Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Play more. Dust less.

I have never been a very carefree person. I have always been a very serious person with a daily to-do list and I can't relax or enjoy myself until certain things have been accomplished each day.

But every parenting magazine I pick up tells me not to worry about the laundry, or the dishes, or cleaning the toilets. These articles preach about enjoying my kids now because they won't be little forever. They grow up so fast.

Easier said than done.

These articles never tell me how to stop the voices in my head nagging me about the laundry or balancing the checkbook. They never tell me how I'm supposed to enjoy playing with the kids when I know I've got "work" to do.

Then I read this post from Why Mommy over at Toddler Planet and everything changed.

She has Inflammatory Breast Cancer and is currently undergoing radiation treatments. She is looking at this from a whole new perspective.

She isn't trying to do things with her kids because they are going to grow up so fast. She is trying to do things with her kids now because she is afraid she won't be around to watch them grow up so fast.

And she is worried that their memories of her will be of her telling them "Not now. We'll play later." And she is telling them this not because she has some cheesy little to-do list but because she is tired from radiation therapy or because she is in pain from her mastectomy.

That really struck a chord with me. I have Multiple Sclerosis. And having MS means not knowing when the next flare up is going to occur and what form it may take.

I started thinking about this last week and I decided that the laundry pile can wait. The bills will get paid eventually. The toilets can be dirty for another day.

I really need to go play with my kids.

So I've been pushing them on the swing till my arms are sore. We've been playing Freeze Tag till I'm out of breath. We've been making Flubber and Muck. We've been pouring vinegar and baking soda in their volcano and watching it erupt.

I've been trying to live in the moment more. I've been trying to play more and dust less.

I guess in order for me to start enjoying my kids now before they are all grown up, I have to think about it from a different perspective. I have to think about not what I am missing, but what they are missing.

When my kids are older, I don't want them to remember a grumpy old lady who was constantly putting them off to do chores.

I want them to remember a mommy who was willing to stop making dinner in order to chase them around the backyard.

I want them to remember a mommy who was willing to push them "sky high" on the swing until her arms were tired.

I want them to remember science experiments and homemade play dough.

I want them to remember laughter and ice cream.

I want them to remember a mom who loved them more than anything in the whole world.

And I guess in order to make sure I get this done, I need to put my kids where they belong.

At the top of my to-do list.

post signature

38 comments:

Brittany said...

You certainly need to play more! That's what being a mommy is about. As much as we want to take control of our house and make it spotless- our kids are going to remember those times we played with them WELL over whether or not the house was clean.

Great post and a great reminder! :)

jennwa said...

That is great advise.
I too want them to remember all the things we did together, not how clean our house is.

Melanie said...

This is a great post! I struggle with feeling I "need" to get everything done around the house first. When, in fact, what I really need is to be playing with my kids.

Thanks for the great reminder!

Melissa said...

Ironically, I'm in the same boat, my RA is keeping me from cleaning my house as much as I'd like (and believe me when I say it's a pit) but I try to spend as much time with my family as I can.

On my death bed I doubt I'll be wishing I had cleaned my house more or balanced my checkbook twice a month.

tommie said...

so so true...

I definitely want them ro remember fun things rather than me cleaning all the time!

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

Play more...I need to embrace this mantra myself!

I am really bad about putting things off with my kids while I "attempt" to get the house in order.

Thank you for the reminder about what really is important! (Swinging, not Swiffering!) ;)

Queen of My Domain said...

What a great post Beth. I really need to practice this more myself.

Heather said...

That's a great post. And, if you put them in dirty clothes from the laundry pile to play outside, the laundry pile won't get bigger. And don't forget that, once they are older, they can help you do all the chores that you can put off now while they are growing.

Grandma T said...

Beautiful post! Beautiful Mommie!

Andrea said...

That is so true! Obviously, easier said than done but if I make it a priority in my life, it happens. I've really tried to do more of this since our littlest had his surgery - I so want them to have those memories and if it means that the laundry isn't finished and dinner isn't on time then so be it (which is easy for me to do because I'm not good at those things anyway).

Andrea said...
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Angie said...

I can relate. More than you know. Even though it may not be me in our family who is facing a life threatening illness, it puts things in perspective. The same can be said of my marriage. If Brian doesn't heal, I don't want my memories of my marriage to be me sitting at this computer blogging away looking for comfort when the man I love is sitting in the next room aching for my attention.

KEEP BELIEVING

Corey~living and loving said...

woo hoo. wonderful post. Loved each and every word. what an inspiration.

go play. It is good for YOU too! :)

Chelle' said...

Beth- I didn't know you had MS. When my Lyme symptoms emerged the ER staff swore it was MS and scheduled me for an MRI. Sadly- neurology sought additional testing for ALS etc.

