Then I run at night when they are asleep – mommy guilt hits me!
    I do feel bad for not playing with them more but there is only so much I can do. I have to change my expectations of what I can do with them and what I can do around the house….sometimes I don’t put the dishes away for days but I’ll get to put a puzzle together with them. In the end it all get’s done.

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    1. I had no idea you ran at night! You give me hope for recommitting to a workout regimen again. If there’s a will there’s a way. And like you said, we do need to change our expectations about playtime. Love, hugs, and kisses go a long way!

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  4. I feel that guilt too. even though I make sure to play with them outside for an hour or so a day. My daughter constantly wants me to play Barbies with her but there’s no way I could do that all day long and get anything else done like chores.

    But when I beat myself up for this, I remember my own parents hardly EVER played with us kids in the 1970s. They were just off in the distance working or doing chores, and we were fine with it and grew up to be totally well-adjusted adults. I think today’s parents put too much pressure on themselves to be everything for their kids.

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    1. Growing up in the 70’s and 80’s was VERY different. I remember my mom telling me to come home when the street lights turned on. My parents always watched us play from a distance, too.

      Starting to feel better about my mothering already!

      The whole pressure thing is too much. I think every woman has to do what’s natural for her. As for Barbies and tea parties, my daughter is out of that stage. Now, she just dresses her brothers in princess gowns.

      Have a restful night, Darla!

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  5. You have a beautiful family Anka. I have no idea what Mommy guilt feels like but I’m pretty sure your kids know they are loved. I think they’ll remember the hugs and cuddles more than the missed hair appointment or missed game of hoops. I come from a family of huggers. I don’t remember the last time my parents played with me but I sure remember the good hugs I got from them! Hang in there. You’re doing just fine.

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    1. Nelson, I think it’s wonderful that you come from a family of huggers. I’m a hugger, too. In fact, I’ve written a post on hugging, but it’s still sitting in my draft folder. I always feel like I need to reel myself in because I’m invading everyone’s personal space.

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  6. Let me begin by saying you have beautiful adorable kids….you are one and they are three…so it’s handful….even with my only son I struggle many a times…parenting is ain’t easy. The kind of attention it demands and the constant rearing wears you out…but at the same time time lost is lost as they will grow up one day and fly away…so honey you are doing your best…when your heart is at right place you cannot go wrong….just hang in there…..and we mothers are human too….when you get time I wrote something on similar line called I feel blessed and work it out moms….visit mine….until then you are doing great and take care

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    1. Thank you for your encouraging words. They give me permission to be human, to be weak. This is the beauty of bearing one another’s burdens. Recording feelings onto paper/blog is truly liberating. Looking forward to reading your piece!

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  7. I have 4, 2 now grown, and I never really “played” with them. I think it’s okay- there are many ways to be a good parent, and pretending to enjoy pretend play is just not something I chose to do. I love to read to my kids, play games with them, talk to them, take them places, cook and clean for them, etc.
    I don’t think you should worry about it at all. You just had a baby, of course you’re overwhelmed and tired. You’re doing the best you can, and it is more than enough. Your kids will be fine 🙂

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    1. Miriam, you said something that struck a chord with me–the simple act of talking with your kids. I forgot that talking, maintaining an open dialogue with them, is just as important as playing. Maybe even more meaningful at times. Words, especially edifying ones, build them up, affirm them, and keep them going.
      As always, thanks for your advice. I know you’ve been there, done that. Have a restful weekend!

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  8. Great post, Anka. My advice is play with them while you can. You’ll be their unofficial taxi driver before you know it shuttling them to and from activities with others. I never regret the time I make to help my daughter perfect her walkover or get hammered by my son on his Xbox games. How do I find the time? I buy sheets when I run out of clean ones because I forgot to put hang the washing on. Is there someway you could cook less, eat out more with the elder 2 and devise fun things to do together whilst waiting for your food. It’s the only way to ensure you’re not distracted by never ending household chores.

