Geeks and jocks

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In the everlasting yin-and-yang of parenting, there is most often a "fun parent" and a "practical parent".

While the roles are most often played by mom and dad (with mom in the role of Band Geek and Dad as the Star Quarterback), they can just as frequently be filled by mom and grandma, dad and uncle, dad, mom and auntie...the possibilities are endless. The point is, while the players may change, the dynamic remains the same. Good cop, bad cop. Roller coasters vs. baby rides. Geeks and jocks.

I would like to be the fun parent. I'm not.

Don't get me wrong, I used to be fun. Really - crazy fun. In the not-too-distant past, I was the girl who loved acing the AP exam as much as skipping French class to see Al B. Sure at Tower Records (wow....did I really just invoke Al B. Sure in a parenting blog? Times have changed...). I was spontaneous. Crazy. At times, even impulsive (please note the yin-and-yang tattoo inked at 3 in the morning on the Las Vegas strip. Really...that was me. Check the right ankle if you don't believe me!).

This highly unusual balance of crazy and calm defined my youth and in large part formed the foundation of my professional success. I was practical enough to put in the work, but crazy enough to take big bets. Confident enough to go for the brass ring, even when I had no practical right to have it, and smart enough to work my ass off to keep it- and trade up for bigger and better rings along the way.

When I became a parent, something changed.

The AP kid in me remained - meticulously planning and budgeting and reading to ensure that everything was in order for the arrival of our little bundle of joy. I researched public and private school options through age 21 and scouted playgrounds, public parks and playgroups with equal fervor. I didn't want to know the baby's gender before arrival (that just didn't seem fair - there have to be SOME surprises in life, right?), but meticulously stocked up on gender-neutral clothing and play things in spades.

Before kids were even a thought, my husband (then fiance) non-chalantly called "shotgun" and claimed the role of Good Cop. It started with the cat and the trend continues to this day. After the arrival of bundles-o-joy Take 1 and 2, my slow and steady slide to the geek side continued. While my husband built castles out of empty food containers, I put away the groceries. Monster truck battles raged while I prepared meals for the week. He dove head first into the deep, rich world of play created by our children while I watched the clock to ensure that the lunch, nap, snack, dinner, homework, bath, book and bed routine stayed on schedule. He went on shopping sprees to Toys R Us while I balanced the checkbook. Played with the Christmas gifts while I made the lists and checked them twice.

Every now and again, I try to hang up my pocket protector - trade in my scientific calculator for a letter jacket. But more often than not, I find myself relating to the all-too-relatable Liz Lemon in last week's edition of 30 Rock. The cool kids always know...and put you back in your place.

Not unlike Liz, I generally thrive in my role of chief organizer, mess-cleaner-upper, mommy-in-chief. It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it, right? And while I stare longingly at the manic smiles of 2 little boys rolling on the floor with their dad, I know that in my own way I have fun with them too. I'm the one they snuggle with at the end of the day to read books. I kiss the boo boos (both real and imaginary), stand watch in the night when they are sick, the one who knows the size, shape, color and location of their flavor-of-the-week favorite toy. And, yes, on a regular basis I do play with my kids. Crazy, silly, unstructured play in addition to the nuts and bolts of doctors appointments, speech therapy and clothes shopping.

No, I may not be the fun parent. But I'm a good mom. This week, I'll try to do a little more playing and a little less planning. A bit more laughing and a bit less worrying. A tad more Greek and a lot less Geek.

More BadAss than Mama...
Elizabeth - Flourish in Progress said...

So true! I totally agree! I thought I would a cool mom and come to find out, I'm not cool at all, or fun, or anything resembling the magical image I had in my head!

Thanks for posting this. I'm glad someone else relates!

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