Calling All ‘Fun Moms’

On July 28, 2010, Sharon DeVellis, blogger at the Yummy Mummy Club, wrote an honest, heart-felt portrayal about the realities of being a WAHM. You can read her post, and I suggest that you do, at Ya…I’ve Got No Title For This One.

What’s a WAHM? WAHM is the acronym defining that growing segment of women who choose to be Work-At-Home-Moms. I am a long-standing, card-carrying member. We are a well-established, successful group, trying to find that delicate and elusive balance between working from home so we can be there for our kids, and still working. Working hard, I might add, with all of the responsibility and focus and commitment and yes, time, that entails. It is no easy balancing act.

Before I continue, to all of those mothers who choose to work outside the home, and to those who choose not to work at all, Kudos. These are not easy choices. Whatever you’ve decided, Good on you!

Now, back to WAHMs…

The plight of the WAHM is an oft-heard tale of woe, and I don’t mean to be facetious. When we’re working we feel like we should be spending more time with our children. When we’re with our children we are often distracted. Work and familial obligations intrude; we do not feel completely present. No matter what we are doing, our brains are often trained on the 18 billion other things we must organize, coordinate, plan and/or implement. Without reinventing (or in this case, re-writing) the wheel, Sharon said it best:

I feel sometimes there’s so much going on in my head that it may explode. I want to have fun with my kids but I can’t enjoy the moment because there’s so much to remember all the freakin’ time, and instead of being a mother I’m just going through the motions. I’m providing and giving but not really. I’m not really there. I’m exhausted. And sad. And conflicted. And jealous. And totally afloat in a sea of self-doubt. And wondering what the hell to do…Today I’m the mom who’s finally dropped all the balls she’s been juggling. Only I can’t pick them up because the tears keep blurring my vision.

Her words resonate with me in a profound way. I’ve been there; I still am there many more days than I care to admit. And she got me thinking.

I remember the day I learned that I, like Sharon, am not a ‘Fun Mom.’ My Little Miss was in grade three. She is entering grade eight this fall, and five years later I still think about it. I worked part-time from home then, as I do now, but I often had to visit the site of a very fashion-forward client. Consequently, it was common for me to be dressed-to-the-nines when I dropped-her-off and picked-her-up at school. Understand that, at my daughter’s school, situated on the tree-hugging, yoga-practising, Birkenstock-donning West Coast, mothers attired in anything other than cargos or LuluLemon are an anomaly. One day, when I was at my best—exceptionally funny and witty and creative and cool—I said to my daughter, half in fun but all in earnest, “Bet you’re happy to have such a fun Mom, hey?” Famous last words.

Her dead-pan response: “You’re not a Fun Mom. You’re a Fancy Mom. There’s a BIG difference.”

My work persona, complete with my penchant for skirts and high heels, got priority billing.

The jealousy Sharon acknowledges is an emotion I have grappled with myself. My daughter, like Sharon’s sons, would much rather play with one of her Dads (biological or step) than with me, any day of the week. Hands down. No contest. Sometime ago, I can’t remember where or when, and sadly, I can’t even remember what the heck it was called (helpful, n’est pas?), I read an article that spoke to the differences in brain development by gender, and the link between this and parenting traits. The upshot of the article was that brain research supports the view that women care for and teach their off-spring through nurturing; men through play. Simply put, men are biologically designed to be more fun. We can’t compete.

Which makes me wonder: Do ‘Fun Moms’ exist? Can any of us mothers, WAHMs or not, truly expect to put aside our over-riding sense of responsibility to family, kids, spouse, work, community, etc., and just play? Can we be more like our childrens’ fathers? Do we even want to be?

Sharon, if you’re reading, I feel for you man. I, too, have been told I am not fun. I, too, have felt like I am not giving my daughter enough of me. I, too, have a child who would rather play with one of her Dads than with me, and I’ve been jealous of their innate, care-free, playful spirits. And I, too, sometimes wish it could be different, wish I could be different. But having played the role of a WAHM since my daughter was four, and she’ll be thirteen this fall, I have come to terms with a few things. I know that I may never be really “fun,” but I also know that I’m the first person she wants to see in the morning, I’m the last person she wants to kiss her good night and I’m the first one with whom she confides her thoughts, her worries and her dreams. I’m okay with that.

So here’s my request: If there are any ‘Fun Moms’ out there, send me your stories, please! Share your suggestions for being more fun with our children. We would all like to be let in on your secrets.

6 Responses to “Calling All ‘Fun Moms’”

  1. My kids are both under three so I can’t say whether I’ll be a fun mom by the time they are in their preteens but I hope so! I find that it helps to share things with my kids that I think are fun, so that I am engaged in the activity just as much as them. For me, that is crafts and music. I just posted about a way that I make meals fun at my blog if you want to check it out.

  2. Hope you don’t mind but this answer may be a bit long winded. First of all, I think it’s important to note that we need to be parents to our kids NOT friends! And the job of parenting isn’t always fun … setting limits, teaching responsibilities, keeping schedules, insisting that homework is completed, establishing curfews etc. That said, I think it’s important that we also have FUN with our kids even if it’s only for 20 minutes a day. Reading a story, throwing a ball back and forth, baking cookies, tickling contests etc. It is hard to find 20 minutes some days … there are times when I’d rather jump in to a warm bath, go to bed early and read a good book but kids have to come first (especially when they’re young).
    In answer to your original question: Am I a fun mom? When my kids were young, I think I was lots of fun … we’d have craft days, messy paint days etc. Now that they are older, I think they think I’m boring. They are interested in golf and I’m not (although my husband is). They think I’m crazy wasting my time on social networking sites … I think it’s a great outlet. My youngest son loves electronic games and I despise Xbox etc. With any luck, as they get older and mature more, we will find more things in common again … meanwhile, I know I still have their respect and love and that’s what is important to me!
    I’ve visiting my Hope you’ll check me out at:

    • Hi Karyn and thanks for visiting. I think you are so right, particularly about being a parent first and foremost, and not a friend. My daughter will be thirteen this fall. I spend a great deal of time managing all of the things you mentioned: limits, homework, activities, time with friends, time with family, etc., etc., as well as my own life, interests and commitments. It’s interesting to me that many of the moms I have heard from seem to feel that being fun means relinquishing a part of their parental role. That they can be a fun friend, or a mom, but not necessarily both. I don’t think Dads feel this way. The most important thing, I think, is to take the time to really engage with our children, one-on-one. My daughter undoubtedly gets my attention, but I’m just not always sure that I “play” well, that I’m “fun” in the sense that her dads are, but that’s okay. She and I are close in a special way. I don’t need to put on a juggling act to know that. I will most definitely check out your site!

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