What we’ll do for our children, and what we won’t

August 7, 2010 at 1:25 am (Family, Parenthood, PJ) ()

Having a new baby invokes new reflection about one’s parenting.  Even when it’s one’s fourth.  This is the first of some “Am I doing this right?” posts.

When they were a month or two old, I first noticed the difference in my boys’ reactions to Mark and I.

Dad got a lot of early smiles, and later, giggles. Dad = Excitement, then and now. For babies, Daddy brings goofy games, tosses into the air. For two-year olds, flying kites emblazoned with the character-that-shall-not-be-named-but-is-beloved-by-our-two-year-old. For six-year olds, launching model rockets and experimenting with dry ice.

Mama gets smiles, too.  Less, though.  Mama = well, Mama.  For babies, Mama brings milk, contentment in a liquid, and “rock rocks” to sleep.  For two-year olds, hugs and Band-aids when you fall daily, and water play while Mama does the dishes.  For six-year olds, continual pick-up-after-yourself reminders and a new world of chapter books read aloud.

Lest this post come off as Woe-is-me, I wish I were the daddy, let  me reassure you, Reader, I do not.  But I do wish sometimes I could manage to bring a little more fun into parenting.  I used feel fun, back when I was a cool babysitter that played My Little Ponies or read stories for hours and hours (and hours).  When I was the older cousin that had infinite patience to make sugar cookies all. day. long.  It’s one of life’s ironies that during the parenting stages you’d like most to savor and remember, you have the least energy to provide the wondrous experiences you imagine, back when you were a childless parenting expert.

My children lo-oove the attention of other adults.  Parker, especially, basks in the attention of adults, and has special friendships with at least five- our family friend Randy, my sister’s almost brother-in-law Tucker, Mr. C’s dad, a co-worker of my sister’s Whitney, and my cousin Joel.  Essentially, any adult that will pay attention to him.  They all provide something that Mark or I don’t- imaginative stories on the spot or copious running around, or just special attention that a child with at least his fair share of siblings doesn’t always get.  None of Parker’s adult friends are currently parenting young children.

My three oldest went away to my mom and dad’s the last three days, who invited Cousin Joel over for dinner.  (We aren’t, by the way, so redneck that we actually call him Cousin Joel in conversation.)  I am always so thankful to the adults that humor my children’s every whim, as was the report from both my mom and the kids.  What a nice guy he is to follow them on a long tour of all the best kids’ spaces in the big backyard, and to run races around the house with Greta on his shoulders, cackling like the goofy girl she is.

I struggle with the line of how far I’m willing to extend myself beyond my comfort zone, or simply beyond my likes and dislikes, in parenting.  I know I can’t be EVERYTHING for my kids; it wouldn’t  be healthy for me or them.  I figure if that was how humans were designed to work, we’d live in dens with our cubs only, and not socialize with the other bears.  Sometimes I want to be a part of everything though.  I look out at them playing soccer in the backyard with their dad while I clean up dinner, and I’m jealous. 

But then I realize, after caring for them all day, I’d RATHER be loading the dishwasher.  Sick as that may sound.  Sometimes I wonder if my line is too far away from trying to be everything, towards “mamas don’t need to do that”.  I make an effort to play soccer sometimes.  But I do have a longstanding rule that I don’t read books about things that need gasoline/diesel.  I was beyond tired of reading bedtime books about bulldozers, garbage trucks, and jackhammers.  Since they have someone [Dad] who actually likes these books, and hides my favorite tender Mole and the Baby Bird because “it’s stupid” so he doesn’t have to read it, I don’t feel too bad about this rule.  I know there will be a time that somebody has an interest in an activity that both Mark and I don’t.  If Mark is even less interested than I am, than I’ll be spending some Saturdays attending professional wrestling matches.

What about you?  What do you do let someone else do for your children, and what do you bedrudging do?



  1. mrs. g. said,

    I only have two (nearly grown) but I remember the screams when daddy came home. Let’s face it, mama is home all day getting the job done and occasionally less sparkly than daddy or other less familiar relatives.

    You have a baby–cut yourself some slack. I was never a down on the floor, lego making, wrestling kind of mom. That was my husband’s role. I loved reading books and cooking and hanging at the park with my two. As my kids grew so did our adventures.

    Mama to four! That’s a big job. Next time daddy comes home, slip out and go out for a coffee or a long walk. Great post!

  2. Jenn @ Juggling Life said,

    This is a really interesting observation. I definitely wanted my time with a book when my husband was around–then again, sometimes I wanted to be in on the play time–I’d say about half and half.

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