One Mom's Perspective: The Fun Parent
You’ve just finished a long day at work, and you are mentally and physically exhausted. Your husband gets home before you, and is in charge of the children. As you walk in the door, you immediately notice all of the things he hasn’t done. Dinner isn’t started, the kids haven’t even begun their homework, and the dog hasn’t had his evening meal. Your husband is playing video games with your kids. They are laughing and having a fun time, but you can’t relax and enjoy the scene before you. You picture the ever-increasing list of the 4,362 things you must accomplish this week, and your eye begins to twitch. Doesn’t he know how much you have on your plate all the time? Okay, so maybe he is actually quite helpful with chores around the house and equally shares in the responsibilities of raising the children. But how can he relax and play with the kids when there are clearly so many things to be done?
That scenario is part of my daily life, more often than not. Maybe, like me, you wish you could be the fun parent but it just doesn’t come naturally to you. I’d love to be carefree and not be bothered by a pile of dishes, or be able to ignore the ticking clock counting down until the next extracurricular activity. It would be relaxing to be able to stop picturing all of the upcoming appointments on the busy family calendar, and wondering how everyone will get everywhere they need to be. But I am as likely to do that as I am to be drafted to a championship team in the WNBA (I’m 5’4” and accident-prone, just in case you were wondering what the odds were). I’m just not wired that way. I am a worrier. I am a planner. I am an organizer. I am a “do all the things”, all the time, kind of person.
My husband is not a lazy man; quite the opposite, in fact. He works six days a week, including weekends, and on his one day off he is in charge of our youngest child. He rarely has a moment to himself, yet he never complains. He can, and often does act like a big kid. His boisterous laugh and friendly demeanor make him beloved by children and adults of all ages. People gravitate to him, and want to spend time with him. His ability to be in the moment and have fun is one of the things that I most love about him.
My kids will have homework on school nights for years to come. There will always be dirty dishes. Sure, the dog needs fed, but that only takes me a moment. So why do I get so frustrated when I see my husband goofing off with my kids? Am I jealous? Maybe I am, just a little bit. If I am envious of them, it’s mainly because I wish it was easier for me to relax and let go. To live in the moment. To cherish the fun times and worry about the chores and the busywork of life later.
Instead of begrudging my husband and children their fun, I should be celebrating the balance we have. I should embrace my husband’s ability to be the fun parent, because those silly moments are just as important in my children’s life as are the moments of hard work and busyness. Maybe, just maybe, the light-hearted and fun times are the times worth the most important place on the daily family calendar. After all, who looks back on their life and wishes they spent more time doing chores? I may not always be able to slow down and enjoy the small things, but I plan to try harder to do just that, even just occasionally. Or at the very least, I will try to control my eye-twitching and let them continue on with their fun while I do housework. Will you join me?