I’m feeling discouraged tonight. Earlier, Reese had given me a piece of paper and asked me to write down some things that I like to do. I added some random things to it: eat chocolate, watch movies, read, play. She took the paper into her room and I heard her sounding out the words.
“PLAY?!!” she exclaimed. “SHE DOESN’T LIKE TO PLAY!!!”
I think the reason that her statement hurt so much was from my flash of guilt. I don’t run around with the kids and chase after them for hours at a time like Joe.
Yesterday it started raining while I was making dinner. I moved the spaghetti to the back burner and had the kids put on their shoes to go outside. It was just sprinkling a little bit when we went outside, but I found an umbrella, and Reese was especially excited to try out her frog boots in the little puddle at the end of the driveway.
Easton was embarrassed to be seen with a pink umbrella, but after a little more searching we were able to find a manly black umbrella in the trunk of the car.
I let them splash and play for a while, and I kept busy snapping pictures. At one point I had Easton share his umbrella with me so we could get closer to Reese and take a few more pictures. I might wonder if people were pointing and laughing at us huddled under the little umbrella, with me trying desperately to keep my camera from getting splashed, but I think most of my neighbors are used to seeing me doing this kind of thing after 10 years of living here.
I ordered some used books a few weeks ago and I’ve been patiently waiting for them to arrive. They finally came today, and the ones that I was the most excited about were “Wind in the Willows” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. I’ve been picturing us sitting down in the evenings so I could read to them, and then they’d drift off into a blissful slumber with the images from my storytelling dancing in their minds and dreams.
What actually happened is this: I asked the kids to come into the living room so I could read them a story. Reese threw down her toy and told me that she didn’t want to read. Easton asked if he could please just keep watching Netflix, and offered to let me read to them tomorrow. I dragged Reese over to the couch and made them both sit down on either side of me. Reese laid down on the pillow beside me and covered her ears with her hands, softly moaning in agony that she didn’t want to read. Easton picked up a book that was nearby and started to do his own reading.
I snapped at them to pay attention, and kept on with my storytelling. We got as far as Grandpa Joe starting in on his story about Prince Pondicherry asking Mr. Wonka to build his palace out of chocolate, (which is where the story finally started to get interesting, in my mind) when Easton started begging me to please stop at chapter four. Reese joined in and I finally slammed the book shut and told them to get ready for bed.
The funny thing about feeling guilt is that it keeps creeping up on you, over and over again. This afternoon I went outside with the kids to play in the backyard. Reese has been asking me for a few weeks to make her a flower chain to wear in her hair like this one from a year or two ago, (which I was going to post but I can’t find the picture I was looking for.) Anyway, I snuck into the front yard and put together a flower chain as a surprise for her to wear. Luckily, we have dozens of dandelions at my disposal!
I positioned Reesie under a tree and ran back in the house to grab my camera. When I came out of the house a minute later she was screaming hysterically and tears were running down her face. A spider had crawled onto her leg and she was frozen with fear. I got the spider off of her, but by that time she wanted to go back in the house. That was the end of that.
I need to take the time to PLAY with my kids. They would have had a much better memory of dancing in the rain if their mom had joined in on the fun instead of just watching from the sidelines. I’m not going to stop taking pictures; it’s too much a part of who I am, but hopefully I can take the time to be more involved and not just snap pictures. I don’t want my kids to remember me as “that lady with the camera”.
I’ve written about this before, and I’m sure that I’ll be writing about it again in the future, but hopefully I can try a little harder to really be there for my kids. I don’t like guilt.