I let my kids play in the rain today.
I’m such a fun mom.
It wasn’t even a run-around-the-patio-and-get-back-inside-before-you’re-too-wet kind of play. It was twenty minutes of pouring rain, barefoot, splashing, soaked-to-the-bone kind of play.
I watched those darlings squeal with glee as they hid under the awning, screaming in tandem, “ready, set, goooooo!” Two sets of little legs charging into a wet wonderland of puddles, and I thought to myself, “Look at me go, being all laid-back and type B. I’m gonna have to write about this, so all the world will know what a fun mom I really am.”
When much of the day is spent doubting myself, frustrated by my impatience or lack of creativity, a #momforthewin moment is such a breath of fresh air. There were no umbrellas and no raincoats; I’m that kind of wild mom. There was laughing, jumping, hugging, and even one moment my daughter shouted, “This is so much fun!” My heart melted, snapping dozens of mental pictures because the ones on my phone would never capture the magic of this moment.
Then it was time to come in.
The next thirty minutes reminded me why I carefully choose my fun mom moments. Those two precious children, who seconds earlier optimized childhood innocence, quickly plummeted into the depths of toddler hell. Fun mom vanished and crazy mom came charging on the scene as we transitioned back to reality.
This is the downside of fun mom moments – they have to end. Despite the fact that I just threw caution to the wind, allowing my children to play in the rain or eat ice cream for breakfast, or, heaven forbids, use glitter in the house, they do not respond with an extra dose of cooperation. Good grief. Where’s the gratitude?
Instead, they turn me into crazy mom, standing in the rain, threatening a weeklong time out. Once inside with the doors locked, they squirm as I wrangle off wet clothes. Then, they proceed to flee in all directions as I corral their naked booties up the stairs. Inevitably a child slips. I’m forced to fake empathy when I really want to giggle and say, “Karma. Booyah.” The whining explodes into high gear because they are cold, and I now transition from crazy mom to silent mom – the most frightening mom of all. I stop reasoning, stop threatening, and methodically move through each task without a word. I show no emotional response when the one-year-old pees on the floor or the four-year-old wants to wear her Easter dress for naptime. I ignore all questions and comments as I clean the floor and silently zip the back of a sleeveless, floral dress. I complete my motherly naptime duties, only breaking my silence to robotically read Goodnight Moon. Blankets are distributed, curtains are drawn, and water cups are in place. When a song or back scratching is requested, I barely shake my head; they can read my eyes.
I exit the room and exhale.
Naptime has now been delayed a half-hour which undoubtedly means they will awaken a half-hour earlier than usually. I will spend this snippet of “free time” cleaning the grass and mud tracked in by little feet and starting a load of wet laundry that will sit in the washer until tomorrow. Farewell to my aspirations of being productive during naptime. I was going to write or prep dinner or remove the toenail polish that has been chipping away since August.
Change of plans.
All because I had to be a fun mom.
Moms, there are consequences to our recklessness. These children will not express gratitude by eagerly obliging to our every directive. They will want fun mom every moment of every day – chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, finger painting in the afternoon, and fort building before bed. Most frightening of all, they will begin to expect it. As if I can afford Dippin’ Dots every time we go to the zoo.
Take heed. Backfire is inescapable.
If you push them “Higher! Higher!” on that swing, they will fall off.
If you let them wear three tutus, pajamas pants, a cowgirl hat, and life vest to the grocery store, you will see your boss.
If you let them skip naptime to stay all afternoon at the pool, they will not nap again for a week.
If you let them have a picnic on the family room floor, they will trip, spilling drinks and catapulting mac-and-cheese across the room.
If you buy them that 25¢ plastic ring, it will break on the car ride home and their world will end.
Consider yourselves warned.
And now, go do it anyway.
Heaven knows, we all need fun mom every once in awhile. Crazy mom and silent mom have their place and time, as does eat-something-green mom, no-you-can’t-wear-shorts-in-December mom, drill sergeant mom, and pour-me-another-glass-of-wine mom. Those moms are necessary, part of the gig for us and our children, but they won’t be enough to keep us plugging along, pouring our very best into motherhood.
The repercussions of our carefree shenanigans will smack us in the face from time to time. But inevitably, the dust will settle – the puddles will be cleaned up, the tantrums will subside, and the schedule will return to normal. The chaotic memories will lessen, and we will be left replaying that scene right before the fun mom moment imploded in our face – the one where our mental camera was on burst and motherhood was exactly what we wanted it to be.
We will be filled with all the mommy feelings because our children are doing the kid thing right.
All because we had to be a fun mom.
About the Author
Joy Becker is a wife, mama, and writer living in Cincinnati, Ohio. She recently resigned from a twelve-year career as a literacy coach and first-grade teacher to become a full-time stay-at-home-mom with her two young children. She is a lover of new notebooks, October, and goat cheese, and a hater of traffic, scary movies, and overcooked asparagus. Her work has recently appeared in The Good Mother Project and Beloved. You can peek even further into her life at www.44andoxford.com.