We all have those days when we suck at being moms. When we’re tired or sick or hurting or just otherwise checked out a little for whatever reason. At least, I hope we do, and I’m not the only one who’s spent a day saying “no” to playing with my kids. Who’s asked them to entertain each other while Daddy’s at work because I can’t think of one more activity to do together, and even if I could I don’t have the energy for it.
A few days ago I woke up with an anvil in my sinuses and fire in my throat, aching all over. Were my job not such a workaholic’s dream, I would’ve called in sick. But of course I didn’t have that option. So I dragged a pillow and a blanket down to the couch and announced to the kids that Mama felt like crap.
Remarkably, they were very kind about it. At first. They watched a couple of movies and played Legos together. I supplied juice and waffles, and they stopped whining about breakfast. We made it until about 9:30am without any problems, and I even got to doze off for a few minutes. It was then, as dozing teetered on the edge of a nice nap, that the bickering and whines of “I’m bo-ored” began.
I have little – no, zero – pity for my boys when they say they’re bored. They’ve finally reached ages where they enjoy and are capable of most of the same things, so they are inseparable and can entertain each other. Not to mention we have every toy or game they could want, a large back yard, and half a library full of books. What they really mean is they’re missing my attention and they’re feeling too lazy to find something to do on their own.
When I had only N, I may have ruined him a little by entertaining him all the time. N was 2 and a half when he brother was born, and for 2 and a half years I was so enthralled by motherhood that I spent way too much time entertaining him. Then, when my little K was born, I felt endlessly guilty that I didn’t have the constant time and attention to shower on him. I still feel guilty sometimes that the second doesn’t ever get to be an only child – to have his parents’ singular, undivided love and adoration.
But it is his reality. As is having a really great older brother to show him how to play, build, run, and enjoy life. He has a best friend who is his biggest ally and, although he’s also his brother’s biggest competitor, he’ll always have that friendship. So while he won’t get that special only-child lifestyle, he also won’t be as ruined by too much parental entertainment early on. He whines about boredom because he hears big-kid N do it, but he’s much more self-directed than his brother is at times.
So even if I lay in bed after those Sucky-Mommy days and wish I hadn’t said “no” to playing quite as many times or that I’d done just a little more with them to help them have fun, I have to give myself a break. It’s good for them to learn to find their own things to do, and it’s good for them to work through their boredom together without intervention. I mean really, at least I got out of bed and toasted waffles. I even made 2 peanut butter sandwiches and cut up an apple for lunch. Boredom or not, at least they survived.