Shop the fall collection ➔

Without question, my husband is the fun parent in our household. When he’s cracking everyone up with his hilarious bedtime stories, I’m trying to remember when we last changed the kids’ sheets. When we’re hopping into the car to head to the pool, I’m slathering our daughters with sunscreen and checking that we remembered a change of clothes. When we visit a big city, my husband is pointing out the best restaurants and museums, while I’m scanning the surroundings for overzealous souvenir hawkers who might be within range of our kids.

Recently, when I traveled out of town for a long weekend, my husband threw a few clothes into a backpack and surprised our daughters with an overnight trip to their favorite amusement park. Seeing the photos my husband texted me during the trip, I smiled, knowing my kids were having a blast, but I also felt a familiar, stinging mix of jealousy and guilt. Why can’t I be more fun and spontaneous like that? I wondered. When I’m flying solo with the kids, our activities are decidedly more low-key—maybe a trip to Target or a treat at the Starbucks drive-thru.

I know I’m not alone. Lately I’ve noticed that many of us mothers view ourselves in a rather negative light: we are the boring, get-the-job-done parents, not the fun, lively ones. That’s not to suggest that moms can’t be fun and dads can’t be task-oriented; indeed, my mother and father were, by turns, skilled in both areas.

Yet for many of us, having fun with our kids goes on the back burner as other competing priorities—namely, our strong biological inclination to nurture—take center stage in our decisions. Our brave new world of 24/7 internet connectivity has made it all too easy to immerse ourselves in researching the latest threats to our children’s health and safety, from chemicals in food and toys to the risks of too much screen time. On top of this, we’re consumed by the day-to-day tasks that regularly fall on our shoulders—things like making sure permission slips are signed, remembering the birthday gift for a classmate’s party, and coordinating summer camp carpools. It’s no wonder our mental capacity for lightheartedness and spontaneity is often tapped out. If you struggle with anxiety like I do, the prospect of being a fun, go-with-the-flow parent feels even more daunting.

For all of these reasons, having fun with our kids isn’t always as easy as it sounds; the reality is that it can require a lot of work, energy, and planning. I’m not suggesting we give up on trying to have fun; creating those memories is worth the effort. I am, however, starting to question my own arbitrary, restrictive definition of what it means to be a good mother. Too often, I hear my inner critic scolding me, telling me I must be organized, calm, loving, creative, patient, and to add a cherry on top, I must always be fun.

How many of us have convinced ourselves that if we’re not circus ringmasters—on top of fulfilling our daily responsibilities, which might include everything from making sure the lunches are packed to holding down a full-time job—we are not enough? While constantly comparing ourselves to other parents can fuel this anxiety, I think on a deeper level, we also worry about disappointing our kids and the impact that might have on them.

It’s time to stop this, because we are enough.

Ironically, it was my daughter who made me realize the flaw in my thinking.

As my kids and I were getting ready for dinner one evening, and I silently ticked through all the things that needed to get done before bedtime, I sighed. Out loud, I uttered the thought that had been swirling around my head all day. “Dad is way more fun than me, I know.”

Then my youngest daughter piped up. “But Mama, you are fun! You make cookies with us and let us play with slime and we watch movies together.”

Maybe fun is truly in the eye of the beholder.

If you ever feel like a non-fun parent, let yourself off the hook, because your kids still think you’re a rock star. The best parenting style is the one that works for you and your family. And whether you’re riding rollercoasters, making messes in the kitchen, or sorting laundry on the floor, what matters most is that you’re spending time together.

Gina Rich

Gina Rich is a writer and mother of two daughters. She lives in the Midwest and shares caffeinated ramblings at www.lovehopeandcoffee.com.

I Thought Our Friendship Would Be Unbreakable

In: Friendship, Journal, Relationships
Two friends selfie

The message notification pinged on my phone. A woman, once one of my best friends, was reaching out to me via Facebook. Her message simply read, “Wanted to catch up and see how life was treating you!”  I had very conflicting feelings. It seemed with that one single message, a flood of memories surfaced. Some held some great moments and laughter. Other memories held disappointment and hurt of a friendship that simply had run its course. Out of morbid curiosity, I clicked on her profile page to see how the years had been treating her. She was divorced and still...

Keep Reading

The First 10 Years: How Two Broken People Kept Their Marriage from Breaking

In: Journal, Marriage, Relationships
The First Ten Years: How Two Broken People Kept Their Marriage from Breaking www.herviewfromhome.com

We met online in October of 2005, by way of a spam email ad I was THIS CLOSE to marking as trash. Meet Single Christians! My cheese alert siren sounded loudly, but for some reason, I unchecked the delete box and clicked through to the site. We met face-to-face that Thanksgiving. As I awaited your arrival in my mother’s kitchen, my dad whispered to my little brother, “Hide your valuables. Stacy has some guy she met online coming for Thanksgiving dinner.” We embraced for the first time in my parents’ driveway. I was wearing my black cashmere sweater with the...

