You know those questions you ask sometimes that you really DON'T want to know the answer to. You just ask because you are having a conversation and you think you know the answer but you aren't prepared for how much its going to hurt to hear the answer.
Those questions are bad questions. Don't ask them.
Because one day the answer is going to destroy everything you thought you knew.
This is about the day my daughter told me I wasn't fun.
If you know me in real life, you know I am a lot of fun. I am all about fun. Its like my reason for being on this planet. If I am not making you laugh then I am not enjoying myself. I am not being myself.
But to my first born, the one that made me a mommy, I am not fun.
We were laying in her bedroom talking as I was trying to get her to fall asleep. Coming back from winter break is hard and as a parent that practices in the art of lazy parenting during break, its extremely hard for our family to recover. It was about 10PM at night. I know, I cringe that I just confessed that to you and can feel your judgments already but let's be real. It was 10PM on a school night when she destroyed my mental mom the of year award.
Sometimes we play different games like I tell her a crazy made up story about sisters who can poop magic and make people disappear, like off the wall weird stories and she loves it. Sometime we lay in bed asking questions about life, the future, when she was little, etc.
So one night I asked "What can mommy be doing better?"
I tell my kids all the time that I have NO idea what I am doing. Even more shocking then realizing there was no Santa Clause was my realization as a young teen that the adults in my life had no clue what they were doing. I thought they had it all figured out and one day when I turned 18 I would instantly know all the secrets of the world and everything would make sense and I would just know how to handle life. But now I am 38 and that day still hasn't happened.
So I am really honest with both kids and I tell them I don't know what I am doing and I am just doing what I think is right and best.
Her response hit me and I felt tears swell into my eyes and I immediately regretted asking her.
"You're not very fun." She said.
I wanted to lash out, FUN! FUN! That is what I could be doing better?
I was voted wittiest in high school. Co-workers tell me I am their comic relief. My husband married me 97% because I was fun. The other 3% just had to do with the fact that I was single.
I couldn't believe it.
I got myself together and took a deep breath. "Okay, Can you explain that better for mom?"
"Sure," she said so proud that she has just admitted something to me that has probably been on her mind for a while which again made me want to burst into tears.
"Like, you never just play with me. You don't play legos or Barbies or just ask me if I want to play something with you."
WOW. She is right. I am not fun. Not to a 6 year old. My 6 year old self would be so ashamed that I live in a house with all these toys and I never touch them except to pick them up off the floor, silently curse under my breath then place them onto a shelf.
So.I am playing in my head what my response to her will be. Here is what I wanted to say:
"Do you know what I do around here? I am in charge of groceries and cooking and cleaning and laundry and I am the logistics and transportation specialist. I make sure you are clean and fed and clothed and you have a jacket on for the 20 seconds you are outside. I wash your sheets and clean your bathroom including dried toothpaste on the mirror. I make dinner then make another dinner for your sister that refuses to eat. I work a full time job. I take care of the pets and make sure they have food and water and schedule their haircuts and schedule your haircut and forget about when I need a hair cut. I step on those legos you speak of then shout out in pain and pick them up because no one else is going to. I fold towels and hang up backpacks and check homework and notes from teachers and keep the message board up to date about when I need to send cupcakes and what days I have to travel for work and if I have time I try to shower and brush my own teeth.
So tell me, who has time for FUN?
But I didn't say that. I didn't say any of it.
I am not a martyr and I never want to be seen as one. This parenting gig is the most important aspect of my entire being and I love it. I love it so much.
But most of the time I find myself feeling behind and never able to catch up. I can spend an entire Saturday cleaning out bedrooms only to see them destroyed and unorganized again in 3 days. I am tired. And sitting on the couch next to my husband in the evenings zoning out to mindless TV, that is my hallelujah moment. That is what gets me through a lot of days.
While some people go to their inner happy place of beaches and mountain cabins, I go to my couch, next to my husband, zoning out.
So here is what I said instead:
" I know. And I am sorry. I will do better."
I said this because it needed to be said. I was quickly reminded of the times I have been asked to play with her and my response is always, " I will in a minute."
And if I do sit down for 2 minutes to play I am never in the moment. I am in my head. I am thinking that I need to get up and change out the laundry. I am thinking that the counter looks gross and if I could just jump up for 20 seconds and wipe it off or that I haven' t gotten the mail today.
I am always somewhere else.
Then I get a sign, a small smack in the head to bring me back, like a picture of one of my daughters when she was 2 will fall out of a book and I will think, how is she so big now? When did this happen?
And I will try and remember what my life was like back then. And do you know what I remember?
I remember feeling worried that the carpets looked dirty.
I remember rushing to the store, baby in tow to grab more milk and how frustrating it was to plan that trip at a time when she wouldn't' be tired and irritable so I could get that small task complete.
I remember trying to clean the kitchen and hoping the teething ring would keep her happy so I could get some work done.
I don't remember playing. I don't remember fun. I remember tasks.
And that is what I will one day remember about the time when she was 7 or 10 or 12. The tasks, the chores, the lists in my head.
And one day she will shout "Bye mom, I am going out, be home later."
Instead of shouting, "Mom, come play legos with me."
And I will have a clean house because I have kids that don't play with legos anymore or Barbies or need a giant doll house that takes up half my wall in my living room.
So this is what I am going to do. I am going to play with my kids. I am not going to jump up to fold towels or sweep the kitchen. And its going to be really hard and its going to take me some time to get this right. And I am going to forgive myself for the times I am going to fail and I am going to try to push those tasks out of my mind and just play.
Just be 6 again. 6... when I was fun and other kids thought I was too.