Fun? Define "Fun"…

My husband Matt and I are trying hard to make sure that parenthood doesn’t turn us into complete losers. We had a very active social life back in the St. Louis area, where we met and got married. We had a great group of friends on both sides of the Mississippi and were constantly involved in something, whether it was floating on a friend’s pontoon with a cooler of beer, meeting up with our trivia team, “The Cream Puff Party”, every Thursday night, or getting together with other couples for “Wine and Cheese Club”, which turned into “Scotch and Cigar Club” for the boys. We were spontaneous: if it was a gorgeous afternoon and we felt like driving up the River Road to spend it at a winery overlooking the Mississippi, well, school work and studying could wait.

Clearly, that all changed when we had a baby.

“Fun” doesn’t mean the same thing that it used to. Even if I could “spontaneously” get a babysitter, I wouldn’t want to stay out late, because my daughter gets up at 6:00 every morning, no matter what. I wouldn’t want to   get drunk, because a lot of times someone has to drive that sitter home. And even if she could drive herself, my daughter gets up at 6 A.M. Every. Morning.

Cramming myself into a small Syracuse
shirt was probably not the best idea

Recently, Matt and I went to see the NCAA Final Four. A year ago, we were sitting on the couch watching the tournament and saw that the 2013 final round would be held in Atlanta, only two hours away. We said to each other, “Hey, that would be fun,” and entered our names into a lottery for tickets. By the time we found out we were going, I was pregnant and we had basically completely forgotten about the lottery. Still, it was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of opportunity. And it did sound fun. So, Maggie went to spend the night with her grandparents and Matt and I headed down to Atlanta to check out some free concerts taking place near the Georgia Dome before the main event got started. Whereas a few years ago we would have been right up in the crowd drinking $8.00 Bud Lights, we stood toward the back with our bottles of water and bopped along to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis before deciding that it was getting too hot out to stick around for Ludacris. Besides, all that standing up was making me sleepy.

The bottom line is, the Final Four was a nice experience. Despite the crowds, and the insane lines for food, and the nosebleed seats, and the obnoxious older couple sitting behind us, and the fact that Syracuse lost, and the long drive home after midnight, I was still glad that we had done something together for ourselves. But fun? Like we used to have? Not exactly.

A few days after the Final Four, still exhausted from the whole experience, Matt had a meeting after work and I was too tired to cook a real dinner, so Maggie and I settled for quesadillas and an ice cream cone on the back deck. As she ran around chasing bumblebees in her diaper, with pink ice cream rivers coursing down her little arms, and we basked in the beautiful warm evening until Matt got home, I realized that this is what fun has become. My daughter reminds me that fun used to be a lot simpler and more joyful than what I’ve been missing.

This is the face she made when I asked her to “look happy”

I could stop here, with that message: appreciate the fun times that your children give you, because if you spend your time wishing for the old times then you’ll miss the happiness that’s right in front of you. It’s a lovely message, but the fact is that a lot of parenthood isn’t fun at all. Am I having fun when my daughter is pulling shoeboxes off the shelves at Kohls while I’m attempting to buy one thing for myself? No. How about when she is kicking and biting me because I told her that she can’t watch another episode of Sesame Street? Nope. Is it fun when, after a day surrounded by 7th-graders, completely worn out and brain dead from their questions, with a bag full of grading that I’d like to get done in order to avoid more of the same questions tomorrow, I pick Maggie up from daycare only to find that she is just as cranky as I am? Negative. Is vomit in the car seat fun? What about worrying about her ALL the time? Is that fun?

No, a lot of parenting is just really, really hard. Earlier this week, I heard an interview from the CEO of the Life is Good Corporation in which he said, “Our motto isn’t ‘Life is Easy’.” It’s true, life, especially as a parent, isn’t easy. But when I think about my daughter, or describe her to others, she’s not a burden or a stumbling block. She makes me laugh or smile 100 times a day. She’s this bright, wonderful gift, and I can’t imagine ever going back to my life before her (obviously, because I’m about to do this all over again).

I sure hope to again have the kind of spontaneous fun that made my husband and I who we were when we met and fell in love. For now, I guess I’ll keep working my butt off to raise a child responsible enough to trust at home while we go party it up somewhere in Europe- and I’ll try to have a little fun while I’m at it.

4 thoughts on “Fun? Define "Fun"…

  1. Jennifer Nagle says:

    … and of course Maggie burned her hand today.

    I totally agree with you– the “fun” you “miss” isn't fun anymore! I had 2.5 beers last night, was HAMMERED and debating the cruelty of “Swamp Wars” with my husband, asleep by 10 pm. Today, I am in a fog ALL DAY LONG, saying to myself, drinking isn't fun anymore.

    BUT there are the moments where having that (one) beer is completely awesome and worth it. It's that whole, life is completely different now, but not bad different. Some things suck, but I still love the things that suck more than the things that used to suck before. Does that make sense? Also, I'm a rookie mom so maybe I'm a little too optimistic right now. I have a kid who just smiles at me and doesn't move much from the position I put him in.

    Personally, I like the mom camaraderie (I had to look up that spelling) we have– I don't feel alone, and I hope you don't, either. I'm just impressed that you're able to write this cohesive essay compared to my interrupted sentence fragments which equal my thoughts now.


  2. Jenny says:

    Thanks so much for the feedback. “The mom camaraderie” is totally my goal, and I hope that once Levi can move around a little bit and sass back it will at least be helpful to know that we've all been there. Thanks for thinking I'm “coherent” too!


  3. Beth Dunn says:

    I love this blog post. Especially the image of little MJP running around the deck with ice cream all over her body, in just her diaper. Someone gave me a card once (I think it was Jennifer Nagle, appropriately) that said, “Those were the days. And so are these.” I think that sums it up nicely, right?


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