September 23, 2022

A Motherhood Realization

mom with her kid sharing A Motherhood RealizationA Motherhood Realization

The other night, after Sasha fell asleep (my kids share a room), I lay in Nate’s bed while we quietly chatted about his day. Nate doesn’t often tell us much, but when he does, it’s right at bedtime, when we both have no other distractions. During our conversation, he asked me if our nanny, who we have about 3x a week, was coming tomorrow.

Me: “She is. Why do you ask?” 

Nate: “Well, I love when she comes because she plays with me. You don’t really play with me…” 

Immediately, my brain went into defensive mode. I was so caught off guard and this instantly felt like a huge mom fail. Here I am preparing daily lunches with cute handwritten notes, continuously hugging and kissing him, planning activities outside of school, preparing after-school snacks and dinners and the list goes on.

In my head my reaction was “BUT I DO SO MUCH ELSE!!” 

If only it were that simple. The truth is, he’s not wrong. I started explaining (defending?) all of the ways mommy shows her love. Explaining how people show their love and care in different ways. After all, as a rational adult, I fully believe that, but I’m talking to a 6 year old.

I also follow enough child doctors and psychologists to know that often, our children just want us to get on their level, even if it’s for a few minutes a day.

I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt to hear. It was the first time he really expressed that and I was reminded that it’s so much more than making sure he’s fed, dressed cared for and healthy. Our children simply want us to get on their level and spend time with them.

Keith is way better at that than I am. Not to generalize, but I will for a second. I do think men are better at that than woman are, at least in my case.

I know that I’ll never be that mom that enjoys building a lego or playing cars, but I love a good game, cards and puzzles. The next morning, we woke up and played Monopoly Jr. (with Keith) for 30 minutes and while we had to get into many “you can’t always win” conversations, that’s a topic for another day.  Later on, I ordered a few games like Guess Who, UNO and Mexican Train Dominoes. I can do games! In fact, it was a different type of bonding experience that I realized we were missing.

It was an eye opening conversation for me; I’m sure the first of many. It was also a huge reminder that when the people close to us express what they need, to simply listen. Of course, easier said than done.



  • Jana

    Beautiful Helena. Thank you for sharing. Also dads play w the kids bc we are doing all of the other things. Just sayin!!

    • Emma

      I came here to say that too!

  • Veronika Likht

    I can relate so much. Every day, after school, When my 5yo girl says – mommy, play with me. I know it’s her asking for my time in her language. And most days I’m so exhausted. But. I gotta get that yes out. Even if we play for a few minutes. Also, I don’t feel that guilty, once we do. Meanwhile I just did a million and one thing for her. And worked about 9 hours.

  • Jennifer

    My daughter(3,5) said to me one morning that she loves her grandpa because he plays with her.And she is right.He takes the time to be with her and do silly things,I love this about him as well.Perhaps we all have people that we do love for different things.And one day Nate will say:This late chats with my mum,that she took the time,I really love her for this!

  • HeAther Gavitt

    My daughter, 6, is an only child so I play a lot, Games, like you mentioned, can be a bit easier when you’re tired than playing pretend. I highly recommend Skip-Bo. We all legitimately enjoy playing it together and it’s been fun to watch my girl learn to strategize.

  • Sarah

    Thanks for sharing this! I often feel the same guilt when I hear “But Daddy always plays with us…”. It hurts as I immediately think of all the other things I do like you mentioned: school drop off, pick up, taking them to dance, birthday parties, play dates, etc. But it’s a good reminder that to get on their level and even if it’s 30 minutes, it’s worth it!

  • Tawny

    Thank you for sharing this moment & realization, For me, playing & easily having fun doesn’t come natural. I married a man w/ two kids. Each parent had their strength: dad was the financial & sports support, mom was the fun one, & I was the home & academic help. I think it’s great your little one told you his feelings & you found a way to play that fits both your interests.

  • Marianna Gotlib

    I could have written exactly this! I’ve made peace with the fact that I’m not the “fun” mom a few years ago after therapy which made me realise it doesn’t come natural to me because my parents didn’t play with me and I was pretty self sufficient from a young age. Actually a lot of my Russian friends are the same, it may be a Russian parents thing or a generation thing, who knows. But we parent how we were parented so there you go, hope it helps with the guilt 🙂

  • Stacey

    Also, the fact that he shared those thoughts with you I think shows how safe he feels with you. That is huge.

  • Monica McInnes

    Literally the exact same thing happened to me this week with my 6 year old and it broke my heart. Definitely doing the same thing and making more of an effort to just sit and play! Thanks for sharing! The guilt is real!

