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Confessions of an Unfun Parent

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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.

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15 comments on “Confessions of an Unfun Parent”

  1. A heartwarming way to start my morning, thank you for writing this! I can relate. My 19m old son is a total daddys boy and sometimes I feel kind of down about it. BUT if I wasnt around there wouldnt be clean laundry, dishes, healthy meals (because my husband thinks its ok to serve chips for dinner…just chips..)& bathtime 🙂 Im just not a “playtime”parent, but give us a project and my son,daughter, and I will have fun doing it together!

  2. I was joking with my hubby about this last night.. I know from babysitting experience that I will not be the ‘fun’ parent and that he will be.. and that’s ok by me..

    I told my husband that I’d be our upcoming newbie’s favorite for the first 2-5 years because I’m gonna be the one with a ready boob and/or snack, but after that, the child will be glued to papa until the teenage years when they won’t have much to do with either of us, lol. I guess that is how we’ll figure out our child spacing.. when this one gravitates to papa, we’ll try for our second..

  3. Very cute, heh. There’s always a best buddy to go play and have fun with, be mischievous and get away with stuff, but when things go down hard on them, they often seek the other parent.

  4. So, I stumbled across your blog and after spending some hours snooping, am in love with your blog (saying I’m in love with you would, understandably, be creepy). You’re the kind of funny that I imagine myself to be (though that’s evidently a “self” that exists solely in my own head) and I thoroughly enjoy reading!
    This post in particular struck a chord for me. I have an 8mo old, and Daddy is already the exciting one. While it bums me out that I can’t get the same kind of uncontrollable laughter out of him, I can already see the ways that I can give comfort that Daddy can’t. We all have our place, and I’m a snuggler by nature anyway 🙂

  5. Right now, my 9 month old son is definitely in his “mommy” phase. I’m enjoying it as much as I can because I know he’ll eventually drive in to the “daddy” phase and park there for years.
    I’m still unsure which one of us will be the fun parent, but I have a feeling it will be hubby. As it is with you, I will always provide the healthy food and snacks!

  6. Yeah I am also right there with you. Daddy is going to be the fun parent just because I am sure he is going to let the kids get away with murder while I try and keep the household together. We started to think about trying for our second and at the moment, our daughter(7 months) is stuck on me. I pray that by the time number 2 comes she will only want daddy.

  7. Great post, love it.

  8. i’m the unfun parent too. being a single mum that fact sometimes gets me down, thanks for the reminder about how important all our roles are!

  9. Thank you so much!
    I am so not the fun parent, Daddy is the fun parent.
    At times it does hurt (oh dear here come the tears) but you have made me realise that it is ok that I am the serious one.
    Like Jack, my boys come to me when they are hurt or scared. My heart melted a little the other week. I have been teaching my 4yo that you have control over your dreams. That is something scarey is happening in them then you can change your dream. Turn them into a butterfly or soemthing less scarey. Now our 4yo is a big Daddys boy so I was shocked/amazed/stunned/happy when he was telling Daddy about this and then turned to me and said Daddy doesn’t get it, you do don’t you mum and gave me a huge hug. Something he wouldn’t normally do with me.
    Anyways I’ll stop rambling. Just wanted to say thank you for helping me realise that it is ok.

  10. Beautiful. Thank you.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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!

  15. 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!!!