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Mom Talk: Are We Having Fun?

Written by Lauren Kitson

Photography by Ashley Koch, Photographed By Sarah Hebenstreit

We’re back with another round of “Mom Talk”, where we invite some incredible mothers, from all walks of life, to share their personal experiences and journeys through motherhood, whether it be struggles, triumphs, or anything in-between—nothing’s off limits when it comes to topics. This week, Lauren Kitson explains how having kids changed her view on what it means to have a good time. -JKM

It’s four o’clock on a Friday, and I’m out running errands with my two kids. The radio is on, but I can’t hear it over the chorus of questions and requests coming from the back seat. I find myself turning down the street where my husband used to live, while we were dating. I slow down as I approach the house and roll by with my foot on the break, as if casing the joint. I hope that the current owners don’t call the police to report me for stalking, although I’m pretty sure any decent stalker would be appalled by the level of noise coming from my car.

There’s nothing remarkable about the house—a brick twin on a relatively quiet street, a row of hedges in front that are in need of a good trimming. I note the railing that my husband painted before he sold it, and the light fixture he replaced on the front porch. I look up at the bedroom window. The house is only two miles from our current house, but it might as well be situated on another planet.

Back then, our weekends and evenings were spent listening to music, getting takeout from our favorite Thai restaurant, watching movies, and being in love. We went to a concert on a whim, took walks with no destination, drank wine with friends, and relayed stories uninterrupted. If I close my eyes, I can hear Tom Waits’ raspy voice filling the rooms and smell the pizza we made in that tiny kitchen—dough from scratch, of course, not the “throw some jarred sauce and mozzarella on an English muffin and toss it in the toaster oven” pizza we make these days.

These days look a lot different. While we still listen to music regularly and order our fair share of takeout, the music is kid-approved and the takeout is eaten at 8:30 p.m. after our two-year-old and three-year-old are fast asleep. On our bad days, the rooms are filled with the sounds of our kids crying over a stolen toy, and of our own frustrations as we repeat the threats of time-outs and or-elses. We pack for seemingly any destination, be it a week at Disney World or a trip to the library, lest we be without bunny crackers in their time of need. “Don’t forget the travel potty,” we yell. “Did you grab a binky?”. These days, having fun is a boat-load of work.

A few months ago, after we got back from an overnight stay at a local theme park with the kids, I was talking on the phone with my brother. “So, how was it?” he asked. “Did you have fun?”

“Me, personally?” I asked. To which he replied, “Yeah, you.” (Long pause).

It’s a very simple question with a complicated answer. And, the answer is this: it’s a different kind of fun. A kind of fun that could easily be clouded by the work. A fun that could, without real intention, be put on the back-burner and replaced with “easier”. In this season of parenting, we have to make time for fun, prepare for fun, and manage our expectations of fun. But, this emotionally and physically exhausting kind of fun is the most rewarding kind. It’s the kind that sticks to your bones and carries you through the hard times. It’s the kind that if you catch it at just the right moment, fills you to the brim with joy. It’s the antithesis of shallow and an ever-present reminder in the practice of mindfulness.

On our best days, our house is filled with the sounds of little voices singing and laughing, and our hearts are filled with love and gratitude for the opportunity to create a childhood for them that they can look back on with fondness—a childhood full of adventure, curiosity, love, and joy. So, even though it may take us a solid hour to get out of the house, that’s not what I’ll remember when they’re grown. It’s not what they’ll remember, either. I know the work is worth it. I see it in their eyes. I hear it in their giggles. I feel it when they wrap their tiny arms around my neck. How’s the saying go? Nothing worth having comes easy? As a parent of toddlers, fun is no exception.

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