Most of the time I feel like my life is the grocery cart with the wayward wheel that takes all my strength and focus to keep from plowing into things. I spend a significant amount of my day struggling to keep things ‘on track’ and steering my children in the direction of a schedule where at all possible. As you probably guessed, I’m the fun parent. HA.
I am not whimsical, spontaneous, or imaginative. My bedtime stories involve real-world situations and are devoid of magical creatures. My trucks only drive on horizontal surfaces, and my artwork adheres to strict real-life color guidlines: green for trees, blue for sky, etc. At bedtime, when Robby is wrestling with Jack and they are both squealing with laughter, I’m the one checking the clock and droning “four minutes to bed time, so I gather we are wrestling instead of reading because we don’t have time for both”.
Robby is an excellent father. He is caring, kind, protective, and FUN. I don’t worry about my boys at all when he is in charge because I know they are safe and happy, and the only discomfort they feel is a case of the hiccups from too many giggles. They way he parents is absolutely perfect.
I am a rule-follower, much to my parents’ surprise. I don’t cut the tags of my mattress because it says “do not remove”, and I only decided I could use my fish spatula for other foods 6 months ago. It’s called a fish spatula, so, you know, FISH. But apparently that’s just the style, and I can flip whatever I flippin’ want with it. So now I live life on the edge. Only spatularly-speaking, though.
A mullet haircut is the best of both worlds: business in the front, party in the back. Once would hope that when I clock out at night and the kids are asleep, I get my party on. Mostly, I sit on the couch and watch a movie with my husband (but not a kids’ movie because those are for children, unless my children are in the room and then it’s OK). I am only the boring part of a mullet. I try to make things fun, I try to spice things up, but I find myself riddled with anxiety and I don’t know if it’s worth it to my kids if Mommy is a hot mess by the end of the day.
Robby can go to the garage to complete a task, and when Jackson follows him and wants to
ride around in his cozy-coup truck, they can do that, too. I am a freight train that can’t change direction. I went to the garage to get chicken from the freezer and now I am going inside to put it away and then I’m going to chop vegetables for dinner and then I need to clean the counter tops and maybe we can have some very structured and boring craft time where I remind my two year old that grass is green not purple and then he gets marker on the table and I have to clean it right away or it won’t come off so craft time is over. SO whimsical.
I see a lot of memes about parents with messy houses being better at parenting because they don’t spend their time cleaning. To me, a clean house is a sane house. If you can’t keep your house at a certain level of order I make assumptions about your mental stability because I have anxiety that is out of this world and instead of examining my own life I become a cleanliness snob. When my son sees a dust bunny, points, and says “dirty. Needa cleanit, Mommy” I immediately do so because he is judging me and will tell his friends his house is dirty and we’ll have to move to escape the shame. Yes, I have tried medication, thankyouverymuch.
After all that stress I put on myself, my house still isn’t spotless because I have two kids and a husband and myself and this is the longest I have lived in one house (over two years) since I was in second grade. I lived in Hong Kong, Moscow, DC, and Minnesota longer than two years each, but I moved apartments while I was there, so this house is my most forever-home. Naturally, I am now obsessed with purging the closets so we can someday sell it. Living somewhere longer than two years has been eye-opening, because hiring professional cleaners is often a requirement when you move out of an apartment, so I just walk away and don’t have to worry about weird things like dusting walls and recaulking bathtubs. This is the first house we have owned, also, so these things are our problem, and not the landlord’s. Oh man, do I miss the days of calling the landlord to say “the toilet is making a weird sound, please come do something to it” or “I found a bug, I need you to spray chemicals immediately”. Adulting is gross.
While I’d like to be a fun, silly parent, and am definitely working at being more relaxed (though is it still spontaneous if you work at it?), I do feel that every family needs the Business in the Front parent to keep things moving forward, attempt some semblance of schedule, keep up with well visits, yadda yadda yadda. I am working at my Party in the Back side, but it’s tough. If I take my eye off the ball for a second and make googly faces at my kids in the grocery store, the wayward cart careens off course and my kid’s pudgy arm takes out a row of olives, literally and figuratively.
Robby is a gifted, Full Mullet Parent. He can be fun and silly and wild, sprinkled with teachable moments and firm discipline when needed. I shall do my best to let my hair down. But only in the back.
Another fab example of your wit and talent. HOWEVER you are much too hard on yourself.
Katherine, I read every blog you write and I learn & laugh and in the end I just want to give you a hug and tell you I love you for your honest assessment of life behind the scenes written with such wit & heart! Blessings to you and your precious family! Deb Imhof
Katherine, you are a gifted writer. So much thoughtful in all your writings. Love reading them.