I have one single memory of my mother and I ever playing together. That's not to say that there couldn't be more I suppose. But I can only remember one time which means that it was a rarity for my mom to play with me. And that memory, is one of my most very favorite memories ever too.
In contrast to that, I have dozens upon dozens of memories of my father and I playing games together however. With my brother in the hospital for a good chunk of my childhood, it was he that would play games and read books with me.
There is something to be said for a parent, grandparent or another adult who takes the time to play with a child. I think it is in those moments that a child feels the most loved and enjoyed and delighted in - just for being who they are. It reminds a child that they are worthy of not just love, but of your time and energy. It tells them that their interests and likes are important to someone other than themselves.
When a child hasn't experienced what it is like for someone (mainly their parents) to play with them or know what it is like just to be a delight to someone, it can set them up for a life of believing lies that they are worthless, unlovable, and that they don't matter. That alters how they live their life, make decision, and relate to others. I have found this to be true not just for me because of my mother's absence, but many others whose story I know well.
When I was pregnant a woman gave me one piece of advice for motherhood. "Play. Play with that baby. Don't you wait until you have grand babies to make time to play. You leave those dishes in the sink, and forget about that laundry. Play, play, play with that boy of yours."
I haven't forgotten that piece of advice. And since then as I have recalled what playtime looked like in childhood, I have realized the importance of taking time out to play with Tommy. And not just reading books or watching Sesame Street together. But getting down on his level and playing with his toys. Sitting on the floor in front of the refrigerator and learning ABC's. Blowing bubbles. Chasing him through the house. Going for walks outside - he now looks for my hand and grabs on to it and leads me where we go. (Melts my mommy heart...)
And over the weekend, I made up a new game with his cars. I got out a random shelf that we don't use and set it up like a ramp. I showed Tommy how to roll the cars down the ramp and we watched car after car crash into one another at the bottom.
It was a fun game and it lasted almost a whole hour. He had a blast. And you know what? So did I.
Sometimes I feel like I'm incredibly clueless when it comes to raising a boy. Probably because I'm incredibly "girly." But if I watch closely and pay attention, Tommy usually invites me to something fun or adventurous. Nothing brings me greater joy than seeing his laughs and giggles when we are playing one of our many games together.
His mouth is full of cereal. I can't stop him from stuffing his mouth FULL. He wants to hurry up and eat so he can get back to playing. *sigh*
I hope that as he grows I continue to take time out to just play. To turn the TV off, put my phone down, leave the chores and do what he is interested in with him. I hope he remembers how much he was loved, enjoyed and delighted in. Just for being Tommy.