No fun. That’s what they called me! No fun! Okay, so their exact words were, “Dad is the fun parent and Mom, well Mom is more like ‘The Safe Zone.’” A.K.A., no fun.
It’s true, Dad is the one doing the wrestling and the jumping on the trampoline. He’s the one splurging on hot fudge sundaes. He’s the one staying up late with them watching hilarious videos on Youtube from his iPad. Me? I’m either sick and pregnant, or nursing a fussy baby.
“But who takes you guys to the pool, the beach, the park, the museums? Me! That’s who,” I couldn’t help but point out. Yes, I may be the one to take them there, but on the rare occasions Fun Dad is available to join us, he’s the one jumping off the high dive with them, teaching them how to boogie board, inventing elaborate spin-off games of tag and hide-and-go-seek that send them into fits of shrieking giggles. Me? I’m either sick and pregnant or nursing a fussy baby.
Kids don’t award fun points for just packing the picnic and loading them up in the car and driving them to fun venues. You have to actually be fun.
What their tender ages don’t allow them to fully understand is that my “no fun-ness” makes their fun possible. Somebody has to carry them to term, feed them, rock them, sing them to sleep and get them to the fun part of their lives. Somebody has to take the delicate, crying bundle away from their exhilarating chaos so that the chaos can happily proceed uninterrupted.
My first reaction to this “Safe Zone” label was to quote to them a modified version of Jack Nicholson’s infamous speech from “A Few Good Men.” (We’ve all seen the TV version, right?)
“Kids, we live in a world that has babies. And those babies need to be nurtured, fed and protected. Whose gonna do that job? You? You? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You claim I’m no fun. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know — that my boring-ness, while tragic, makes a family. And my existence, while seemingly mundane and not very glamorous, makes a family.
“You don’t want the truth because deep down you know you want me raising these babies. You need me raising these babies. So I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to kids who rise and sleep under the blanket of love that I provide and then question the manner in which I provide it. I’d rather that you just said ‘thank you’ and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a bottle and stand the post.”
But I thought better of it. Because the other part they don’t understand is that I actually like raising these babies and fulfilling my role as the “Safe Zone.” This is fun for me. How can onsies, booties, gummy smiles and falling asleep nursing together be anything but?
When they get hurt or sick, who do they come hobbling to? Me, The Safe Zone! And I eat it all up. And this baby-raising part of life doesn’t last forever.
Before my mommyhood, I was a camel-riding, water-skiing, European train-hopping, cliff-jumping, cave-exploring, movie set-working woman. (I love it when my kids learn this kind of stuff about me. It’s shocks them.) And in a few more years, when the children are grown, I’ll saddle up my camel again, to be sure.
But until then, well, that’s why I married someone so fun. Please, give me some credit.
Margaret Anderson is a BYU graduate, free-lance writer, returned missionary, wife and the mother of five small children. Read more at www.jamsandpickles.wordpress.com