Time for a flight of fancy
Suddenly, a trip to 'outer space' with my son seemed far more important than folding laundry.
"Mom, want to go to Mars with me?" Looking up from the celery I was chopping for potato salad, I saw my son Joe standing in the kitchen doorway as he waited for my answer. Wearing a football helmet with stars drawn crookedly on each side, gray sweat pants, and a matching gray sweat shirt, he looked very NASA-ready to me.Skip to next paragraph
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But I shook my head.
"I'm sorry, sweetie. Not right now. There's a mountain of laundry down in the basement for me to fold and put away when I'm done in the kitchen."
Joe's face fell. His brother wasn't home, and his father was still at work. I was his only hope for someone to play with.
"How about Saturn? We could ride around the rings a few times," he added alluringly.
"Maybe later," I suggested, knowing full well that "later" usually never comes. "I'm really, really busy right now."
Joe left the kitchen without another word, and I returned to my celery, feeling a sudden stab of guilt. Something about the slope of his shoulders under his sweat shirt told me how much I'd disappointed him. Again.
"I can't play all the time," I told myself somewhat self-righteously. "I've got other things to do, too."
But the guilty feeling didn't go away.
As a mom, I sometimes think I say the word "no" too often. Not to requests for spaghetti – again – for dinner or an extra story at bedtime or even to a new toy when we go to the mall.
The requests that I almost always refuse are the little, more time-consuming ones: one more bike ride around the block when I need to get back to the house, another round of Go Fish when I'm about to wash my hair, five more minutes on the swings when it's time to go home and start dinner.
But most of all, I say no to the games that involve any and all flights of fancy.
Something has happened to me as an adult. I have zero interest in flying to Mars or sitting under a hot tent made out of blankets while pretending to be in the jungles of Africa.
I no longer want to make believe we are walking on the bottom of the ocean, seeing giant squirrels in the sky, or visiting a family of robots for lunch.
Even though I can clearly remember playing with my Barbie dolls for hours upon hours when I was growing up, I've apparently lost the ability to maintain my imagination for periods of time longer than five minutes.
Where did all my tolerance for such pleasant pastimes go? Is it a natural consequence of having children and accepting the role as the grown-up in the house? Or do I simply have too much on my mind, too much day-to-day clutter taking over the space once inhabited by imaginary friends and pretend trips to Oz?