In our silly, happy little family of three, I’m not the fun parent.
I wish this didn’t always have to be the case. But…there it is.
It’s no secret that my husband is the funny, outgoing partner. He brings playfulness and levity to our relationship. He finds the humor in tough situations and makes the mundane enjoyable. He brings joy to my life, and it’s one of the things I love most about him.
While I proudly wear the badge of a working mom, my work is on a very part-time basis, with ebbs and flows of busy-ness throughout the year. This means, though, that on most days, I’m our daughter’s primary caretaker. I don’t negate my husband’s or my in-laws’ – who care for my daughter one day a week – contribution to her care; it really does take a village. But to look at the week as a whole I, as mom, spend the most one-on-one time with our daughter.
It’s the daily grind that I feel hinders me from being more playful. Discipline, tantrums, meals, schedules, errands, negotiating nap times…most days I’m left exhausted from the give and take of motherhood.
As we all know, being a stay-at-home mom (even a quasi-stay-at-home mom like me) is work. And just like my out-of-the-home working mom counterparts, I’d be lost without a schedule keeping me on task and organized. Don’t get me wrong, our days aren’t all trudge and grudge. My daughter and I share plenty of moments each day when I feel like we’re truly connecting, during trips to the playground, on long walks, throughout lots of nursing snuggles, and in the pages at story time before bed.
Yet it’s that schedule that I rely on for structure that also leaves me feeling boxed in…and, well, decidedly un-fun.
More often than not, the tired creeps in, and I revert back to going through the motions, completing one task just to get to the next. Even during her play, in the midst of a good time, I find myself checking the clock too often to make sure the window for the next activity doesn’t pass us by.
Yes, my job as quasi-stay-at-home mom is work, and will oftentimes simply feel like work, but I don’t want to lose the joy in my days. Not when I know she won’t be this little forever, and that I’ll never have this moment in time with her again. I’m certain that being well-organized and responsible doesn’t have to exclude me from actually enjoying the work of motherhood. Perhaps what I’m really seeking is to approach my days less out of habit and with more intention.
I’ve spent a lot of energy thinking I needed to come up with a way to be more like my husband, who in his very fun way shares himself with our daughter through wrestling matches on the carpet, games of hide and seek tag, and Sunday morning breakfast with cartoons. But maybe “fun mom” isn’t even what she needs from me. Maybe I’m her calm from the crazy, the ear to listen, the supportive hug when words aren’t enough.
It seems that what I need to do is to strive, in parenthood, for the same balance that makes our marriage work. Maybe I’m a tad bit more our daughter’s anchor while her dad lends the wings that make her heart soar.
I may not need to be the “fun one,” but I can choose to live purposefully, with intent, and actively offer our daughter attentiveness, stability and love…now that feels very me.