I’m not sure where I lost my fun side.
Perhaps it escaped the clutches of living in a harsh city like New York by taking the Long Island Railroad and retired on Long Beach.
Maybe it became trapped in the Diaper Genie after my son was born and was carried out to the dumpster along with a days worth of soiled Huggies. Or swallowed up in the wash of hormones that brought on post-partum depression after my second baby came home from the hospital.
More likely, it’s been shoved down deep, trapped under an avalanche of feeling like I can never get caught up with housework, carpools, and laundry.
Wherever it went, or however it disappeared, it’s gone. And I miss it.
But I know it won’t magically reappear out of thin air. That I won’t suddenly wake up one day and, BOOM!, I’m back to the less-stressed-out version of my self in my 20’s.
Sure, I was never one of those carefree, go-with-the-flow kind of people. Friends wouldn’t say they never saw me freak out or get consumed with a nasty case of Crankititis.
But I know I didn’t use to be this uptight. That at one time, I embraced being cheesy and silly and stupid more often than I do now.
And my kids have missed out on that person.
Oh, sure, there have been brief, fleeting moments of that forgotten side of myself. When I let go of my need to control every situation, forget about my to-do list, and bring out that easier, goofier side, I can see the flashes of excitement in my kids’ eyes.
Like, “Who is this fun woman, and why can’t she be my mother more often?”
For a brief moment, I act like the mother I hoped I would be.
And just as quickly, she’s gone, overtaken by the crazy lady that gets easily frustrated at the mound of crumbs that have been dumped on the kitchen floor.
Why can’t she make an appearance more often? Why is it so hard for me to say YES to play? And why do I let myself be more consumed by accurate bedtimes and a quieter house?
In essence, when did I become such a tight ass?
I mean, in theory, I get it. Life and having kids has a way of changing people. Some rise to the occasion and flourish. Others allow those challenges to harden them. And that’s what’s happened to that younger Me, the one that said Yes to things more often then No.
I’m sure the house would be happier if I let that person come out more.
It’s really up to me to bring her back. To play more. To be playful.
So, I’m trying. I’ve started dancing for my kids in the driveway, still in my pajamas, as their father drives them to school. I’m pulling out all the stops. I’m talking the Running Man, Roger Rabbit, The Kid-n-Play and fan kicks.
And my kids love it.
I’m trying to tickle more at bedtime, even though the controlling side of my brain wants to make sure the kids’ bodies are calm before trying to go to sleep.
I’m singing more around the house, including my requests for getting homework done and feeding the fish. It seems to get more smiles than my drill sergeant approach.
Sure, it’s not much, but it’s a start. And I’m not consistent, yet. Last night I went in to full-on command mode, barking orders for bedtime commencement like it was boot camp. It wasn’t until I had closed their doors that I realized how quickly I reverted.
But perhaps awareness is half the battle.
And next time, I can ask my kids to start brushing their teeth in my best opera voice.