I’m not the fun parent and I’m okay with that

When Margs was approximately 6 months old it became really clear that Mer was becoming her “fun parent”. At first, my big green monster reared its ugly head and I got really jealous and resentful that my precious little girl (that I gestated horizontally for so so long) appeared to show a clear preference for her father. I cried, a lot. Seriously, far more times than I’m even comfortable admitting at this point. Selfishly, I believed that she’d somehow know what sacrifice I’d made to get her here safely and prefer me by default (totally minimizing Mer’s suffering- because he suffered too. My grief was so very selfish and I plan to write about that one day). Clearly, she loves me dearly but as she gets older and develops more autonomy it’s pretty clear Mer is still the fun parent.

And you know what guys, I’m totally okay with that.

As Mer and I navigate this parenting thing we’re realizing pretty quickly that our roles are very different. Mer is the fun parent while I’m the authority figure setting boundaries and creating consistency and routines in her life.

Why? I’m with her the majority of the time since I’m her primary care giver because we decided that Mer would work full time (makes sense financially) and I’d stay at home with her until she’s at least school aged.

If Mer were the stay at home parent I imagine the roles would be reversed. Her “preference” by consequence has no bearing on whether one of us is genuinely more “fun” than the other but rather by our different “presence” in her life.

Mer’s experiences with Margs are far  far different than mine. He spends 10-12 hours per day outside our home fixing and geeking out over complicated computer problems. During this time I’m parenting a strong willed little one who most recently became extremely mobile, curious and creative so I’m often trying to make sure she doesn’t manage to evade me and walk over to the kitchen, pull out the trash and feed that shit to our dog.

When he arrives home in the evening he’s had the time to “miss” her in ways that I’ve really never experienced since he gets a physical detachment from her every single work day. Naturally, she’s super excited to see her dad who is most likely more excited to see her than she’ll ever know – and you know what, it shows in the way they interact. That excitement builds and the house immediately fills with loud baby giggles and squeals. Squeals and giggles that I have to work really really really hard to achieve during the day since for the most part I’m chasing her around saying things like “no, don’t touch that”, “be careful that’s gonna make you boo boo”, “don’t put –insert disgusting thing here– in your mouth” and “woah, slow down so mommy can catch up”.

Not being the fun parent means that I’ve got a huge responsibility – it’s  my job to create rules and boundaries around here that will hopefully create a sense of independence and self-responsibility in my little girl. By virtue of me being her primary caregiver, I’m responsible for shaping this tiny human into a kind and gentle soul who I hope grows up to do great things and find enormous happiness on her journey into adulthood. This is not to say that Mer is completely removed from this experience – we’re very much on the same page when it comes to our parenting style but, he takes a more passive role because he’s just not here enough to follow through on any of it. Sure, he steps up big time on the weekend where his fun parent role temporarily takes the back burner while I’m out running errands and he’s home alone with her but the majority of the time I’m just not her fun parent.

And, I’m totally okay with it.

I’m honored to have the privilege of not being the fun parent. I’m grateful to be responsible for her physical and emotional growth. I’m indebted to the universe for giving me the chance to parent this amazingly clever, darling and determined little girl who I love beyond words.

Not being the fun parent is actually pretty damn wonderful.

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Is there a fun parent in your household?

 

 

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When I was pregnant I never gave much thought to the actual act of parenting. I didn’t read parenting books, I didn’t look ahead, I didn’t sit there and sketch out a plan of how I would raise my little girl. My history is 100% to blame for my reluctance to face the fact I was actually going to become a Mum to a living child so as you can probably imagine I had no clue what was awaiting me when she joined us earth side last December.

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I spent so much of my time convincing myself I’d lose her that thinking through what parenting actually meant to me was unfortunately not my priority. When she arrived I was frazzled, insecure and terrified because I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea how to care for this perfect tiny human.

Enter the internets where motherhood and parenting are glammed up to look like the interior pages of some glitzy mommy magazine . I perused pinterest, facebook and instagram and was horrified by how “put together”, “perfect” and “easy” all these expert Mums made the task of caring for a little one appear.

I later started interacting with other mums. Some rainbow mums, some not and it became pretty clear that my feelings of exhaustion, insecurity and terror were far more common than the interwebz led me to believe. Motherhood is hard work and the internet can be a bold faced liar making it appear to be an easy task. This idea that moms need to have it “together” all of the time is absolutely ridiculous and so incredibly damaging to moms like me who sometimes struggle with the demands of motherhood.

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So, I wanted to share my authentic experiences of motherhood with you today and I hope you’ll share yours with me too. Some will probably make you cringe- others laugh? (hopefully) and I hope that if you’re a new mum feeling like you’re drowning this post will help you realize that you’re not alone.

