I seem to base all my “shoulds” on photos, commercials, and social media posts when I see parents doing all the kid-things with smiles on everyone’s faces. Bath time for example. It starts with the registry and me scrolling the aisles of Buy Buy Baby where there’s an entire bath section for babies. Not only are there toys galore but there are also pictures on the toys of families splashing, laughing, and making it seem like this was the way to be while washing your baby. There are bubbles, colors, squirty things, and babies squealing for joy. I registered for a bunch of bath time gear and continued to buy more gear as the years went on. 6 years later…

I still hate bath time. I’m actually just admitting it out loud this week. Gosh that felt so good!

Brooklyn is 6 and there are so many things that I’ve pressured myself into thinking I had to enjoy in order to be a “good mom”. Through these years I’ve pretended- a lot. Not only did I feel guilty for not enjoying every single moment with my daughter but I didn’t hear other moms talk about the things they truly didn’t enjoy. So I basically felt like I was either complaining or inadequate at finding joy in things Brooklyn was doing. I’d hear women talk about how much they LOVED bath time and they had all these joyous stories about their experiences. Only when I had the bravery to say on social media one day, “Ya know, I really hate bath time.”, and a friend of mine responded to my Instagram story with a “God I hate it too!” did I realize I wasn’t alone. Man it felt great to feel normal and not like an alien from another planet.

What else do I wish I could “opt out” of? Well, let’s see…

  1. Anything that has to do with pretending to be something.
  2. Schoolwork at home. I never enjoyed doing homework or summer schoolwork with my mom either.
  3. Dress up. Enough said.
  4. Spa day. Thank you “Fancy Nancy” and your “Oooh La La Spa”!
  5. Playing in our basement. I hate our basement. I’m trying to enjoy it but for me, it’s just a place that doesn’t give me energy. It’s the only place to go when you have 2 hours to kill before dinner when it’s a blizzard or below freezing. I think I have some sort of PTSD from going there when she was a toddler as she ALWAYS wants to go in the basement. It’s usually the area of pretend play as the costumes are down there. Simply put, it’s not my happy place.
  6. Going to the park. I have total anxiety about her falling through the 8 different random open areas where she can fall 15’ down. Plus she is JUST learning how to ask others to play with her versus always asking us to go down the slide with her. What sucks is there are some a-hole kids that won’t play with her or she’ll be an a-hole and not want to play with them anymore. Where it’s back to “Mama, can you please come up here and play?”

On the other side, what do I love doing with Brooklyn? Well, let’s see…

  1. Anything with music.
  2. Anything with arts & crafts.
  3. Reading.
  4. Going to the Morton Arboretum. It’s magical.
  5. Going to museums.
  6. Going to plays (yes, she loves musicals just like me!!!).
  7. Going to movies. I actually watch them too, I don’t just go for it to be a break for me.
  8. Going to experience new restaurants.
  9. Yes, you may think I’m crazy but I do love going to the public pool with her. It’s the only thing that satisfies me when it’s 95 and humid.
  10. Science experiments minus making slime.
  11. Cooking.
  12. Talking. Simply talking to her. Maybe we grab some ice cream down the street or have dinner on our weekly “girls’ night” where I love that we now have some pretty awesome conversations.
  13. Board games.

I have some more but hopefully you get my point that even though I have some “opt out” items, AKA activities I’d rather delegate to my husband or her grandmother, there are so many things I LOVE doing with her. There is enough variety within all this, where it’s not all about me (I know you feel selfish thinking of yourself), it’s about us as a family. I’m here to tell you it’s not selfish to expose your child and do things that you enjoy doing but rather a gift. And yes, there are times when I have to give her a bath. Actually 9 times out of 10 I’m the one doing it. But there are other times I simply tell her I’m just not in the mood to do what she wants in that moment. She then learns that it’s not all about her either which will help her in her relationships. In my eyes, that’s a win-win and a great parenting moment. So honor your passions, teach your children about the give-take world, and stop feeling like you’re not a good parent if you don’t like playing Ninja Princess.

Michelle Mansfield Blog

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