Her little voice always seems to summon me for play at the most inconvenient times – amid a never-ending list of cleaning, tidying, organizing, sorting, laundering, and cooking. I’m not always good at stopping, and I will put her off, or even worse dismiss her, explaining that Mommy has to finish this or that.
But she’s insistent. So, when her sweet but assertive command to “come Mama” doesn’t work, she’s not above physical coercion. She recently mastered the “grab and tug,” and I find this irresistible.
Works every time.
Once I’m dragged over to her play space, I’m reminded of her two-year-old reality, one that exists in sharp contrast to mine. Hers is unencumbered by chores, to-do lists, and schedules. It is undisturbed by crumbs on the counters, dried milk spots on the floor, and grimy handprints on the refrigerator. This world is sanguine.
She lives moment to moment, unhurried and has a set of priorities to match. Order for her appears in three boxes of Duplo Legos dumped from their original boxed packaging as she sits in her pink princess tent.
As I sit in her princess tent, our priorities are aligned, and everything else melts away. I like her world.
Until…five minutes later, I can’t feel my legs, and the faint but distinct smell of Chuck E Cheese has settled into my nostrils.
When play wins out over chores, she is happy, and I get a little change in perspective even if in exchange for a whiff of something gross.
But when I choose chores over play and make her wait in favor of finishing whatever I’m doing (barring bloodshed or emergencies of course), great things still happen.
She’s learning the gift of patience when she has to wait.
She’s learning how to manage a home. She’s fostering her imagination through independent play. She’s witnessing one expression of my love for her.
And meanwhile, work is getting done. Maybe whatever task I’m doing is insignificant on its own, but when added to other tasks of equal measure, it matters…they all matter and shouldn’t always be reprioritized.
Meals prepared means full and nourished tummies. Messes cleaned up (when they’re too little to do it themselves) means a hazard-free space. Bills paid means shelter and continued comforts. The sum of all of these, indeed greater than its parts, ensures that her world remains safe and secure, spinning carefree. And isn’t that how it should be?
So, next time she invites me into her pink princess tent, I can choose to stay or go without guilt or consequence, because whatever I choose will be the right thing in that moment.