As a child growing up with two heterosexual parents, there are certain things your mom does and certain things your dad does. Whether it be taking out the garbage or doing the laundry, going sleigh riding or to the library, doing the grocery shopping or the cooking, more often than not, one parent or the other takes on these roles. Then these roles sort of become the norm simply because that’s what you saw and were taught, intentional or not. Akin to this are the experiences each of us have or don’t have that also inform how we live our lives.
In no way is this post a diss on how I was brought up, quite the contrary. I have wonderful parents and had a safe and beautiful upbringing. As you’ll see, many of the roles I enjoy most are because of my parents. This is merely a commentary on what occurs when you question the roles you learned and take on new experiences, either alone or together.
Here are a few of my favorite “roles” and experiences in parenthood thus far:
Grocery Store-I absolutely LOVE going to the grocery store. As a child, I also liked going. It was a trip I shared with my mom. In our family, all four of us go (most times). The family trip to the grocery store is hysterical to me. My husband and I split the list and at this point have certain things each of us take ownership over. Meanwhile, the kids sit in one of those gigantic car carts talking about nonsense the entire time. Plus, we all pick up extra treats here and there. It’s a part of the weekend that I have grown to love, our weird little family quality time.
Sledding-I remember the first time my husband and I discussed going sledding with our son. He assumed I’d be attending. I assumed I wouldn’t. Growing up, sledding was an activity my dad did with us, so I just sort of always saw that as a dad activity. But as my husband and I were talking about it, I didn’t want to miss out, so I went with it and LOVED it. Why wouldn’t I? I always liked sledding as a kid and actually, oddly, I’m in better shape now so walking up the hill isn’t nearly such a pain in the ass as I remember it from when I was a kid. Sledding is one of those events that is pure joy. My 4 1/2 year old exudes excitement and makes the entire experience simply wonderful.
Play Fighting-My son loves play fighting, whether that be fighting with fake swords, guns, hiya kicks, etc. I never really saw myself engaging in this type of play with him, for a variety of reasons. First, I always classified this as boy’s play, and even though I challenge the thought of there being certain games for boys and certain games for girls, it was still a game I never pictured myself playing. I also questioned my participation because I struggle with play fighting, questioning how and if it perpetuates physical aggression. But, when it became apparent that this type of play wasn’t going away anytime soon, I joined in. And you know what, I LOVED it. There’s a lot of movement involved and imagination. Inevitably, I find myself hysterically laughing as I run around the house and fake battle scenes. I’ve also been able to use the experience as an opportunity to discuss the importance of “play” and how that is very different that true physical violence. We have also discussed my son’s strength in relation to his sister and how important it is for him to be in control of his actions always, but in particular as it relates to this type of play.
So, this is a long way of saying that parenting continues to challenge me in ways I never thought possible, truly. As my children continue to grow and develop I am curious to see what new roles I will be challenged to take on and which I will love. Here’s to trying new things and getting the most out of life that you can!