Whatever the case- it's been a struggle for me from the beginning to keep the inconveniences of Lyme from interfering with my children's lives and schedules. I never want them to hear, "Be quiet Mommy's not feeling well" or "We can't because Mommy's muscles are too tired."

About a month ago I committed to sacrificing on behalf of my children the way I seem to sacrifice for my work, my health or my friends.

We've beenn to parks for hours daily since then. Even in the rain. I can already see it in the kids... they notice.

Hang in there! I can't imagine we're the only mom's who ever confront this..

Megan (FriedOkra) said...

So true, so true. Great reflection as we approach summer, when the kids are around much more and there are plenty of opportunities to have BIG fun with them.

Bonnie said...

WOW !!!

bellamocha said...

Beth, this was so moving. I agree wholeheartedly- time is precious and no one knows how many tomorrows there are. My dad wanted to do so many things with me when I was a teenager- I didn't realsie how lucky I was then. One of my most uttered words was 'tomorrow, we'll do it tomorrow' but sadly he didn't have many more. One of the most importnat things to me about being a parent is that my kids can one day say 'my mum made time for us.'

Tonight we're using paper plates for dinner so that we can get outside and help the kids wash their grandfather's car- 'family style' - before it gets too dark.

A wonderful post- Beth, thank you for inspiring us.

Don Mills Diva said...

This is my favorite post of your ever! So lovely and poignant - what a great reminder for us all!

Joanne said...

Beth,

In my book, your best post ever. Bless your heart for sharing with all of us to-do list mommies. I especially loved your line, "I have to think about not what I am missing, but what they are missing."

Love is the sum of many selfless acts doled out on those precious little people God has given to each one of us.

You will be happy to know that I just came back from taking my brood of four out to pizza. My husband is teaching tonight and I decided to spend some alone time with them. Instead of eating and running out of the pizza parlor, I let my three oldest each play their forty year old mother in a game of air hockey. I lost to my two teenagers and tied my nine year old.

Blessings to you my friend...

McMommy said...

I love this post more than you know. I needed this reminder more than you know.

Two words for you:

THANK YOU!

Cathy said...

This was such a fantastic post.

Just tonight, I put my daughter off because I was trying to get things done and before I knew it, bedtime had arrived and we hasn't yet played her pretend game. You're right, some things can absolutely be put off -- other than the kids.

beth said...

Great post. Like most moms, I struggle to find the right balance and this is a great reminder of what is most important.

Beloved MaMa said...

thank you for this wonderful reminder...i hope to remember to play more with my boys...

Beloved MaMa said...

thank you for this wonderful reminder...i hope to remember to play more with my boys...

My Goodness said...

Aw, such a sweet reminder of what is really important!!

the dragonfly said...

My mom always tells me, "If I could change one thing in my life I would have cleaned less and spent more time with you and your brother." Sometimes I feel bad about leaving the dishes for an extra day, or letting the laundry pile up...but then I look at my little boy and remember what my mom told me.

Thanks for the reminder. :)

Family Adventure said...

Excellent post, Beth. I'm guilty of nagging and nagging about their homework, to the point where I wonder if that's all they'll remember of their childhood.

I need to relax, let it go, and just enjoy my children while they're with me.

Thank you for the reminder!!

Heidi

Joanne said...

Beth, I loved this one so much, I put a link for it on my blog.

Have a great weekend!

Jaina said...

Hi! I just came across your blog from another blog roll, and I'm really enjoying what I'm reading. I think I'm going to have to remember this post later on in life. I think you are spot on. And in the meantime, I can apply this to my younger brothers and the rest of my life in general. I look forward to reading more!

Jonatha said...

Wow - that is such a great perspective changing post! I think I'm going to play with my girls right now!

the mother of this lot said...

I think this may be why my house has been a tip for about the last fifteen years!

Steph said...

Thanks for the reality check, Beth. Point well taken! :)

Amy Wyatt said...

This was such a great post! I needed this reminder. The laundry, toilets and dishes aren't going anywhere anytime soon and our kids unfortunately will be gone before we know it.

Mae said...

The one thing about kids is that they grow so fast and when we look around we will wonder where have all this time gone. Enjoy them while they're so young.

Ann(ie) said...

Every post I read of yours makes me like you more and more!!! This is so beautiful and right on the money, girlie. I tend to be the same way; schedule~to do list~work than play and I think it's very important to seize the moment with your babies. xo.

HRH said...

Brilliant. Somedays are easier than others to avoid the mundane.

Christine said...

THanks for sharing this. We all need to play more.

Tracy Berta-daughter to the King, wife, mother, speaker, writer said...

Oh my, I am crying Beth! That was beautifully said!!!!!!

And did it "hit home"!

Thank you and bless you!