mayacama mama

Reflections on the Need to Play



Two weekends ago, I took a day off from my mama duties.  I metaphorically ran away.  I needed to get out of town to rejuvenate my sapped out body, mind, and spirit.  You may wonder why that was necessary considering I went on vacation only last month. I wondered that myself.  I’ve spent more time than I’d like to admit pondering why I feel like I’m going insane being here at home with loud little ones.  And then I realized, I am an introvert and it’s really hard to be around people who need me 24-7 and never have alone time.  And so I did as Jesus did and went off by myself.  If I hadn’t given myself that time away, the mean, mad mama side of me would have stayed a lot longer than I would have liked. And unfortunately, just one day away hasn’t seemed to completely cure my mean, mad mama side.  She still lurks around the corner especially around nap time, bath time, and bed time.

A week previously during my near mental break down, I was listening to this Krista Tippett On Being Podcast with Dr. Stuart Brown called “Play, Spirit, and Character” which led me to the realization that I needed time away to play to feel human again. Dr. Brown discussed on the podcast his thoughts on the question–if we don’t play what are the consequences?  He says, “the human being really is designed biologically to play throughout the life cycle. When one really doesn’t play at all or very little in adulthood, there are consequences–rigidity, depression, lack of adaptability, no irony, things that are pretty important that enable us to cope in a world of many demands.” What he said rang true for me in my own little, simple life as a stay-at-home mom. I’ve written about play before, but that wasn’t “my play” but rather Zoey’s. I needed play time for myself.  Some mothers can’t imagine being away from their little ones, but for me, I knew I needed to go off to replenish my spirit.  I took comfort and tried to let go of the mama guilt thinking about how Jesus needed time away to replenish his spirit, too from helping and serving others.  I may no longer be a practicing social worker, but my daily life is still a life of service to my children and husband.

Stephen and I often get asked the question “what do you do all day?” once a person learns neither one of us has a traditional paying job.  I think Stephen hears it less these days because he’s working at the ranch five or more days a week even though he’s not getting a paycheck for his work.  Just the other day, the mother of one of Zoey’s friends asked me what I would do once we moved to the ranch. I felt I had to justify being a mom to Zane–I mean somebody has to take care of him. Either I do it and don’t get paid, or someone else does it and we pay that person.  My work may look different than your work, but it’s still work.  And for me, a necessary part of my play time has to be outdoors.  I have to spend some time in nature or else my spirt feels like it’s suffocating. That’s one of the reason’s why I’m really looking forward to moving to the ranch in hopefully a month or two.  I won’t have to run away so far, I’ll just have to take a step outside the house.


Author: Jessica Adriance Cowan

I'm a wife, mama of a daughter and son, a lover of writing, and budding herbalist.

4 thoughts on “Reflections on the Need to Play

  1. Very good Jessica! I had my once a month get away with my Children…Mike took over. Other wise I would have gone insane. Soon Zane and Zoey will be playing together. Your Aunt is an extrovert and still needs time alone in fact alot! Good blog.

  2. That is the thing about little kids- you have very little time when you are wondering what should I do with my time- they monopolize it all! I just ask for 15 minutes of peace during a shower each day and to be honest most of the time I do not get even that! They come into the bathroom crying about something. I say go ask Daddy! My time to myself- is my five min in the morning and night I take Klaus out potty. It is peaceful- no toddlers.

    • If you ever get a chance, read “Surprised by Motherhood” by Lisa-Jo Baker. What you wrote made me think of her book. Stephen and I both used to escape to the bathroom for alone time, but now that’s no longer possible because Zoey will just open the door and come on in. Yes you do indeed need a holiday to yourself.

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