The Problem of Play

I have recently developed a theory about marriage, and it goes something like this:

People who like to play games tend to marry people who do not like to play games.  Gamers marry non-gamers.

Simple, right?

However, if you are at this moment nodding your head in agreement, then you know, as I do, and have experienced, as I have, the many, many difficulties that this little theory means for a marriage.

Gamers see a get-together of family or friends as an opportunity to pull out a deck of cards, or a board game, or some other form of torture for his or her non-gaming spouse who views this same gathering as a time to catch up, or relax, or just not be submitted to the agony of having to play. 

In other words, non-gamers prefer to act like adults.

Can you guess which one I am?

As a child my family fought through volleyball games, cried over Bingo, quit Monopoly as early as possible, and I once witnessed one of us stomp out of the room enraged over the answer “Harriet Tubman” in the first round of Pictionary. 

We are decidedly non-gamers.

But then I went and married my opposite.

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Over our nearly 10 years of marital bliss, I have been forced on many occasions to play. I tried to enjoy the games, honest I did, but my theory formed as a result of these failed attempts at fun.

We nearly divorced over a game of Spades.  Or was it Battle of the Sexes? Oh, it was both. On the same trip.

Then there was Euchre with his grandma. Yikes. 

And there was another card game on a ski trip that went badly awry. I nearly strangled Josh. Seriously, I did.

Unfortunately, my dislike of games does not only cause troubles in marriage-land.  

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It tends to trickle over into my parenting. 

I am 31-years-old, have been a mom for five years, and I’m just beginning to learn how to play.

My deep desire to be the best mom, wife and homemaker I can be has produced a tidy home, tasty meals, and kids who (usually) obey, but it has also caused the scales to dip dangerously in the direction of our home resembling a boot camp.

I am ashamed to admit that I have passed on many invitations to attend tea parties upstairs or dance like a princess in the living room because “I just need to get this laundry going” or “I’m loading the dishwasher right now.” 

How many times have I turned down an opportunity to enjoy my children in exchange for a cleaner house?

I don’t know the answer, but the question alone hurts my heart. Too many times.

There is certainly a tricky tightrope to be walked here.  The laundry does need to be done and the kitchen cleaned, but how often? Ten years of home-making and three kids later, and I’m still not so sure I know. 

A dear, wise friend recently pointed to the far wall of the large room we stood in and said, “Imagine cleaning your house is like painting that wall.  You painted the whole thing yesterday. Then today, you went back and re-painted. Same thing tomorrow. Day after day you repaint that same wall.  But what would have happen if, one day, you just didn’t paint it?” 

It simply does not come naturally to me to choose games over duty, and I envy my husband’s ability to play. To separate himself from his work. To not act like an adult. 

But I am learning to step away from the paintbrush. 

Because there’s just no need to sweep now. There will be even more crumbs on the floor after lunch, but the precocious three-year-old needing a push on the swings won’t wait forever.  

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Dirty dishes will never be as important as the super-high block-tower (and its super-incredible architect) that needs to be gushed over immediately! 

The dust on the ceiling fans isn’t going anywhere either. But the five-year-old is about to go to Kindergarten, and nobody notices the ceiling fans anyway. 

And, honestly, I’m kind of beginning to come around on games. I’m a big Hungry Hippos fan, and I am killer at Guess Who? 

Just ask Josh. 

 

 So, what about you? Is my theory correct? Am I right or am I right? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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8 Comments:


  1. Annette said:

    Hannah, I’m still loving your blog! You so much remind me of a very close friend of mine she’s a momma of 6 kids 8 and under!! You are wise beyond your years! Most people only look back with regret with the lessons you’re learning, I’m so very very proud of you! You are a wonderful, daughter, wife and mom, and friend (cousin) too, wish I lived closer to you so I could “gleen” from your life’s lessons.

    Reply

    1. Hannah Post author said:

      It is a shame we live so far away, Annette. I hate that my kids are missing out on knowing my “Chicago” family. I have such wonderful childhood memories of time spent with you guys. Thanks for reading and commenting. I appreciate it so much!

      Reply

      1. Annette Hesson said:

        You are Josh and your sweet kids are welcome to stay at my home anytime you want to visit Chicago! The only thing I won’t do is drive you around down there! I am not a city driver! 🙂

        Reply

        1. Hannah Post author said:

          Ooh! Sounds fun! Thanks for the offer!

          Reply

  2. Judy said:

    I think gamers like to play so much because they know they can win pretty much all the time. So non-gamers like me stay away from things where I can’t win:):)

    Reply

    1. Hannah Post author said:

      I believe you were the MVP of your high school basketball team, were you not?? That doesn’t sound like someone who can’t win to me. 😉

      Reply

  3. Jessica said:

    I love this! You are so right. I’ve been in the mom game only 2 1/2 years now and have only gotten to stay home for 4 months so I’m trying desperately to fine the balance between play time and adult tasks. I have said no to play more times than I would like but with my moms advice I have left a sink full of dishes to “follow me momma” and those are the best moments I’ve had as a mom. Just knowing that I put my child first makes me feel so accomplished, even when the dishes are still waiting the next day.

    Reply

    1. Hannah Post author said:

      Hi Jessica! Good for you for figuring this out so early in your little one’s life! You won’t be sorry. I wish I could pinpoint why it is so tempting for me to clean, and I think it has to do with completing a task that is tangible. I feel like I know (and my husband will know) that I did something important today because I can see the results- a clean house. And we can’t see the results of playing with my kids quite as easily. So it is so much easier to focus on the here and now than think ahead to the future- when that time spent playing with my kids will pay off much more than my clean house ever did. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Reply

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