Keep Reading

To The Mother Who Is Overwhelmed

In: Inspiration, Motherhood
Tired woman with coffee sitting at table

I have this one head. It is a normal sized head. It didn’t get bigger because I had children. Just like I didn’t grow an extra arm with the birth of each child. I mean, while that would be nice, it’s just not the case. We keep our one self. And the children we add on each add on to our weight in this life. And the head didn’t grow more heads because we become a wife to someone. Or a boss to someone. We carry the weight of motherhood. The decisions we must make each day—fight the shorts battle...

Keep Reading

You’re a Little Less Baby Today Than Yesterday

In: Journal, Motherhood
Toddler sleeping in mother's arms

Tiny sparkles are nestled in the wispy hair falling across her brow, shaken free of the princess costume she pulled over her head this morning. She’s swathed in pink: a satiny pink dress-up bodice, a fluffy, pink, slightly-less-glittery-than-it-was-two-hours-ago tulle skirt, a worn, soft pink baby blanket. She’s slowed long enough to crawl into my lap, blinking heavy eyelids. She’s a little less baby today than she was only yesterday.  Soon, she’ll be too big, too busy for my arms.  But today, I’m rocking a princess. The early years will be filled with exploration and adventure. She’ll climb atop counters and...

Keep Reading

Dear Husband, I Loved You First

In: Marriage, Motherhood, Relationships
Man and woman kissing in love

Dear husband, I loved you first. But often, you get the last of me. I remember you picking me up for our first date. I spent a whole hour getting ready for you. Making sure every hair was in place and my make-up was perfect. When you see me now at the end of the day, the make-up that is left on my face is smeared. My hair is more than likely in a ponytail or some rat’s nest on the top of my head. And my outfit, 100% has someone’s bodily fluids smeared somewhere. But there were days when...

Keep Reading

Stop Being a Butthole Wife

In: Grief, Journal, Marriage, Relationships
Man and woman sit on the end of a dock with arms around each other

Stop being a butthole wife. No, I’m serious. End it.  Let’s start with the laundry angst. I get it, the guy can’t find the hamper. It’s maddening. It’s insanity. Why, why, must he leave piles of clothes scattered, the same way that the toddler does, right? I mean, grow up and help out around here, man. There is no laundry fairy. What if that pile of laundry is a gift in disguise from a God you can’t (yet) see? Don’t roll your eyes, hear me out on this one. I was a butthole wife. Until my husband died. The day...

Keep Reading

I Can’t Be Everyone’s Chick-fil-A Sauce

In: Friendship, Journal, Living, Relationships
woman smiling in the sun

A couple of friends and I went and grabbed lunch at Chick-fil-A a couple of weeks ago. It was delightful. We spent roughly $20 apiece, and our kids ran in and out of the play area barefoot and stinky and begged us for ice cream, to which we responded, “Not until you finish your nuggets,” to which they responded with a whine, and then ran off again like a bolt of crazy energy. One friend had to climb into the play tubes a few times to save her 22-month-old, but it was still worth every penny. Every. Single. One. Even...

Keep Reading

Love Notes From My Mother in Heaven

In: Faith, Grief, Journal, Living
Woman smelling bunch of flowers

Twelve years have passed since my mother exclaimed, “I’ve died and gone to Heaven!” as she leaned back in her big donut-shaped tube and splashed her toes, enjoying the serenity of the river.  Twelve years since I stood on the shore of that same river, 45 minutes later, watching to see if the hopeful EMT would be able to revive my mother as she floated toward his outstretched hands. Twelve years ago, I stood alone in my bedroom, weak and trembling, as I opened my mother’s Bible and all the little keepsakes she’d stowed inside tumbled to the floor.  It...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Friendships End, No Matter How Hard You Try

In: Friendship, Journal, Relationships
Sad woman alone without a friend

I tried. We say these words for two reasons. One: for our own justification that we made an effort to complete a task; and two: to admit that we fell short of that task. I wrote those words in an e-mail tonight to a friend I had for nearly 25 years after not speaking to her for eight months. It was the third e-mail I’ve sent over the past few weeks to try to reconcile with a woman who was more of a sister to me at some points than my own biological sister was. It’s sad when we drift...

Keep Reading

Goodbye to the House That Built Me

In: Grown Children, Journal, Living, Relationships
Ranch style home as seen from the curb

In the winter of 1985, while I was halfway done growing in my mom’s belly, my parents moved into a little brown 3 bedroom/1.5 bath that was halfway between the school and the prison in which my dad worked as a corrections officer. I would be the first baby they brought home to their new house, joining my older sister. I’d take my first steps across the brown shag carpet that the previous owner had installed. The back bedroom was mine, and mom plastered Smurf-themed wallpaper on the accent wall to try to get me to sleep in there every...

Keep Reading