That Darn Play-Doh

Aubrey Sampson

At some point when I wasn’t paying attention, Play-Doh enlisted The Joker and James Bond to train my children how to play with it. They all worked together, compiling their maniacal-evil-genius and their handsome-devil-spy-intelligence, along with my household schematics, and systematically developed the best laid plans to completely take over my home.

Even under my plastic-matted watch, Play-Doh still manages to sneak its way into every crevice in my kitchen floor and onto my favorite furniture in OTHER ROOMS. Later, when I’m getting ready for bed, I’ll find a big dried clump of the stuff behind my ear.

I’m dealing with a new diagnosis of Rhuematoid disease, and one of the symptoms is hand pain. A few weeks ago, my hands were rebelling against me and I couldn’t open the little tubs of dough.

All of the sudden I loved Play-Doh more than life itself. All of the sudden Play-Doh became all the things.

It became my dreams for the future. Play-Doh became my writing and speaking career. It became my ability to be the mom who plays for hours with joy and creativity. Play-Doh became my ability to be an attractive wife and a loving friend. Play-Doh became me walking my sons down the aisle at their weddings. (I know, I know. This doesn’t usually happen. But at an early age, I began brainwashing my sons to believe that mom is the one who will release them to their future spouse.)

What if I can never play Play-Doh again?!!! I adore Play-Doh!

My 3-year-old eyeballed the tears rolling down my cheeks with suspicion and impatience. “Mom, are you happy? Are you going to be happy now? Are you done with tears now? Can we play Play-Doh now?”

No I am not happy right now. It’s okay for mommy to cry sometimes. It’s okay to be sad when we hurt because I NEED TO WALK YOU DOWN THE AISLE ONE DAY!!

I texted my husband: “I can’t open the Play-Doh. Am having a meltdown moment. Help.”

Kev came home to open the Play-Doh and to sit with me and to remind me that I hate Play-Doh so I should take advantage of this very valid excuse to watch The Aristocats for the ten thousandth time. And to tell me, tenderly, that I will play Play-Doh again soon. Pain ends. Also to say that our sons might need a lot of future Oedipal Therapy if I keep up all this walking them down the aisle talk.

This week if you aren’t quite done with your tears, if you’re a little sad over all the unopened things, if you’re dealing with pain, may you turn on that well-worn movie without any guilt, and rest, mom. You deserve it. (Plus, you need to save your energy if you’re going to clean up the Play-Doh that you’ll most certainly find in your silverware drawer tonight.)

Aubrey Sampson


Aubrey Sampson the mom of three crazy-hilarious sons, which is also to say that she spends most days in her pajamas drinking entirely too much coffee. On the days she manages to get dressed, Aubrey is an event and retreat speaker, a blogger, and the author of Overcomer: Breaking Down the Walls of Shame and Rebuilding Your Soul (Zondervan, 2015). She and her husband, Kevin, just planted their first church in the Chicagoland area. You can find and follow Aubrey at and @aubsamp.