Stay and Play
Last week my oldest had his first organized baseball game. When the game was over players, parents and grandparents cleared off that field so fast, you'd swear someone had ordered an evacuation. The common themes emerging from the crowd's chatter included figuring out what to eat for dinner (it was 7pm), hustling home to tackle unfinished homework and getting little ones to bed.
Admittedly, this was what the voice inside my head was telling me to do as well, minus the homework of course, but then a little voice said out loud, "Can we stay and practice batting, Daddy?"
Back inside my head that voice went something like, "No, no no. It's time for dinner. The boys need to go to bed on time. I NEED the boys to go to bed on time. I didn't get HALF the things done today that I wanted to get done because these boys have been asking me for every possible thing All. Day. Long. Dear husband, don't you DARE tell these children we can stay a second longer."
My polite attempt to diffuse the situation: "I don't think we have the bat in the car."
My husband's equally polite response: "I'll go check."
He returns with the bat. It was at that exact moment that I truly wished I could shoot daggers with my eyes. The boys (big and little) run onto the field.
"Mom. come and play!"
But it's dinner time.
"Mom, please come and play."
I put dinner in the crockpot. I planned ahead so we could go home and have dinner on time.
"Come on, Mom! We need a fielder."
Everybody else left. Why aren't we leaving too?
I've mentioned before that I thrive on schedules and routines. I think that's why I was able to do well in school, despite constantly wishing that I could sing and act all day long instead. I seem to have that rigidity programed as my default setting. Even my mother who was, shall we say, rather firm about bedtime when I was growing up, has had to remind me to embrace the flexibility that homeschooling brings.
Everybody else left because for everybody else, the routine continues tomorrow. Everybody else will be up at the crack of dawn tomorrow. Everybody else has school. Everybody else homework.
I grab my glove and trot out onto the field to join my family. I'm still not happy about it and I'm pretty sure the look on my face communicated that rather clearly. I am SO ready to be off mom-duty but out I go and it isn't long before we're all smiling and making jokes and laughing. We stayed maybe an extra 20 minutes. We had the field to ourselves. We ran bases. We took turns fielding and pitching and batting. I threw a few pitches that got by my husband. Ha!
We came home and had dinner and talked and laughed and truly enjoyed one another's company. The boys were in bed not much later than their normal time. We aim for 8:30 but it's usually more like nine before they're in bed and mmmppphhhfff o'clock before they actually fall asleep, but that night they were out like a light and I still stayed up way too late enjoying my time "off-duty" writing and reading (and Facebooking...and Instagraming).
So, even if the routine would be shattered, stay and play.
Even when dinner is ready in the crockpot, stay and play.
Even when you're tired or "mommed-out," stay and play.
Even if there is homework or housework to do, stay and play.
Be flexible. Enjoy your family. Stay and play.