I promise not to turn this into a woeful “bad mom” post. But tonight it’s clear as rain that my husband wins. And not just on popularity, though the kids often times show him preference; he’s a fun guy. That’s why I married him. Which is kind of the point.
Husband can make anything fun. Tonight it was vacuuming. He not only got all the dog hair off the floor, but somehow implemented the use of a large beach ball while he was doing it. As I went upstairs, and he was in the midst of vacuuming said stairs, he was playing some sort of game that was suctioning H at the top of the stairs, making him shriek with glee.
I would’ve just swept the floor and repeated myself umpteen times to the kids, “just give me a second! We’ll play when I’m finished!” Task, then play, seems to be my mode of functioning.
Last night, similar story. They went outside to retrieve something from the van and suddenly a puddle jumping competition brewed. Not being one for wet feet myself, it never would’ve crossed my mind. But H was splish-splashing his way across the driveway. Thoughtful husband even thought to have him roll up his pants.
And bedtime. OH, bedtime. My kids rarely fight the night-night, but getting jammies on can sometimes be a difficult task. H has lately taken to a nightly round of leap-off-the-bed-into-the-bedspread-and-blankets. There’s lots of running around with nudie-buns. I tend to get quite frustrated when I ask H to lay down so we can get dressed for the night; husband regularly has them laughing so hard they’re near tears because there’s fun tackling and tickling involved (again, I hate to be tickled, so I wouldn’t invoke this on anyone).
Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t a him-vs.-me competition. I make a much better Creamy Chicken Lasagna. I make sure their clothes match. We read stories and sing songs and discuss the pricing strategies of generic vs. name brand groceries. We each have our strengths.
But husband doesn’t have the utilitarian-focused mind; it’s not about getting the job done efficiently, it’s about getting it done with as much joy and laughter (and fewest tears) as possible. It’s not this, and then that – it’s fun while we live. And really, I’m beyond ecstatic that I have him around to teach our children this philosophy. There’s a time and place for efficiency, but life isn’t about completing the task but enjoying the presence of one another while we do it. Why take 4 years to complete a college degree if you’re not going to love your career? Why spend the afternoon cooking an 8-course meal if you’re not going to sit and enjoy it with friends? Why read a 400 page novel if you can’t discuss it at book club?
Parenting can be about making sure your kids are well-fed and well-loved; it’s about the practicalities of the day-to-day. But it’s also about what we’re teaching our kids as we go through the days. It can include showing them that in circumstances and in all tasks we can find joy, especially when we share that with one another.