My partner sometimes complains that I’m not so fun (anymore).
Ten years into our relationship, I suppose he misses the playful 30-year-old he fell in love with.
While my first impulse is to reject that judgment, the reason that comment stings is because there is some truth there. Because somewhere in the last seven years of motherhood, some of that playfulness did disappear.
There is a hypervigilance that appears for us mothers where we need to always be attending to the needs of another being, for the basic survival needs of food, warmth, safety. This is a naturally wired tendency for mothers to be on alert, to be thinking a number of steps ahead. We become more protective, and it’s rare that we let down our guard.
Playfulness comes with a certain element of letting go. And letting go is absolutely an essential part of an embodied woman. I’m not talking about the kind of playfulness that focuses on the play of a sweet toddler or child, but the one were she can let go of that role that focuses on another, and enjoy the sweet present moment.
It might look like a moment of wild abandon in lovemaking, or dancing alone on the beach, or playing in nature, or…any number of things. The essential ingredients are joy without worry, spontaneity, pleasure, and laughter. All good food for the soul.
A woman’s identity shifts significantly through motherhood, and it can be tricky for her to remember who she is beyond the responsibility of loving attentiveness for others.
How can her partner encourage her to relinquish this role for a while so they can play?
Speaking from experience, I love the opportunity to go and play in nature for a half day with my partner with the aid of some fun medicinals. But it’s super helpful for me if I don’t have to think about a looming responsibility or having too tight a time frame.
For women, let your partner know what you need to be able to access the “let go.” For men, encourage her toward this—and help encourage some time and spaciousness for the unwinding to occur.
Most of all, don’t blame her for not being playful enough; entice her, whether through silliness or adventure.