I did not know how badly I needed Monday’s virtual Chairman Mom event on the virtues of being more childlike, hosted by Kt McBratney. 

There’s been a lot going on that’s far more urgent in my life than “play.” But as I reflected on the topic before joining, I found I had a ton of thoughts. The first was about how parenthood has changed my relationship with play. I play with my kids a lot, obviously. But when they aren’t around, somehow doing things for fun or for play or being silly seems like it’s not what I do without them. Like how I never want to eat Kraft Mac & Cheese or Goldfish crackers anymore. 

I found I’ve spent time justifying things that I was doing that were play. Eli got me into Just Dance. And, sure, he told me to practice when he was at his dad’s. But he didn’t really mean I needed to do an hour of Just Dance on my own. I told myself he did. But I just wanted to because it is fun

How could I not just give myself permission to have fun for an hour? 

This is a big reason I set a goal on the number of books I want to read for the year and keep a tally of it. Because if it’s on a to-do list, it takes on gravitas. Otherwise, I’d feel like I was doing something indulgent. 

Similarly, one woman on the call noted that she has to put “have fun” on her to-do list in order for her to do it. 

As usual, former academic Catherine Connors rode into the call with some research. It turns out girls get robbed of the freedom to play at about age six. We expect them to grow up, to be “good girls,” and to be mature, while boys are still allowed to play and be silly. Look how that plays out in the grown-up world. 

Male founders can have ping pong tables and wear hoodies. Female founders are expected to be operators and nannies. It’s Peter Pan and Wendy. 

Like everything else, play is gendered af. 

It may be pathetic, but we all agreed we need some accountability to make sure we are having fun, being playful, and doing all the good parts of being childlike. So we’ve started a thread on that today. Come share what you’ve done that’s fun without a purpose. Or come get inspired to come up with something. 

We are asking a lot of ourselves now. We are homeschooling while trying to work. We are in our fourth month of lock down trying to keep our families and communities safe. And many of us are doing the hard work of examining our relationship with white supremacy in response to what’s happening in our country. We deserve a bit of play to offset all of this work. (Incredibly, I still feel guilty and am cringing even writing that sentence. Do I really deserve that? I bet some of you feel the same…)

Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:

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