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Mom Memories: The Un-Fun Mommy

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When I was a child, I was imaginative, inventive, and enterprising. I loved to write stories, sing songs, recite poetry, and direct elaborate theatrical productions with my brother and cousins. As an adult, I look back on my creative childhood escapades with great fondness, yet now that I am a parent, I am aware of the other side of the curtain. In my fuzzy nostalgic hindsight, I recall that my parents were quite skilled at masking their discomfort with our awkward acting skills and bad jokes. They were, in a word, indulgent. I feel I owe it to my offspring to tolerate their theatrics with the same amount of decorum.

You see, my six-year-old daughter, Izzy, possesses at least as much, if not more, ingenuity, verbosity, and intensity that I had as a child, and I am now forced to relive my childhood genius through the eyes of a spectator. Izzy pours all her energy, not to mention an alarming amount of paper products, into preparing for her special events: concerts, parades, plays, and menus. It is a rare week in our household when we are not invited to a special “restaurant,” “hotel,” or performance of some sort.

May I make a confession? I do not enjoy playing. I am the un-fun parent in our house. I am the Mommy who has no imagination and a limited amount of patience for the messy, time-consuming, and tedious products of my daughter’s creative brain. While I am quite capable of being an audience member, I absolutely loathe the performances that require crowd participation. Words cannot describe how uncomfortable I feel when rallying fake enthusiasm after being summoned “on stage.” And yet, I feel compelled to play along with her games, no matter how irritating, as breaking character to give her a reality check seems tantamount to breaking her spirit.

Throughout my six and a half years as a mother, I have discovered that my children’s antics are often equal parts endearing and annoying. The great dichotomy of motherhood never ceases to amaze me- I can be filled with irritation as my typing is interrupted by yet another invitation to a “special performance,” and then the next moment my eyes are filled with tears when I realize how much effort she put into hand-writing the program.

My worry is that only hindsight will provide me with the clarity and perspective for this fleeting, magical stage of childhood. Even now, though I may grit my teeth as my children’s messy frolicking and shenanigans have caused us to leave the house late, I look back on events that happened a mere six months ago with nostalgia and a distinctly rose-tinted lens. The other day I came across a sloppily scrawled message from my daughter to me, pasted inside a paper heart: “Mommy. You are the bst Mommy evr.” She had given it to me a year ago, when she was five, and I wondered if in that moment, I had realized just how precious a gift it was.

 Guest blogger Stephanie Sprenger is a music therapist, teacher, writer, blogger, and most importantly, the mother of two young daughters. She works part-time teaching early childhood music classes in the metro Denver area, and in her spare time you can find her writing, singing, yoga-ing, and spewing parental angst on her blog, Mommy, for real. (

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  • comment avatar Amber Johnson May 9, 2013

    I think we all have our moments/things that grate on us. I love all the magical, imaginative play but there are a few things I cannot stand, like playing hide-and-go-seek. As in PULEASE don’t make me play another game. But I try to grit my teeth and suffer through it because I know how much they love it. And you’re right–my kids are only 7 and 9 and already I’m looking back on those younger years and thinking how magical they were. You’re only young once for sure!

  • comment avatar Mara May 9, 2013

    dearie, i’ve been there. i used to suffer through hours and hours of puppet shows that drove me nuts. but not that my kids are older and in college, i miss those ages when they were so eager to share their imagination with me. now, i can barely get a piece of their day. i know it’s hard (i remember it will) but it will be gone before you know it.

  • comment avatar Stephanie Sprenger May 9, 2013

    I so appreciate hearing the perspectives of moms who have been there. Sometimes when I am really fed up in the moment, I try to imagine myself twenty years from now. Often that helps me muster up a little more appreciation and affection!

  • comment avatar Kendra May 9, 2013

    I love your confession here. Sometimes I wish all moms shared their confessions on things like this. Then we all might not feel so ashamed or like we are bad mothers for feeling the way we do. Thanks for sharing yours! I’m also not a good “player” with my son. My husband is much better equip for things like that. Thank goodness for him! 😉

  • comment avatar Katia May 9, 2013

    Another wonderful example of great writing! In addition, I completely identify with the feelings you describe here. The irritation and restlessness as you sit through a performance/rocket ship launch/pirate battle instead of writing, along with the warm fuzzies and the fear of not being fully present in the moment and losing this precious memory. You’re a great writer!

  • comment avatar Stephanie Sprenger May 10, 2013

    Kendra and Katia, thanks so much for your kind words! Much appreciated! It’s nice to know that others can relate to what we are going through as mothers!

  • comment avatar Kristi Campbell May 10, 2013

    What you said. What you said so so well. I cannot tell you how guilty I feel about being completely irritated when my little boy asks for another game of chase. They never end and often involve me having to wear a blanket over my head and carry a flashlight. While they are tiring and annoying and boring, I know that someday, when he wants me to drop him off on the corner without a kiss good-bye, that these will be some of the best days of my life. Thank you for the reminder.

    • comment avatar Stephanie Sprenger May 10, 2013

      Thanks, Kristi! I instantly feel better when I remember that my friends experience this irritation too. You’re right- these will likely be some of the best days of our life, and I hope that I can occasionally remember that in the moment, rather than years later as a memory.

  • comment avatar Lori Lavender Luz May 10, 2013

    “I do not enjoy playing.”

    I struggle with guilt about this, too. My mom would play for what seemed like hours with me on the floor, getting into my world. I am so frustrated with myself that I cannot go more than 5 minutes without wanting to get back to my ToDo list.

    Your words about the dichotomy makes me feel both sad and blessed, too. Lovely post, Stephanie. Izzy is right: you are the bst Mommy evr.

    • comment avatar Stephanie Sprenger May 10, 2013

      Aw, Lori, your comment made me feel a little misty. I appreciated hearing that you too feel pulled by your “to-do” list; I am so distracted by mine sometimes that it makes it very difficult to focus on the (possibly inane) activities that my children are pulling me towards. Thank you so much for that.

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  • comment avatar Alan May 15, 2013

    There’s a reason for some of your feelings that I only know about through some research that I had to do on the topic. And it’s that we get both socialized and develop out of our ability to play easily. So this is normal.

    Not to put a gender line on it, but this is a conversation I feel I hear more often among moms than dads. There are certain things that men can’t give as easily as women and that’s ok. I watch my oldest go to his mother for comfort when his feelings are hurt and I’m grateful that he has a pair of parents who can give him what he needs. Because one of us, on our own, probably couldn’t do it.