Confessions of an Unfun Parent
Please don’t think that at the end of this post I’m actually going to say “hey, maybe I AM a fun parent”, because I’m not. I’m not declaring that being the fun parent or the unfun parent is better; we are who we are, and we all do our best for our kids.
I realized right away, as in a freshly birthed baby right away, that Troy was going to be the sensitive and fun parent. We have a photo somewhere that my mother-in-law took a few hours after Jack was born. Troy is off on the side tearing up because Jack is crying during his first ever bath. I’m sitting in bed texting.
In my defense, my crotch hurt a little too much to get out of bed, and I was replaying the whole birth with a friend who were excited by Jack’s arrival!
Me: He’s here!
Anne: yay! My godson! I’m so excited! Stats?
Me: 8 pounds, 4 oz. 19 inches long. Head – 99th percentile.
Anne: How are you?
Me: my Britney.hurts.so.much
Anne: yep, expected
Me: Send help. And stool softeners
It quickly snowballed from there, with Troy always being the one to hover over Jack with concern. I was too wiped out from being a milk machine and having a suckling beast attached to me 24 hours a day. Oh, and I was depressed from not eating dairy and wheat because of said suckling leeches’ allergies.
As Jack grew up, “Poppy” and the lad became the best of friends. They created an event called “Boy Day” where they’d stay home together (if Troy happened to have an day off) while I was at work or running errands. I’d come home to two boys who hadn’t showered, brushed teeth, or probably washed hands all day. The entire apartment (now house) would be a giant fort, and I’d inevitably be walking in to an ambush where a naked Jack was hiding behind something, at the ready to launch himself at me. All while yelling “no don’t come home yet mommy”.
I’m kind of a buzz kill like that I guess.
Troy always tells me not to take it personally, and I don’t. I remind Troy “this is the boy who spent 10 minutes in the car the other week yelling at clouds”. Seriously though, I don’t take it personally. I know that I’m not the fun parent. I know that when Jack thinks “I get to spend a day at home with mommy”, he’s really thinking “man, I wish it were Poppy”.
Why don’t I take it personally? Because I understand my place in this family, and where I belong in my little boy’s life. Troy is gone so much that seeing him is something new and fun for Jack. Troy coming home is like a carnival. Knowing that I have to parent, bath, discipline, and guide Jack each and every day means that I have less opportunity to make life a party.
Don’t get me wrong, Jack and I do have good times. We have dance parties in the living room, I will occasionally sleep in his room for a “sleep party”, we race in the shopping cart in the parking lot, and let’s not forget our popcorn dinners – popcorn and a movie for dinner!
I may not be the flashy parent, but I’ve realized in small ways that Jack acknowledges how I take care of him in my own way. Last year, Troy took Jack jogging in the stroller. They stopped at the beach to play. Jack asked Troy for a snack, and Troy informed him that he didn’t have one. Jack looked at him and said “Mommy would have packed one”. And during a summer thunder and lightening storm, the cries of “Mommy” were heard, and my snuggles and hugs were the only things that could calm a nervous little boy.
I’ve had this post in my head for awhile now, but had a hard time articulating what I was trying to say. Sunday at church, we had a guest pastor whose sermon really spoke to me. It was all about giving – time and talents. He noted that it’s hard living a life based on rules rather than a life based on grace. I’m a rule follower by nature (I went to the same school where my mom taught, and my dad used to work for juvenile detention. YOU tell me that doesn’t make you a rule follower!) and that statement really spoke to me.
I’m not a perfect parent, and I never will be. I do need to be more present and parent with more grace. I try. I really try every day.
However the pastor also said something else, “we leave behind what we give away”. I may not be the parent that Jack runs to for fun, but what I leave behind is a child who knows that when there is something scary, or something hurts, Mommy knows how to make it better. He knows that comfort and love can always be found in my arms.
Plus snacks of course. There are always, always, always snacks.
Here’s the thing… Being the unfun parent definitely pays off. My son, who is nine, has been having bad dreams. He told my husband, the fun parent, about it. But it wasn’t until he told me that he stopped having the dreams. When I asked him why he thought that was, he said “because you make me feel better. You always know what to say and it always makes sense.”. I’ll take that over being the fun parent any day! So, no worries ladies… The unfun parent role definitely has its perks!!!
Oh my gosh! I thought you were writing about me! I’m quite certain my now 20 month old daughter’s first word was snack (suh-nack) – she says it with great fervor. Still chewing on this one “We leave behind what we give away” beautiful!
I am also the “not fun” parent and my Husband is the fun parent. We have a similar dynamic as you do in our home. When Hubby is home, our little shines so bright for him she could just burst. Anything for her Daddy and they build forts, eat pasta and butter (with no veggies I scream in horror) and make shadow puppets on the wall…He gets his little one attention is bright bursts of happy.
I love your blog and read when I can. We live in a way very similar to your family – frugal yet not wanting. *smile* Although you have a gift with the way you can turn a phrase and make me laugh. Thanks for your time and hard work blogging.
I found your button on Sowdering About Seattle and the name intrigued me, so I just had to come take a look. You’re hilarious! I’ve been poking around and thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts . . .
I commend you for being okay with not being the “fun” parent–that’s a tough one. My husband and I make up a “mullet of parenting,” he’s the party in the back and I’m the business up front and it’s taken me some time to own it. BUT, now that I know that’s my role, it’s much easier.
I love this post. Over the last 3.5 years, Matt has worked two jobs and been a full time student. Working on his thesis left very little time for any of us and there were days, yes DAYS when we didn’t get so much as a glance at daddy. It was hard, and rough, especially when I was pregnant and struggling with my new role as a stay at home.
Even though Matt is equally as strict as I am, when it comes to fun stuff, Lucy always runs to him. I can totally relate.