  • Becca

    I’m the same! I do everything else but rarely sit and play with my kids. My husband is definitely the fun one and plays with them all the time! I feel guilty but I find it hard to sit down and play!

  • Margarita

    Thank you for sharing this personal and beautiful story. I’m glad you found a way you can both enjoy playing and spending time together.

  • jeannine520

    Aw, I’m sorry Helena, I think most of us can identify with how you felt as we’ve all had one of those reality checks. In addition to my regular work I homeschool my kids and with the other motherly duties I spend most of the day beside them or taking care of them. My husband would come in and spend 25 minutes playing and he’s the hero, the good guy and despite all the work I’d put in all day, it really meant nothing to them, at least at this age. I started getting in the pool with them instead of just watching from the side trying to get in a few more emails. I let them help me cook, and try to play either a board game or do a jigsaw puzzle a few times a week. We’ve also do a movie night. I basically have no time to get to any of my projects but still feel like I’m slacking. When I look back on my childhood I can remember only a few times when my mom actually played with us, it was always my dad who would come home and really engage with us. I get up at 8am and go to bed at 2am, I don’t know where I can find more time.

  • Gretchan Reed

    My son is also 6 and I have followed you since you were pregnant. He also loves sequence for kids, sorry, trouble and zingo! Great family games 🙂


  • Olga Boltuts

    Some time ago you wrote just a sentence or a small paragraph how kids want and appreciate us to get down to their level and do pretend play with them, and how they value those few minutes of our attention. It stuck with me since then, and I try my very best to give as much time to my almost 4 year old son every day as possible.
    I also see how he runs to papa with admiration and adoration…
    Reading these reminders helps to set it all in perspective and make adjustments in our such busy lives.
    Thank you!

  • Andrea feliz

    Very brave to share this and thank you for your honesty. I think most of us mamas can easily relate to this. We carry the weight of the world on our shoulders, but we must remember it’s the simplicity and full attention they need the most. Thanks again, supporting you from afar. You are doing an amazing job.

  • JC

    Thank you for sharing this. I often know and see and feel like I don’t do enough knowing I can possibly be trying to do a bit more. I do play with my son Asher(3 yrs) but honestly nothing compares to Daddy and son time. He wants to play with me but many times I am at a loss of where to begin.

  • Sunnie Bone

    Finding something you both enjoy together is key (like the puzzles and games you mentioned!). I hate playing pretend too, but I love arts/crafts, coloring, and games with my four year old. Fun for both of us. XO

  • Rikke

    My mother in law used to say; “Our children is something we borrow for a short period of time, one day they are grown up and gone. Time is none-refundable, use it with intension.”

  • J

    I so relate! Thank you for sharing this. I love how real you are. Nate is lucky to have such an awesome mama.

  • Krishna

    Nice Post! Thanks for Sharing.
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  • Sandra Cuiña Regueira

    Nice post! Thank you for sharing. XX

  • Diya Makhijani

    Ah so happy you shared this. I had the same realization last week when my 6 year old son told me he loves when his dad is with him more because he plays with him and when I’m with him I’m always “in the kitchen cooking or cleaning”. It really knocked me off my feet bc everything I’m doing is for them but their perspective of quality time is so focused and singular. We are never gonna get these years back so it was a good check for me too on how much I’m missing with them in my quest to get things in the house “perfect”.

  • Ashley

    Thanks for sharing! I am a single mom and can relate that trying keep it all together AND be fun/playful is very hard. I found that incorporating play into some of our responsibilities helped-like tickling or pretending to play dress up while getting dressed or talking like a robots during bath time. Two birds one stone 🙂

  • Sel

    That is why it is so important for parents to know and understand how their children feel loved and once they know that to show their love in that way. This also applies to all of our relationships. There is a book called the Five Love Languages that may assist.

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  • Darren Johnson

    I have been following you for a long time, everything is going well after following your articles. keep it up. Thanks

  • Brittany Knauth

    Ugh I feel this so much! My 4 year old is a pretty good independent thinker/play, but getting on her level is not always my strong suit. I’m doing the appts, activities, cleaning, meal prepping. My husband is really good at getting on her level to play legos or play a game. It’s a tough balance momma! Thanks for sharing, we’re not alone!

  • Jason Sutter

    Moms are amazing. I don’t have kids, but I have two kids I am taking care of right now, and it’s tough to manage your time working and then playing with them.

  • Kate d.

    I love your posts, this one especially. A workaholic woman (My husband says that) Not proud of that, I love my career but I love much more my family. Thank you, I take this as advice for my life, I have to learn to make time.

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