A few weeks ago, my 7 year old daughter said something that made me take pause. We were making a bed together and she did something goofy that I happened to find particularly funny and laughed with her. She looked at me and said “You laughed? You never laugh.” I forced some more laughter out and brushed it off with her. Of course I laugh, don’t I?
I couldn’t get that interaction out of my head and thinking about it more I recalled another conversation we had awhile ago. I had a positive reaction to something she was doing and she stopped to tell me she was happy to see me smile because I never smiled anymore.
After those two comments from my daughter what really hit home with me was a conversation with my husband before bed just a few days ago. He casually mentioned that our daughter had asked him to collaborate with her in an effort to get mommy to laugh more.
Never smile? Laugh more? Me? She must be mistaken – I’m a happy person. I love my life and my kids make me happiest of all – of course I smile and laugh with them. But what if I don’t show them enough how much fun I have with them? What if my knowing I am happy isn’t enough?
I realized I couldn’t ignore these comments from my daughter. Even though we do laugh and smile together, I suddenly felt I was dangerously close to creating a lasting impression on my kids as an unhappy person. That is not the memory I want my kids to have of me. I don’t want them to look back on their childhood and have no recollection of mom having fun!
What my kids don’t realize, of course, is that I – as the mom – facilitate almost all of the ‘fun’ things they do. I think in most families the planning, scheduling and organizing falls on the mother’s to-do list and I am no exception. I work hard to make sure my kids have lots of fun and varied experiences, whether it is through traveling, classes, community activities, surprise meals, library programs – the list is endless. However, also as the mom who is in charge of schedules I am always thinking 2 steps ahead.
For example, a “fun” morning at the Hands On Museum is great – the kids love it and so do I – but while I am trying to enjoy the activities with them I am also always conscious of what needs to happen next. ‘We need to get through X exhibit by about Y o’clock so we have time to hit everything else we want to see and still get a decent lunch in before nap time.’ Maintaining a schedule is stressful to me – I have never been good with time management, but there is no choice with children. I think this underlying stress can lead me (and maybe some of you) to give off a more anxious vibe that isn’t very fun-loving. Anyone who knows me would tell you without hesitation that I’m a very laid back person, but when it comes to my kids I just can’t be.
Realizing all of this has given me some new motivation and, while I’m not big on making resolutions, I feel the new year is the perfect time to focus on making some changes in my behavior around my family. So for 2017 I’m resolving to be a ‘fun’ mom and to make sure my children see how much I love spending time with them and just how happy they make me every day.