I’m Not The Fun Parent

I so badly want to be a more relaxed parent. One who can leave dishes in the sink and run around in the backyard after dinner. Unfortunately, as a recovering perfectionist and new mother of two, the kitchen is the only thing I can control in my life. So I NEED to have those dishes done or I’ll twitch.

I feed, clothe, bathe, care for, nurture, love, and live for my children. I’ve given them my body and soul. Do I have to freaking entertain them too?

You know those people who are self-professed 'Big Kids'? Nope. Not me. Born a grown up, I hate playing puzzles and board games. I would rather sit through a Catholic mass than go to the playground.

My husband seems effortless in his play and banter with our oldest. They laugh together at Minions. He teaches her how to pay for things at the store. Me? I’m always in a rush.

I'm No Fun

It's bad to rush kids, I know that, but sometimes I race toward 'bedtime' like a hurdler. There is no stopping to smell the roses now that I have a second child. Teeth-brushed, jump. Jammies on, jump. Story-read, jump. Then I jump onto my couch with Netflix before the baby wakes for her next feed. On a good day, I get to drink my coffee before it goes cold and collapse on the couch before 9:00PM.

Do other Mothers feel the same or am I a stick in the mud? Maybe it’s that invisible mental load presenting itself? You know the one. The absence of which allows the 'other parent' to breeze past a dirty towel on the floor without grabbing it and throwing on a load of laundry? That.

Got Shit Ta Do

My daughter helps me cook, fold laundry, and sometimes 'works' next to me on her wooden laptop.  Quality time + getting jobs done= multitasking. That's all parenting is, really. I like to think I’m teaching her life skills, the same one's millennials claim to lack. My four-year-old won't need to call me to ask how to boil an egg. Just sayin'.

I so badly want to be a more relaxed parent. One who can leave dishes in the sink and run around in the backyard after dinner. Unfortunately, as a recovering perfectionist and new mother of two, the kitchen is the only thing I can control in my life. So I NEED to have those dishes done or I’ll twitch.

Not only do I sweat the dishes but I over-think almost every conversation I have with my daughter. Am I building her confidence or over-praising? Am I showing trustworthiness? Do I sound too cranky? How much should I set aside for her therapy?

In my own most recent therapy session, we concluded I take parenting way too seriously.

Last night while putting the girls to bed, Lavinia made me laugh out loud. Like, really laugh from my belly. Not the fake enthusiasm I’ve dispensed at appropriate times all day long. She’s a really funny kid who adores spreading joy. When the new baby grins at me, no matter how filthy my mood, I can’t help but smile from the inside out.

I Take Parenting Way Too Seriously

Isn't THAT what this is all about? Joy, not multi-tasking. Someday the girls won't demand my attention anymore, they won't even want it.

There is always something to do, and I suppose there always will be. I’m working to silence my anal-retentiveness (which I realize is a form of anxiety) to gain more of the good stuff. I don’t need to cook every single night, the phone needs to go away more often, we won’t implode if no one bathes for a day or two.

Rather than rushing through 'jobs', I'm thinking it's actually more productive to give my budding comedian an attentive audience. Maybe then I will have, and be, a lot more fun.

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11 comments on “I’m Not The Fun Parent”

  1. Dawn - I love your pieces. I especially related to this one as I also was not a fun mommy.
    John did all the game playing! I loved watching! Was good with reading bedtime stories!
    Love you all. Aunt Jo

  2. Oh yes. And the guilt I have had about trying to avoid the park! You can only be who you are - that's the best gift you can give your kids - be who you are, own who you are. My kids know I'm not a 'player', but they come to me for other stuff. Big stuff too. Cuddles, and talks, art, and food (sigh...always food). One 'player' in the house is enough I reckon. You're fulfilling all the other things. xx

    1. That sounds like the perfect division of duties. Dad does the playground unless I’m feeling exceptionally generous or claustrophobic. Feeding, always feeding- I hear that loud and clear. I thought it was just my Italian heritage. Gah! I love he idea of them coming to me with other things. Leave me out of the puzzles thank you very much!

  3. Ugh, board games! SO BORING! Always have been, always will be! Dawn, don’t beat yourself up! Are you chatting to them? Hugging them? Are they happy? Sounds like big ticks for all of those so I think you are doing a fine mumma job. We did just lots of ordinary stuff together. I think I was too tired to be ‘fun’. And they learnt to play by themselves and make their own fun. They’re grown up now and still seem to like me so I can’t have damaged them too much! And anyway, you do an authentic Halloween How fun is that?

    1. I couldn’t even stand board games when I was a kid myself! Whoever invented them...uuggghhh. I mean, I used to consider myself to be pretty fun. I can make a ‘game’ out of washing dishes and everyone wins. Halloween is pretty great, highly recommend it. Xoxo

  4. OMG I'm also a recovering perfectionist! It is SO hard and as you say, sometimes the only thing you have control over is your space and keeping things neat and tidy creates a quiet little zone in your brain where you can relax and bask...for a second! My baby is 8 weeks old so not too demanding in the play arena. I am looking forward to the crafty & creative stuff we can do together, but then there's the mess...

    1. Yes! You get it! Everyone tells me to leave the mess but I actually FEEL better when it’s clean. We live arts and crafts I think the key is on project at a time, do messy stuff outside and for the love of God, but washable paints and markers!

  5. It seems that with motherhood comes a constant questioning of how to be the best version of a parent that we can be, that in itself is exhausting! I used to want to be like the other Mums in mothers group whose houses all seemed spotless, but actually my house wasn’t like that before so why would it be with the addition of a baby ! I guess what I’m saying is that maybe you are actually perfect just as you are, and being you is such a gift to your girls. Take care lovely. xxx

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Dawn Rieniets is both a visual artist and brand copywriter. She uses her MA in English, journalism and sales background to craft engaging brand identity copy for small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs) globally.

Dawn exhibits artwork independently and with groups; Thou Art Mum and Melbourne and Victorian Artists (MAVA). In her online store, you can find original pieces, wall art prints, and other home decor. A few times per year she accepted personalised and sentimental art commissions for clients.

Dawn creates out of her home studio in Wurundjeri country, the Northern Suburbs of Melbourne.
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