When I was a kid I had a wild imagination. From my family with New Kid Joey McIntyre to my performances in Les Miserables, I was a star. For a while I was considering a career as an assassin or an archaeologist or a Broadway star (despite, of course, quitting dance lessons and never taking singing lessons and also being petrified of speaking in front of people).
From the time I could write I would make up stores. I made a book for my Mom that she kept – a selection of short stories. I would create characters and stories in my head and they would come out of me.
Somewhere along the way I feel as though I lost a lot of that imagination. It’s much harder to write fiction now, I struggle with ideas a lot.
When I played with other people’s kids, before I had my own, I had a hard time playing along with their imaginations. If their doll was talking to my doll I would struggle with what to say back. Playing with my daughter and engaging with her was actually one of the things I was most worried about as I thought about her growing up.
It’s something her Daddy is much better at than me. There are days when I feel like a total failure in terms of play. It was so much easier when she was just a baby and I could make her smile just talking to her and sitting on the floor with her, squeaking toys and making faces.
I can sit and read to her. I can watch her in the bath. I can sit with her and blow bubbles. I can lie with her and watch a show on TV.
When she asks me to help her cook in her play kitchen or to play with her people in her little toy house, or when she asks me to cheer for her while she plays pretend soccer, I’m just not good at it.
I’m the mom that signs her up for activities or takes her to the park and let’s her play by herself or with other kids. I’m the mom that has her computer open because there are things to pay attention to. I’m the mom that says ‘just a second’ or ‘I’ll be right there.’ I’m the mom that feels like she’s falling down.
I lost my ability to play.