I'm Not The Fun Parent — I'm The One Holding Things Together
Motherhood is both an amazing and a really eye-opening experience. When we first give birth to a new baby, we have these really incredible and often times really high expectations of ourselves, but then the whole experience humbles us really quickly. Motherhood breaks you down, strips you all of those expectations and reveals the person that you really are. For me, that's the no-fun parent, who you’ll find in the background, holding everything together for her family everyday. In fact, you could probably just refer to me as “the glue” and it would basically be interchangeable for all the many hats I wear on a daily basis.
Yes, I’m that sticky glue that pulls together all the odds and ends that makeup our life so that our son always gets to school on time, everyone eats balanced meals and has an extracurricular activity. My middle name should have been Elmer.
I sometimes think back to the person that I was in high school and college, though — you know, before kids. I was a partier, always the fun one who was ready for every new experience and never once worried about what I was making nutritious for dinner that evening. My only concern was making it to class on time and being sure that I never, ever, repeated an outfit. Of course, I didn’t have anyone else so consider back then, but I always made sure that I had a good time no matter what.
Fast forward to my life now and sometimes I don’t always recognize myself. It takes a lot for me to really let my guard down so that I can fully relax and enjoy the moment. There’s always something on my mind, something that needs done because of the kids and the home and the bills and quite frankly, it’s exhausting. I’m probably not very fun because I’m always tired, TBH.
I love knowing that I have all (most) of the answers, know where everything is hiding and what’s for dinner every night.
Then in walks my husband. He can let loose at any given moment and is totally the one my kids wait by the door for after work. He’s their hero. And as much as I love that (and heck, I look forward for him to come home, too), I want to have some fun here and there without letting life hold me back all the time. I do wish that I could let my guard down as easily as him, forget about any care in the world and just be. Maybe he should teach a class, because I know an awful lot of mom friends who feel the same as me.
I think that every family needs that one parent who has it all under control no matter what. This is how things are balanced in a household and a relationship. You sort of morph into these roles based on your partner's strengths and weaknesses, and own them because life and family needs you to. I’ve accepted my role as the house manager with pride. I love knowing that I have all (most) of the answers, know where everything is hiding and what’s for dinner every night. I like knowing exactly when each bill is paid and whose turn it is to wash the dishes — in a really odd way, these silly things fulfill me.
And of course, who would do it if it weren’t for me?
Don’t get me wrong, my husband is perfectly capable and if for some reason, goodness forbid, something happened to me, he would certainly figure out when the kids needed their next check-up, to make sure our son takes his allergy medicine every morning and what type of Little Bites he most certainly won’t eat and not to waste our money on them (because they will sit in the kitchen forever and ever). He can do all of these things, but for now, I’m here doing all these things.
Sometimes I worry that I might resent him for getting to take on this role. I want my kids to look back and remember that I was there, too, and that that I’m capable of cracking a smile and getting up and doing the silly bear dance at the zoo. But I don’t. I’m oddly happy in the role of being “the glue.” I like knowing that while my kids and I can count on my husband for spontaneity and endless giggles, that they can always count on consistency from me. It’s all about balance.
So the next time we’re traveling and my emotions get the best of me as my husband veers us off course to try something new and exciting, I’m going to do my best to take a deep breath and remember that I’m the one who planned that damn vacation. If I didn’t take the time to do the research, find the best rates, organize transportation from the airport to the hotel and make sure everyone had their bathing suits packed, then we would still be sitting on the couch inside our New York City apartment, yearning for a little adventure.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.