My kiddo is nearly 14 months old and some days I’m still left wondering what the hell I’m doing.

/ Wishing time would stop and simultaneously speed up at the same time. Being exhausted all the time often leads me to wish the day away, then I feel guilty because I should focus on savoring every single moment. They’re only little once right?

/Abandoning my personal care regime and strangely being okay with it. Pre-baby I was insanely vain about my hair, makeup and clothing. Today, my hair is always tied (in the early days I legit developed dread locks because of how many days I went without actually combing it – I’ve since gotten a shorter more manageable cut), I wear zero makeup and live in mom tights. Most days my legs are unshaven and my socks don’t match.

/ Prioritizing happy and quiet baby over clean and freshly changed baby. Sometimes she’s so peaceful and content playing with books or puzzles that I leave her sitting in her poop to avoid a diaper change mega meltdown. She absolutely hates having her butt cleaned – think arched back, red faced screaming hates it.

/ Pretending to be fast asleep when Margs wakes up for a night feed. I don’t always do this but some nights I’m just so tired that I hear her and pretend I don’t. Mer is a saint and takes care of it. I think he’s on to me too.

/Heading out for 30 minutes of free time in the evenings to just get away and clear my head. Drug stores are my favorite because I peruse the aisles, try on different perfumes and listen to music on my i-Pod. Oh my god. I cannot believe I’ve actually just told you that!

/Awkwardly bursting out into children’s songs at the most inopportune times. I recently started singling “if allllll the raindrops were lemon drops and gum drops – ohhhhhh what a rain that would be” in the grocery store. Outloud. By myself.

/ Planning to do creative, stimulating, entertaining and otherwise amazing activities with my kiddo only to burn out by 1pm and abandon ship. I try my best but some days the best I can do is play puzzles, read books and hope for an extra long afternoon nap.

/ Loving this child so fiercely and deeply it hurts. Margs is my blessing, my miracle, my world. It doesn’t  mean that parenting her is easy though. Some days are awesome and other days are hard but ultimately I’m learning to be okay with doing the best I possibly can. Motherhood aint about perfection folks.

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Now tell me, what are your authentic experiences with motherhood?

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Over the weekend Mer and I were treated to a day off so we could head out on an adventure just the two of us. We’re really strange when it comes to spending time away from Margs. We often complain that we need a break but when a break is so generously offered to us all we can think about is rushing through our “free” time so we can be reunited with Margs.

One weekend a few months back we literally drove around aimlessly because we had no idea what to do with ourselves while Margs spent the afternoon with her grandparents. She adores being there because she gets spoiled rotten so we have absolutely no excuse for not relaxing and enjoying our time away. I’m embarrassed to admit that we ended up doing our weekly grocery and running a few errands that day- exciting stuff hunh?

Mer surprised me this weekend by organizing babysitting with his parents so we could do something together. He knew I’d had a rough week and that my anxiety was running pretty high so he decided we’d take a break and do something fun.

He came up with a plan to drive a few hours to Montreal so that we’d be forced to enjoy our time away from Margs and not pull our usual stunt and rush back to pick her up.

It was so so nice to spend the day exploring the city despite the freezing cold.

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Our first stop was Misoya Ramen on Bishop street. Mer had a visa gift card that he’d received from work for his birthday that we never got around to using so he decided we’d go out for lunch. We’d been wanting to try Ramen for the first time and figured Sunday was a perfect opportunity to do so since there were so many great Ramen shops around. We also rarely eat out so it was an extra special treat. We really scaled back on eating restaurant food way back when we were tackling our debt problem and we’ve gotten so used to eating at home that we rarely order in or eat out – we’ve sort of eliminated it from  our lifestyle. So, this was an extra fun opportunity to eat delicious food and catch up on non-parenting things.

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It was delicious!

We purposely ordered different bowls so we could share. I went with a Komemiso broth (savoury) while Mer opted for a Momemiso (full bodied flavor). They were both quite good although my Komemiso was a tad saltier than I would have liked so if we had to repeat this meal I’d opt for the Momemiso instead. I plan to try and recreate this meal at home in the near future – I’m researching how to put together the broth because there’s got to be a way to recreate this meal without paying restaurant prices.<—– frugal mindset folks.

Why date nights saved my marriage

During the time we were trying to conceive, Mer and I really struggled. We love each other dearly but grieving and the heartache of losing 3 pregnancies really took its toll on our relationship. Mer often felt like he couldn’t grieve because he needed to support me in my grief (disclosed to me in therapy). There were times that we felt like our lives were consumed with trying to conceive and we really forgot to nurture our relationship and focus on rebuilding and rekindling the “us” which felt lost in this world of medical intervention and timed intercourse. It was really hard and at some points I questioned if our relationship would survive. Our day to day life just felt so incredibly scheduled and forced.

