one million words

find your voice. tell your story.

Mommy, can you play with me?

“Mommy, can you play with me?”

“Not right now.”

‘Not right now’ has become my standard answer, it sounds a little softer than a ‘No’ but essentially means the same thing. I am embarrassed to admit that the question alone annoys me a little because, come on, who has time to play on the floor….

I used to be more playful, I think. Not sure what happened. I am growing older, more set in my ways… carry responsibility, am mentally pre-occupied with ‘stuff’. My attitude and actions speak of valuing productivity over playfulness. The request to drop everything  and play-time innocently brushes against my own rigidity and value system. I’ve grown comfortable in engaging in predictable patterns.


My way of playing typically involves an element of productivity. Crafts can teach facts, a game has strategy and we all love books. I’d rather read to my kids then get down on the floor and pretend to be a pony.

Playfulness involves a measure of flexibility, even humility. Playfulness pushes us past task mode into the land of imagination. Playfulness is expressing ourselves in ways other than our default settings. Playfulness disrupts our train of thought, our plan. The invitation to play typically comes as an interruption and we’ve developed an allergy towards intrusion. Yielding to playfulness means we are no longer in control.

I’ve  grown rigid enough that switching out of my role resembles the agility of a hippopotamus in a dressing room. If effort exceeds reward, I am out. Excuses start mounting:

I’d love to play….BUT

I first have to cook dinner.

These toys need to be picked up.

I have to check something on my phone.

Why don’t you play with your sister for now?

The kids know my excuses and yet they keeping coming for me. Play is of highest value in their little world. Playfulness is their preferred way to engage with another and I don’t think they can help but pursue me this way.

“Mommy, can you play with me?” is not an interruption but an invitation into genuine relationship. Playfulness beckons to see me, the part of me often hidden beneath to do lists and accomplishments. Playfulness calls me out of my comfort zone. I am led to release control of the current moment, push past apathy and ambivalence into creative connection.

I am fairly certain my kids most favorite moments are the ones in which I let go of my “But’s” and surprise them with a generous dose of my most playful self. It’s down in there, somewhere, right down from the door that holds my joy.

So the next time my kids ask: Mommy, will you play with me, and I am sure they will ask again, perhaps tomorrow, I will release a few of my “But’s”, do a little twirl and shout: Yes! Let’s do it!

Who would you like me to be today? Pony or princess….

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” – Plato
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14 Replies

  1. I remember those days all too well. I too preferred reading a book or something constructive. But now as a brand new grandmother, I see just how fast time goes by. It is surreal to push my precious granddaughter around the block in the stroller, the very block I walked her momma around – seems just like yesterday…

    This is always my advice to young moms. To enjoy every moment. There will always be dishes and to-do lists because before we know it, our children will be out of the “play with me” stage just when we are craving to spend time with them.

    How edifying that the Lord spoke to your heart to leave more of the “but’s behind”. I love your idea of surprising them with “lets play!” 🙂

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Astrid Melton

      Yes- they say the days are long but the years are short so you better enjoy… Thanks for stopping by.

  2. cecelia

    Think how surprised they will be when you shout “yes” and twirl! That will certainly encourage more asking. 🙂 Thanks for the thought!

    1. Astrid Melton

      Totally. And them asking for more and more is a barrier for me not to say yes in the first place…

  3. You did it again! your use of words pulls me in… besides the truth you share..
    Thanks, Astrid! and DO get on the floor while your body lets you do it! That was always my favorite place to sit, lay down, etc. I never imagined that one day I would be limited. So, do it while you can! Sending lots of hugs.

    1. Astrid Melton

      Good reminder Voni. I know the floor is off limits to you but you have aged rather gracefully!

  4. UGH.
    Yeah, I have done that. And these days are fleeting and are gone all too quickly. I want to build relationships with my kids, but I never thought or play as doing that. I know it seems so obvious, but… I can be a little dense, I suppose! Yeah. Let’s say yes to playing! There has to be time for them too! 🙂

    1. Astrid Melton

      Yes-time on their terms!

  5. “Not right now.” Oh, how I wish those words didn’t exist in my momcabulary. I think we all need the reminder to get rid of our “buts” when it comes to our kiddos! Thank you, Astrid, for your as-usual-perfect-words of encouragement and truth. #livefreeThursday

    1. Astrid Melton

      Momcabulary- ha ha. I love it

  6. Oh Astrid! I remember those days all too well. I’m kind of like you. Hard to just play. I think often even ten or twenty minutes yield exponential dividends, and what would we really get done in ten or twenty minutes anyway? Blessings on you and your kids. For me these days, it’s a walk around the park, or doing pilates with my daughter, or going for an ice cream. Even playing one or two rounds of cards with my son. 🙂

    1. Astrid Melton

      Yes- even a few minutes can be very meaningful!

  7. An invitation to connect. This speaks to me. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about how people express love and try to enter into relationship with each other. for little children to invite you to play that seems like a very sweet way for them to invite you into relationship. thank you for reminding us.

    1. Astrid Melton

      Yes-we must be willing to connect in ways that others value and find meaningful.

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