Opting Out of Dirty Playground Dates

Am I a bad mother?

A few weeks ago, I was scheduled to take my daughter to a get-together at the local park.  I was feeling tortured. I know she deserves to go outside to play. But I have so many errands that need to get done – Target, this weeks (and last) groceries, the holiday gifts that need to be purchased. So much to do. And with a toddler, so very little time before nap. So I make the most logical decision. I opt out of the gathering.

While these are all good (and true) reasons to opt against the playgroup, are they the real ones?

The truth be told, I flaked because I can’t STAND the thought of slathering my freshly-bathed toddler with sunscreen in the morning and cleaning every crevice of her body from sand and dirt. Of me sweating on a playground and the gritty feeling of sand stuck against my feet and sandals. I find myself wondering when (okay, hoping) she will fall apart from exhaustion and I will need to sweep her into the car to go home.

But she should experience all these activities, right? Am I depriving her from fun outdoor mornings at the playground because of my idiosyncrasies?

And then I think to myself, The kid is only 2! Call me a bad mother, but why subject myself to this torture when I can choose not to? Right now, she won’t know the difference. There will be plenty of days in the future when she will know exactly what she’s missing and resent me for it.

I know some moms (and dads) out there don’t care if their kid is covered in dirt each day; that their kid permanently smells of Coppertone; that they bath the kid nightly to rinse off the stickiness of the day. And maybe they are better parents because of it.

In the meantime, we’ll opt for indoor play and errands.

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