It’s all fun and games when Dad is around, but I’m coming to terms with my own role in the family.
I never really thought of myself as a boring person. I should clarify: I never really thought of myself as a boring person… until my oldest son straight-up told me I was. I give him life and he gives me this enormous insult. Ruthless — right?
But yeah, that happened. It didn’t matter to him that I had plenty of hobbies and interests. He gave zero effs that I had a career I loved, a pretty decent social life, a couple of rescue pets, or a partner. He told me I was a boring lady, and went ahead and topped it off by saying this, and I quote: “You’re nowhere near as fun as Daddy is!”
Well, then… there it was. This tiny dictator didn’t even know how to wipe his own bum, but was comfortable with swiftly casting me into the perma-role of the “un-fun” parent. Mmkay.
Ego now thoroughly bruised, this bold declaration made me stop what I was doing (which at that point was probably washing his newborn brother’s soiled onesies and/or praying their naps synced up that afternoon) and think. When I did, I saw that my spawn had a point.
While I share many responsibilities with his dad, much of the general caretaking / laundry-and-dish-doing / appointment-keeping / maintenance work falls to me. Call it motherhood. Call it gender roles. Call it the fact that I’m a highly anxious person who’s a bit of a control freak. Whatever the reason, it’s dad who gets to be the designated “Good Time Guy.”
At first, that bothered me. A LOT. It’s certainly not how I imagined things when I was pregnant! As a mom-to-be, I pictured as many joyful playground trips, zoo outings, and Lego-building competitions as the next parent. Oh, the places we’d go!
The only problem was I hadn’t left any room in my daydreams for the routine tasks that come along with parenthood. And guys, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you, there are loads of ‘em, from groceries and laundry to chauffeuring, boo-boo kissing, and everything in between.
I’m not saying we don’t do the fun things I envisioned in those precious prenatal days. I’m just saying it’s not all roses all the time, and I’m not talking about the dirty diapers here, people. The un-fun stuff — the upkeep, the work that keeps the ship sailing – that stuff takes precedence, and it always will. It ain’t stoppin’ anytime soon, so you come to accept that it gets in the way of time you want to be enjoying with your cherubs.
But you know what else it does? It makes the fun times that much sweeter, and it makes you find fun in simple, everyday places or routines. Don’t get me wrong — on the road to coming to terms with being the un-fun one, I definitely got a bit defensive.
How could I get a bad rap for not having a constant stream of exciting activities scheduled for my kids, amongst the myriad things that need doing to keep them around as living, functional little society members? Stuff needs doing, and the fun parent is a title their dad can have if he’s got the energy, time, and interest in doing so. I’m so glad he does! Because they deserve all the happiness one childhood can handle, and as cliche as the saying is, it truly takes a village.
As I’ve come to see it, it’s my job to keep on top of keeping my kids healthy and on track. They love dad’s video game tournaments and trips to the trampoline park. I don’t blame them! I love it when we do those things, too.
But someday (hopefully) they’ll also appreciate having a full set of teeth that haven’t rotted out, or having learned to swim. I’m their mom — not their in-home entertainment system. And the fun we do get to have (which is often and plenty, IMHO) is that much more memorable for all of us.
So there it is. If you’re anything like me, your kids don’t think you’re fun enough. I say go ahead and embrace your royal boredom, because you know what? You’re the glue.
Kate Brierley is a senior writer, freelancer, and resident boy mom of Henry and Ollie. A Rhode Island Press Association Editorial Award winner, she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s in library and information studies from the University of Rhode Island. She is a lover of rescue pets, family beach days, and handwritten notes.