Mercilessly, I jab the broom underneath the kitchen cabinet, into that no-man’s territory of corners and cobwebs, as I listen to the delighted shrieks of my three children wrestling with their dad in the living room.
Sighing a little to myself, I contemplate joining them for a minute, the refrains of they’re only little once and enjoy every moment echoing in my head like a bad-parent mantra.
But then, as my eyes sweep over the piled-up dirty dishes, the scattered crumbs under my son’s highchair just calling for the ants to partake in an after-dinner feast, I resolutely (and internally) shake my head.
Because the truth is, I know that if I set foot in that living room, the spell would be broken.
Because I’m not a fun mom.
And I’m OK with that.
When I first became a mother, I imagined tickle fights galore and afternoons spent building forts in the living room while I led the kids in gallivanting games of make-believe. I loved reading blogs and articles about mothers who spent those precious early childhood years building castle after castle in the sand and drinking endless cups of imaginary tea with their kids.
You know — the magical stuff of childhood.
Yes, I could surely handle that, I thought. That all sounds fun!
In reality, in the past six years of mothering young children, I have built approximately one blanket fort with my kids. And it promptly fell apart after I helped them to build it in a frenzied burst of excitement and they displayed exactly zero interest whatsoever in it.
I have racked my brain for fun activities and whipped up inspiring Pinterest boards filled with 10 Easy + Fun Activities For Kids!
I’ve led imaginary adventures around the living room and initiated pillow fights, but in the end…
Most of my efforts have fizzled.
I can almost cringe with embarrassment writing this, picturing the half-hearted attempts my children will indulge me in as I try my hardest to be “fun.”
The truth is, my kids are just plain better at making their own fun than I am at trying to create it for them. They have way more fun on the one day a week I send them to the babysitter’s, where they indulge in refined pastimes such as jumping on bubble wrap in the garage. (See what I mean? Why can’t I think of that?) And no one — and I mean no one — can produce the kind of gut-wrenching, tear-rolling laughter — that my husband can when he plays with them.
So what’s wrong with me?
I definitely have done my time in the mommy vault of guilt wondering why I suck at playing with my kids, but for right now, I’m just feeling a little burnt out by it all. Working, cooking, cleaning, shopping — and then throw in the pressure to be my children’s 24/7 entertainment director and I start to feel more limp than my kitchen mop.
So I’ve started to think, that maybe there is nothing wrong with me. And that maybe instead of trying so hard to be the “fun mom,” I should focus on the things I am good at, like the snuggling and reading bit. Or the breastfeeding-for-an-entire-3-years bit. (Not one child, mind you, but all three. Separately.) Or, heck, maybe even the setting-a-good-example-by-chasing-my-dreams bit.
I like to think that by accepting my strengths as a mother along with the stark reality that I’m just not the world’s most fun mom, I can actually, in a way, become a better mother.
Because perhaps if I’m not so stressed out all of the time trying to follow 10 Easy Steps To Being The Most Fun Mom You Can Possibly Be I might just relax and enjoy my kids a little bit more.
And who knows?
Maybe I’ll just have some fun in the process.