It survived, thanks to our therapist who suggested we go on date nights to help refocus our energy on rebuilding the parts of our relationship that were broken down from years of heartache and loss. She suggested we schedule time to get to know each other again (because life experiences shaped and changed us along the way) and focus on strengthening our relationship by having fun which sadly really wasn’t part of our lives for such a long long time.

Thankfully, we stuck to it and we really enjoy our special time together whether that be once per week or once per month (now, we aim for once per month). We shut off our phones, we don’t check facebook, instagram or twitter and just spend time catching up on things that we might not get the time to discuss on a day to day basis. It’s really quite amazing how much goes unsaid when you’re busy tending to a house, a job, a kid and other adult responsibilities so it was so so nice to catch up.

Date nights are expensive though or at least initially they were. When we scaled back our monthly budget we feared that we’d have to eliminate our date nights altogether because spending 50$+ at a restaurant just wouldn’t work for us anymore. We came up with a few budget friendly date nights that we not only really enjoy but work well with our budget and frugal lifestyle.

A few tips to enjoy your date night without spending a fortune

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Change your date night mind set. Date nights don’t have to cost money. This is where we struggled in the beginning – what are 2 people supposed to do without spending cash? Well, we got creative and we found a bunch of fun, entertaining and otherwise awesome activities to do on date nights without spending much money. Walks, hikes, skating, swimming, free music festivals, free comedy shows, free firework displays, free cooking lessons – there are so many options out there that don’t require you spend a ton of money – often you can even find free options. We researched a ton and explored what was available to us in our area. Since moving, we’ve actually made a bunch of new friends by attending various free activities offered by our township. We love finding new things to do and often Mer will send me an email letting me know that he found something super cool for us to do together. Just yesterday he let me know that there’s a free tour of a local museum – we’ve penciled that in for our next date night.

Get moving – We were stuck in a very conservative mindset that date nights had to include dinner and a movie because that’s what we used to do when we dated before getting married. As much as I like to dine out and catch a movie, these activities get pricey and catching a movie actually prevents us from connecting and chatting which is the point of “dating” anyway. So,we’ve made a conscious effort to try things like walking, hiking, swimming and biking together. I can’t tell you how much fun we have biking through small rural towns about an hour away from where we live. We drive down dirt roads and revel at the beauty of the country side. Mer actually installed a large wicker basket on my bike so I can haul a small picnic with us – it’s such a fun and inexpensive way to spend some quality time together.

Enjoy each other – we tend to focus on picking dates that maximize the amount of quality time we spend together without distraction. Our daily lives are quite busy and leave little time to just sit and “be” so we tend to opt to do things that offer us an opportunity to talk and communicate. For us, enjoying each other can come in the form of sitting by a bonfire, sipping a beer and just chatting or taking a long walk through the forest behind our home. Thankfully we’ve been able to create a separation between the belief that spending money on elaborate evenings out is the only way to date thus focusing on quality time instead which often costs no money at all.

Plan & Budget ahead – we do spend money on dates occasionally. Although we’d much prefer to have a free date that’s just not always possible. Last summer for example there was a new restaurant opening up in our town and we decided that we’d love to attend the opening. So, we budgeted ahead and set aside a small amount of cash to allow for this luxury. More often than not, every third date costs us a little cash. By budgeting ahead and planning for it we’re far more conscious of how much we spend when out and enjoy this extra luxury so much more.

What some of our date nights have looked like

  • Walks through the forest with steaming cups of homemade hot chocolate
  • Drives to our favorite spot in gorgeous St-Donat to walk the lakefront beach
  • Watching free fireworks competitions while munching on homemade appetizers
  • Staying in and cooking an awesome meal together with no phones, t.v or other distractions (the last time we did this we experimented with different types of curry)
  • Skating on a frozen pond (I’m clumsy and can’t really skate but Mer holds my hand and we have a few good laughs)
  • Free outdoor music festivals in the warm summer months
  • Sipping wine by our homemade fire pit in the backyard
  • Renting a pedal boat at a local beach and spending hours floating and chatting (approx 5$)
  • Thrifting without actually buying anything. Mer and I are both history buffs so we love visiting thrift shops and antique shops to discuss the treasures we come across.
  • Pick your own produce in the summer. We love to spend days at a local farm supplementing our garden goods. We once spent an entire day picking broccoli rab to freeze for the winter.

Do you make time for dates with your partner?

What’s the most recent “date” you’ve been on?

Any cheap and budget friendly date ideas you’d like to add to the list?

 

 

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