I love my kids more than anything in the world. They’re cute and funny and smart and amazing. It’s just that sometimes, I love them even more from a distance. For example, when we’re at the park and I’m sitting on a bench at one end and they’re playing waaayyyy at the other end completely engrossed in swinging or sliding or climbing without a care.
I love to watch them, and I smile to myself at how cute they are and how independent they’ve become. I enjoy these moments and soak them in, taking mental pictures. Because they do not last. It’s only a matter of time until they remember that I’m there.
They look over and stare at me to see if I’m looking at them. If I don’t wave to acknowledge them, I have about five seconds before they come bounding over with some sort of request. I have to go to the bathroom! I’m thirsty! Watch me do this! Push me on the swings! Help me on the monkey bars! If I do acknowledge them, well, the same exact thing will happen.
When we’re at home and I hear them laughing and playing (or sometimes even being completely silent!) in the next room, I desperately want to go see what they’re up to, but I don’t dare (unless there’s a little too much laughter or they’re being a bit too quiet) because it ruins the whole thing.
The moment you distract your kids from entertaining themselves is the moment that they magically become “bored” with whatever it was they were doing, and you become the one who is supposed to entertain them. Like I said, I love my kids, but even if I had all the time and energy in the world, that doesn’t mean I want to play with them all the time.
It’s fun playing games with my kids, even when it’s a game I don’t understand because they made it up and it makes no sense. But I think it’s important for them to learn how to play without direction from me. That’s how their little imaginations grow and how they learn to be independent. If they always have Mom or Dad there planning out their every move, I feel like they’ll have a harder time learning to think for themselves. And the fact that it gives me a small break is just a little bonus.
I wrote a post a few months ago talking about how I don’t miss my kids when they’re at school. Of course, I’m kidding (well, mostly kidding) about that, but just as important as I think it is for my kids to learn to play without me, I also need to learn to “play” without them. Of course, my idea of “playing” is getting to go to the grocery store by myself, but I think it still applies.
So, while I do love my kids, loving them from a distance every now and then can sometimes be the best thing for them. And for me.