When You’re Not the Fun Parent

My husband had to work late tonight unexpectedly, and it threw off our entire evening. Mine, because instead of tag-teaming the full sprint that is feeding, bathing, lotioning, teeth-brushing, hair-combing, nursing, story-reading and putting three little ones to bed, I was going it alone. And my kids, because they know at dinner time (earlier if we’re lucky), my husband walks in from parking his car in the garage, and the fun begins. The wrestling, and tackling, fort-building, and running, and jumping, and piggy-back rides, and wrestling, and whatever else involves energy I just can’t muster up by that time of day any longer…especially wrestling.

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We all know it…he’s the fun one.

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I try to be fun. I try to build forts, but he builds them better. I try to play football, but after a couple of tackles from my three year old, I’m calling halftime. He lets them sneak in extra screen time, and finds projects they can help with in the garage that involve painting and tools. He wakes up and can instantly match their boundless toddler energy levels, and I need a good half hour before my brain starts working.

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I mean, I can fly my kids up like airplanes on my feet, and throw a mean dance party, and build block towers, and ask for seconds of wooden play food pizza. Because mmm-mmmm! Melissa and Doug sure know how to make a good crust.

It’s just…someone has to put all of those pepperonis away at the end of the day. And make a real pizza for dinner that night after I’ve already fed everyone four times that day. And remember that tomorrow is purple day at preschool and pack lunches for Kids’ Day Out, and run to Target because we’re on our last few diapers. And be all things to everyone for 10-12 hours a day…alone.

This season is exactly where I’m meant to be – being needed this way. And when I really stop to think about it, it is fun. Monotonous, yes. The routine of filling sipping cups, and doing dishes, and preparing meals, and wiping the table, and sorting laundry, and sweeping crumbs, and tucking in for naptime, and laps around the neighborhood, and refereeing sibling arguments and kissing owies…it can feel exhausting and overwhelming and unappreciated and unimportant and certainly not fun at times. It is, though. It really is.

I tucked in my three, one by one and then settled into folding laundry and prepping for our day tomorrow, and realized everything my husband had missed being away at work that day, serving our family in another way.

Yes, there was monotony, responsibilities to tend to, potty accidents to clean up, and typical toddler fighting. But there was a lot of fun. We had a picnic lunch in the backyard and went for a walk in the afternoon while my oldest rode his new big boy bike with training wheels – despite it taking longer. The kids got to stop and throw sticks in the creek and pick flowers by the bridge. We played outside in the driveway until the sun started setting, and read books on my bed. We rolled out PlayDough and yes, even built a fort.

There was fun in our day. It’s not as obvious, squeezed in between routine and moments of discipline and to-do’s, but it’s there.

My husband makes the most of his time with our kids because it’s limited. Fun is fast and furious when he’s around, and the kids can’t get enough.alisonmoorephotographywichitaphotographer1

But I have the luxury of finding it in more subtle ways with three little ones that happen to be experts in making the ordinary extraordinary.

And that’s pretty fun, too.

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