Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Day 134: No Fun Zone

Growing up we had a license plate that read NFZ. The family joke was that it stood for No Fun Zone. Well, I guess it was a joke. When the ratio of truth to exaggeration is teetering in the wrong direction, it can be hard to tell.

You might be thinking: Oh, how sad that her parents didn't let her have any fun, that they were boring sticks in the mud who crushed her spirit in their fun-free minivan.

Au contraire! It was I (and my brother, but that's another story) who was the wet blanket ready to dampen the mood at any sign of enjoyment...unless of course it had to do with food, because then I was all in. Ah, I can almost see my pouty pre-teen face now.

I was a fun-loving girl and all - not giddy and frivolous, but definitely fun-loving - yet when it came to family affairs it was my subconscious mission to suck the fun out of life like the Grinch stealing Christmas. Unless it was something that I expected to be a good time, I sure as heck wasn't going to let it be. And the criteria for enjoyable events were as follows: Something I found interesting, something I was good at, something that had no chance of making me look foolish, something that was worth my time (according to me of course), something that didn't interfere with anything else I'd rather be doing (which, according to teenage me, would be anything not with my family), something that benefited me in some way (hence the reason eating out was a gimme), and something that didn't involve being seen with my family by my peers.

And God forbid I actually try to enjoy something that didn't fit the impossible criteria! No, no, no, I had to make sure that those things turned out just as miserably as I thought they would. Making the best of things would be like admitting I was wrong and that all my complaining, sighing, pouting, slouching, eyebrow furrowing and arm crossing was in vain. We couldn't have that after I went to all that trouble. Besides, being miserable, if accompanied by being right and proving a point, was more fun than having fun.

So my poor parents were trapped in the No Fun Zone with me for a large part of my life under their roof. (Sorry guys!)

Now I'm the one orchestrating family outings and herding everyone to the car with promises of a good time, and I'll cross my fingers that the energy I'm putting in to foster a healthy relationship with my kids will save me from dark, anti-everything teenage years. For now they're both all smiles and giggles, and Max in particular is impossibly happy even under tough circumstances.

Though I'd love to say I left it behind with my teenage years, it's clear that the killjoy part of me has yet to be purged since I still see it rearing its ugly head when things aren't going according to my master plan. I'm afraid it's going to infect the naturally amiable nature of my kids, or at the very least, continue to suck the fun out of life with my own family.

When I want to take a run to the park but the kids decide to nap on alternating schedules, it's in my nature to feel frustrated and get short with them. Let's call it what it is: adult pouting. I can run an inner monologue that says I never get to do the one thing I love, that everything I do is centered around them and nothing I like to do for myself fits in anymore and that we'll have no fun just sitting around the house OR I can throw my hands up and say "oh well, we'll try again tomorrow" and enjoy the rare solo time with each of them, maybe even have some fun. *taps finger on chin* which of those sounds better? (And as a reminder to myself, I am not a prisoner to naps! I can choose to strap them in an go anyway if it's that important to me. Choices, choices, choices! There are no victims in this family.)

Assembling all the pieces of the puzzle, this is what I see:
I have several responsibilities that require me to "get things done" while I'm parenting --> Getting things done while parenting is actually impossible (little known fact, but this is true!) --> This predicament leaves me feeling constantly behind and under pressure --> Feeling under pressure feeds my killjoy side and suffocates my fun-loving side --> Fun asphyxiation is a contagious disease that my children acquire from me - when I have no fun with them, they have no fun with me --> Feeling the tension and the lacking joy I should naturally have in mothering them, they begin to need me more, asking for the love I'm not giving them, and I am even less able to accomplish non-parenting tasks --> Crying, yelling, door slamming, toy throwing, Mommy! Mommy! Mommy! Is it bedtime yet? Who's idea was it to have kids anyway!?

I want to be a fun mom! I can be a fun mom; it's all up to me. My house doesn't have to be the No Fun Zone, it can be the Neighborhood of Jokes and Merriment (I guess our family license plate is not as well-suited for acronyms). So when I start to feel pressure, in addition to addressing the fear that underlies my stress, I'm going to find ways to make us laugh. Because what's the point if we're not having fun?

1 comment:

  1. This post cracks me up! I'm pretty sure I accompanied you on a few of your "no fun" outings. I can still see some of the looks you gave your parents in my minds eye.Haha...isn't it funny how perspective changes when you become an adult?