Sometimes I feel like an outsider in my house. Because I’m the forcer-of-fun. The overenthusiastic, embarrassing, pushy outsider. It’s not a great feeling.
My teens are not enthusiastic. They’re chill, like their father. Who insists, when pressed, that he’s having fun on the inside. Which isn’t that much fun for me, the wife and mother, who wants to have fun on the outside..
It’s very frustrating for me having this sedate family. I’m girl who could dance and laugh all day and all night. A girl who has a child-like enthusiasm and joy for the most mundane experiences.
My family is like that Carnival Cruise Lines Ad where they can’t get the teenage girl to smile.
I like to make memories, not just have them.
My family likes to watch the memories happen from the sidelines.
I like to dance like no one’s watching.
They like to watch me dance and then make fun of me afterwards.
I like to take a million pictures and then look at them over and over again.
They don’t like to be in pictures. (Well, with me. They like to be in pictures with their friends.)
My children have always been like this. They tend to be quieter, even when they’re with their friends. My boys don’t dance and my girlie doesn’t really act silly. Since when is the mother the immature kooky one in the house? Since when should the mama have to cut loose by herself while her family watches on blank-faced?
Is it bad to say I’m a little disappointed in how this has all panned out?
I had this vision of a life full of exciting adventures.
When the kids were little we’d take them to concerts, like Raffi or Barney, and while the other preschoolers would be dancing in the aisles, they ‘d be hiding under their chair or staring openmouthed at the stage. When we’d take our summer road trips, they preferred to sit in the room watching TV or hang in the cafeteria than adventure for hours.
Do you know any other kids who got bored at water park hotels? ANY?
It’s not often that Mommy is the ever-ready bunny and the one trying to cajole her kids into staying up all night to ring in the New Year.
And all I can say is good thing we were never able to take them to Disney World. Because that would have been a downer for me when they would want to go sit on a bench instead of watching the parade.
We went on our first big trip to Mexico for my brother’s wedding, At that point, the kids had never been on an airplane even though they ranged from ages 11-7. I could understand that everything was strange-the airport, the transfers, even being in a tropical hotel. I was patient, I slowly tried to introduce them to the idea of ‘relaxing family vacation’ without being a pathetically chirpy version of Julie McCoy. But, I couldn’t help myself. I tried so hard not to have expectations of how the week should play out, but was unsuccessful. I was on a mission to make memories, whether the famjam liked it or not. I pressured them as I tried endlessly to get that perfect family picture on the beach.The one that I’d seen all my friends share. But my effort was a terrible flop. This one didn’t like the sand on his feet, and that one found the ocean too salty, and she didn’t want to be in the picture and it was taking too long and couldn’t she go float in the pool by herself.
They just don’t like to be around a lot of people. They really don’t care for water-lakes, pools, oceans.
They just don’t like me forcing them to have my idea of fun.
And there’s the crux. As I write this I realize that logically, my idea of a good time is not necessarily theirs.
It’s not really their problem. It’s mine.
While I can control a lot, I cannot control what my kids like to do.
But, what I can control is how I react to their Debbie Downer natures. Because when I freak out, it makes it worse. That much I know. They get mad at me. They’re almost adults now, and if I annoy them too much they’ll retreat or worse, protest. My dearth of family photos without one of them making a horrible face is a testament to that. We are going on a cruise over the Christmas Holidays and I’m working hard not to imagine all the great times we’re going to have. It’s hard work for me, but I’m going to try to go without expectations.
I think it’s time I realize that I’m never ever going to win this battle, no matter how upset their behaviour makes me. I can’t guilt or cajole them into being something they’re not. I cannot mother-version peer pressure them into being who I think they should be, and acting how I think they should act. Even if I think they should do anything to make me happy, I cannot change their natures.
I think it’s time I retire my clipboard of fun.
Although don’t you think my kids could meet my halfway and at least pretend…?