It’s been a long year. We’ve experienced gut-wrenching losses, worked our fingers to the bone, and realized that we were insane. OK, we already knew that, but this was a different crazy. Our mutual workaholic attitudes keep me and my husband moving, all the time. I’m always ready to have fun, “as soon as I finish these dishes,” or “after I clean up dinner,” or “another time.” But after 2016 had its way with us and shook us to the core, we realized that our “another time” may never come and that it’s vitally important to enjoy any moment that you are able to grab and hang on for dear life, before it slips away.
In that vein, I tried to be Fun Mom last weekend. It’s definitely not a role that I wear well. It’s awkward and ill-fitting, like an exceedingly hairy old man in an XL Tinker Bell costume. You may respect his right to follow his heart, but you don’t have to like it and you definitely don’t have to accept the offered hug. So, though I know better, though I have been down this road many, many, painful times, though I still need therapy for the emotional scars left from last time, I did it anyway. I swallowed my sanity and said, to all of the people who live in my house, “How about we have a game night?”
I made the suggestion right after breakfast. Everyone was well fed, happily enjoying their bacon fat-induced high, each suffering from the same amnesia that had overcome me and caused me to spew such foul and ridiculous words. They said ok. And that’s when it began.
Within minutes, each child was suggesting wildly opposite game themes. On the one side, it was strategy and/or warfare. These games require deep thinking, a significant investment of time (approximately the entire remaining years of my life) and, ideally, a Ph.D. in history with a concentration in political science and Eastern European culture. The other theme was trivia and/or educational. These games require cooperation, the ability to identify the largest sea mammal — after the blue whale (you thought you had that one, didn’t you?) and a love of utterly useless knowledge.
There were hours of deliberation. I’m not exaggerating. I cleaned up the breakfast dishes, made a grocery list, went out and shopped for those items, came home, put them away, started dinner and wrote my own treatise on towel definitions and uses before they even had the options knocked down to a manageable list.
At one point, my husband begged them to just stop fighting and pick something. Both children stopped speaking abruptly. They were indignant in their incredulity.
“We’re not fighting. We’re having a well-reasoned debate about the individual merits of each person’s viewpoint.”
I swear to God, that’s what they said. We let them keep going. How do you even respond to that?
Some time later, the sun was beginning to set. In a stunning display of purples and pinks stained with streaks of orange, the day’s last stand painted the sky as it slipped away, leaving me in quiet reflection, filled with a hopeful peace.
“We picked Twister.”
“Of course you did.”
The irony is that no one wanted to play Twister. Because no one past the age of seven ever wants to play Twister. From the days of my youth, I can tell you that even teenagers who think it’ll be a provocative opportunity to end up in close proximity to a love interest realize three minutes in, that there’s nothing sexy about it and that pretty much every person is contorted into unattractive and unnatural positions, just hoping that no one farts in their ear.
And it’s because no one likes Twister that it was chosen. In the end, no one could agree upon a game that everyone liked, so they went with the one that no one liked. Because if game night is going to suck, why not make EVERYONE miserable, instead of just one or two of us?
But I was going to do this. I was going to be Fun Mom! I pasted on a fake smile, conveying both fear and loathing, and then gave myself a pep talk. I’m fit! I work out! Forget that you’re also 40-something years old with a trick back. You got this!
I did not, in fact, have it. But, because I am not only stubborn but also driven to win at all costs — two fantastic qualities in a mother — I was still standing, on one foot with my right hand in the air and my left hand behind the standing leg, 10 minutes in. Yes, I felt the pain. Yes, I knew that keeping my forehead pasted to my knee was going to cost me. But I didn’t lose!
I didn’t win, either. It was a tie. As I slowly and agonizingly straightened myself to a semi-standing position, I held onto that non-loss with all I had. I spent a few minutes searching the house for my heating pad before I remembered the dog had eaten both of them. Then, I just laid on the floor, stared at my ceiling, and prayed for the wisdom I had clearly been lacking when I said, “Sure, Twister sounds fun.” And also when I said, “Won’t having two kids be so fun? They’ll always have each other!”
I wish I had remembered about the heating pad prior to Twister-induced traction. I could have made myself one from this pattern on instructables.com. Or, I could have offered it up as family-craft-time and avoided the whole Twister disaster, all together. Because family craft time will never be a thing and every one of them would have run away faster than my dog when I yell, “come!” leaving me alone so I could peruse their forgotten Christmas lists and realize that I had failed, yet again, as a mother.
Wishing all of you a very merry Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, New Year, and/or any other holiday you may celebrate that I left out (because, as previously noted, I am a failure).
Here’s to a kick-arse 2017!
Laurie Nigro, is the mother of two biological children and one husband. She also takes care of a menagerie of animals that leave throw-up around for her to step in in the middle of the night. Laurie’s passionate about frugal, natural living, which is a nice way of saying she’s a kombucha-brewing, incense-burning, foodie freak who tries really hard not to spend money on crap made by child laborers. You can hear her rant about her muse (aka husband) and other things that have no bearing on your life, in this space each Sunday.
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