I Suck at Playing…and it’s OK

By Mara Needham of Peace River, AB

I like to think I’m doing pretty ok in the mom department: I pack my kids (relatively) healthy lunches every day, we are on time for school, we read stories at bedtime and for the most part my kids are happy, well adjusted kids. But I have a confession. There is one area where I am severely failing as a mom: I suck at playing. While I’ll play board games, card games and do puzzles with my kids, when it comes to imaginative play- you know the kind where you’re down on the floor building Legos, having a tea party, playing hot wheels and trains or coming up with new Paw Patrol episodes to act out in the basement- I am awful.

I used to beat myself up and stress over my lack of playing ability. I thought in order to be a great mom, I had to be great at everything. But guess what? I don’t have to be. In fact, I’d bet every mom has an area (perhaps even more than one) that they feel they are failing at- even the moms who look like they stepped out of the pages of Vogue or have Pinterest inspired birthday parties or who get on the floor and play with their kids every day. Yet we somehow all feel like failures and that we don’t measure up to other moms.

You know who doesn’t suck at playing? My husband.

He will get down on the floor and come up with elaborate scenarios and situations for Ryder and the pups, build crazy award winning hot wheels tracks and sit and have so many cups of “tea” he has a British accent. He is a fabulous player. And I have never felt the need to compete with him over it.

Instead I am grateful my kids have a dad with imagination and wants to play. But if another mom came along and started playing with my kids, I know I’d feel this twinge of inadequacy in my stomach and that I better get down on the floor cause what if she thinks I’m a bad mom? When did we as moms start putting so much pressure on ourselves to compete against each other and to be the “best”? When we did we start feeling judged if we aren’t “perfect”?

The sad thing is, I can almost guarantee our kids don’t care about any of it. They don’t care what kind of birthday cake they have. They don’t care if you live in yoga pants and ponytails. They don’t care if the pancakes at Easter brunch are boring normal looking pancakes. They don’t care if you have zero imagination. They just want your time and your love. And in return they love you unconditionally, no matter what.

I can also pretty much guarantee that the person you’re competing with is your own voice in your head. I would never talk about another mom the way I judge myself. I don’t look down at the frazzled mom at school drop-off, cause chances are, it’ll be me tomorrow. I don’t go to a birthday and turn down birthday cake because it’s cupcakes with Betty Crocker icing. Let’s stop striving for “perfection”. Let’s stop worrying and putting pressure on ourselves. Let’s all just be who we are, faults and all.

Mara Needham is a stay at home mom to 6 year old boy and 3.5 year old girl. Wife of 8 years. She lives in Peace River and has an unhealthy love of food and country music.  Find Mara on 

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