Not the Fun Parent


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.

Can you guess which one of us is the anchor and which is the wings?

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.

Other images via here, here and here.

5 comments on “Not the Fun Parent”

  1. Hi. This post nearly brought me to tears. I just recently subscribed and this is the first post I’ve read via email. I am so happy to have subscribed because just the thought, the reinforcement of someone striving for balance, someone aware of losing joy, aware of the work of motherhood, of the benefit of a husband very different from ourselves. You make me feel normal, and you remind me of the importance of sense of self. It’s hard in ‘real life’ let alone in the midst of primary parenthood. Choosing to live purposefully, seeking “to approach my days less out of habit and with more intention”….. you are a breath of fresh air that I really needed. You beckon me back to a time pre-baby, pre-husband, when I was intune with my soul in the fresh air of youth. You reinforce to me that it is still possible and that my child and my marriage will probably benefit from it. Thanks! 🙂

  2. I can definitely relate to this. In general, I am just grateful that one of us can be the funny, playful parent, even if it’s not me. I excel at the caretaking type of stuff, keeping life organized and keeping track of activities and schedules. Sometimes, though, I feel guilty because I am not very good at “playing” and staying focused on a kid-oriented activity for very long. I think it comes down to knowing you are, what you’re good at, and accepting it, yet sometimes pushing yourself to do stuff that doesn’t come as easily. Or at least that’s what I am trying to do.

  3. Wonderful piece Christa. I especially love your conclusion because knowing you so well, I know it IS true. Some of your most abundent and wonderful qualities are your ability to listen, to support, to give attention, to love and to offer compassion. Nora is a lucky little girl to have you as her mom and Ryan as her dad. She’s getting the best of so many things.

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