Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The curse of the un-fun parent

Last night while giving my older two kids their baths, my son started kicking and splashing water everywhere. I, of course, flipped out on him, as splashing and making a mess everywhere is not allowed! I permit a very controlled "splash" at the end of bath, as the water is draining, with the curtain closed. They know the rules. And there are a lot of them. Because I am not very fun.

As my voice escalated and my head snapped around in my typical disciplinary fashion, my 4-year old son asked, despondently, "Can we play with Daddy when he gets home?" (Daddy is, in fact, quite fun. He is the anti-mommy in our household.)

Lately, as I am adjusting to life with 3 kids (my youngest is 6 weeks old), I am realizing more and more just how little fun I have with my kids. My days are spent doing laundry, washing dishes, feeding baby, cooking for the rest of us, cleaning, doing more laundry... feeding baby again... etc. And my brain is consumed with: Did they all take their vitamins? Which day am I signed up to bring snack to school? Did I send in the check to register our son for soccer? When is their next pediatrician appointment? Did I remember to make the pediatrician appointment? And the dentist appointment? And the eye doctor appointment? Did we do enough academic activities today? Is anyone developmentally behind on anything? Is everyone hitting their milestones? Did I put lotion on our daughter's rash? When did he/she poop last? Did he/she have enough fruit? Too much cheese? Do I have anything for dinner?... etc...etc...

And all day long, the words out of my mouth are one of the following two phrases:
1. "No! Stop doing that."
2. "In a minute. I will get it for you / be right there after I ______ (fill in blank)."

I fear that my kids hear "no" and "wait a minute" from Mommy ALL DAY LONG.

This is why, when I asked my son to put his socks and shoes on the other day (and we were obviously running late for something) and he instead made sock puppets, I was angry rather than amused. And he was sad. He had been excited to show me something funny and clever and I snapped at him rather than laughed with him.

The look on my son's face in bath last night almost brought me to tears. Why can't I be more fun like Daddy? Because too often "fun" for my kids = more work for Mommy. Who cleans up the water all over the bathroom after the splashing? Mommy. And Mommy is already so busy and her head is so full of serious stuff that there does not seem to be room or time for a whole lot of fun.

Well with my husband's 3 week long work trip looming in the near future, I am reflecting on the life I am providing for my kids. I am vowing to myself and to them to be more fun. They deserve laughter and giggles and the right to make messes and with Daddy gone, Mommy needs to buck up and allow a little splashing now and then. Even if it makes more work. Someday far too soon they won't be here all day to make sock puppets and play pirate ship in the bathtub.

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