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    1. Nnena soooo good to ‘see’ you!! I giggled when I read about your sheet buying idea. That’s one way to solve the problem. But I’d probably have to stop spending in other areas. Like stop buying stuff I don’t need from Amazon. As for cooking, that doesn’t take up too much time, it’s all the cleaning that keeps me distracted.
      I’ll try to let go of the mess and let things fall where they may. Take good care of yourself my friend!

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  9. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, you have no reason to feel guilty…you give them love, keep them clean and fed. They also have each other to play with. They’ll be fine. I have a feeling mommy needs some mommy time to recharge batteries every now and then. ❤

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    1. Tiny, I’m so distracted by your new gravatar. I LOVE you in red–nice change! Anyway, I agree with your suggestion about needing time to recharge. I think that’s why I started blogging again. It’s a great stress reliever.

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      1. Blogging is good, it gives us wider perspectives in different dimensions whether internal or external, a spa day might be good too… I redo the appearance of my blog every now and then, but had forgotten to change the gravatar. That picture was very dusty by now from all the sand storms in Giza.

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  10. I remember that play time could be the hardest, usually because it was the last thing I wanted to do, and because I felt it should be fun, felt extremely guilty for not doing it as often as I would have liked. I don’t why it’s so hard to do. The kids do love it though, and I bet you’re doing it more often than you think. I had a hard enough time with two. And here you have three! Give yourself grace. That’s my new motto, Anka.

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    1. Amy, I LOVE your new motto. I’m sticking to it! Every time I feel like beating myself up, I will remember to switch up the dialogue and give myself grace. We could all learn to treat ourselves kinder, right?
      Have a lovely weekend my beautiful friend!

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  11. My dearest Anka, I can not begin to tell you how much I understand and feel each and every word you wrote. As a matter of fact mommy guilt hits me way more often than I would like to admit. I never liked playing with my kids as opposed to my mom who always played with us for hours (which only makes the mommy guilt worse) but I recently came to the conclusion that its not really sincere if it doesnt truly come from the heart and I try to do other things with them, like cooking, playing board games, taking them places, talking to them, cuddling, making the occasional craft. What I realised, now that I have three, is that whats important to them is some quality one on one time, even if it is only once a week.
    I missed you my friend.
    Love & extra hugs (I am a hugger as well)

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    1. My Sweet Tatu,
      Congratulations on your little blessing!!! He’s beautiful. I love his tiny feet. I can’t believe we’re both a party of five now.
      I wish you weren’t a continent away so we could share all the changes with each other in person. It’s funny how going from two to three kids seems initially scary. But once the baby arrives, you quickly realize he only needs love. And we, of course, need sleep.
      The infant stage goes by SO FAST! My little guy is almost one and already crawling all over the place.
      I miss you my friend!! Looking forward to catching up with you soon–maybe in the form of another long email or just a visit to your blog.
      From one hugger to another–
      Lots of love and good rest!!

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  12. I did feel bad about it, especially the first couple months after J was born. Now I know I am doing what I can with what I have, and take comfort in knowing that these low energy days where I can barely stay awake, let alone give any more, are but a small part of the whole experience of childhood both my kids will have. *hugs*

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    1. So true, Deborah! The second time around you definitely learn to go easy on yourself–to cut yourself some slack. I remember thinking I failed my first baby because she didn’t latch on properly out of the womb.
      There really is something to be said about grace and experience. Hope you and your precious babies are staying healthy and doing well. And I hope you’re beating this heat. It’s been brutal lately!!

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  13. Play with glitter in the house? Well, this single – dad – every – other – week learned something about glitter: don’t wash your little girl’s tops that have glitter on them with papa’s clothes.

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    1. Sparkle is delivered weekly at my house, too, Koji. I have to find clever hiding places for my daughter’s glitter nail polish sets. My boys love getting into her stuff when she’s not home!

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