You’re The Fun One

18 Apr

letter This weekend UnDorkMommy said something to me that broke my heart.

First, a little context:

Three days earlier I came home late as I always do on Wednesdays, just as the kids were finishing up books and snuggles before bed. We’ve recently been edging ever closer to finishing “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” (remember, you can’t watch the movie unless you’ve read the book first). They can taste the finishline (and a new movie to watch), so they’ve been extra-special excited about bedtime reading lately. On Wednesdays UnDorkMommy has to handle the bedtime routine alone, and of course part of that is reading books to the big kids. We got the kids all tucked in and sat down to touch base as husband and wife. “So, how was your day teaching?” she asked.

Finishing up "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"

Finishing up “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”

“Fine, fine,” I replied. “Were the kids good tonight? How far did you get in Harry Potter?”

“We didn’t read Harry Potter. We read something else.”

“Really? Why not?”

She looked at me with disapointment in her eyes. “They told me they don’t want me to read Harry Potter to them anymore because I don’t do the voices like you do.”

***

For a little more context, fast forward to this Saturday:

This weekend was the local Mountain Bike Fair. We live in an outdoorsy place, so mountain bikes are kindof a big thing. It’s the sort of place where parents post on facebook “Just took Jr. for his/her first time on the pump track!” (For those people out of the know, a pump track is a dirt track with mounds, and moguls and banks etc). There’s a bike store near our house with some amazing pump tracks out back for all levels. We pass by the tracks whenever the family goes hiking and I’ve used the pump track as an incentive for the kids to learn how to ride their bikes.

“As soon as you’re good enough on your bike, I’ll take you to the pump track.”

Six or Seven months ago Episode IV finally got off her training wheels, and we’ve been working on getting her competence and confidence up to pump track levels. A few weeks ago Episode V finally got off his training wheels and we’ve been practicing out at the park every opportunity we get. To spur his interest and get him motivated I took him out to the Mountain Bike Fair to watch the pros go flying into the air X-games-style. I expected we’d be there about 30 minutes before his attention span puttered out and we’d be off to the next thing.

Nope.

So. Freaking. Rad.

So. Freaking. Rad.

It was like walking into Disneyland for the first time. We weren’t there for 5 minutes before he spotted the bunny-hill pump track just for little kids that they built specifically for this event. That was that. We walked back to the car, got his bike out of the back and three hours later we’d watched the pro aeronautics, gone on the kids’ pump track (twice), ridden a real off-road trail, checked out all the vendors, sat on a hay bale eating pizza and popsicles watching a racing event, and acquired some impressive sunburns. In short, it was amazing! He even got a medal. Episode V and I came home totally pumped (no pun intended), totally exhausted and totally overstimulated.

“OhmygoddidyouseethewaythoseguysflewintheairIcan’tbelieveyoudidthepump-trackforthefirsttimewasn’titawesomeIcan’twaittogodoitagain!!!”

We spent the second half of Saturday at the park with the whole family. The two big kids practiced off-roading on their bikes with me coaching and cheering them on, and UnDorkMommy spent most of her energy keeping Episode VI from eating sand and getting run over by his older siblings. By the end of the day everyone was exhausted, and all three kids went to bed relatively easily. After Episode IV was asleep, my wife came down the hall and walked up behind me as I was checking my Email. She put her hand on my shoulder. I could tell something was weighing on her heart. That’s when she said it.

“You know, sometimes it’s really tough” she said, a tremor in her voice. “…keeping up with you. Sometimes it’s really hard. You’re the fun one. I just can’t compete with that”

I had absolutely no idea what to say.

I wanted to say something comforting, something reassuring. I love her so much. I could appreciate how she was feeling, and how an idea like that could hurt once it took root. I wanted to be there for her – to say something meaningful that would put her at ease, reaffirm how amazing she is, how amazing and important she is to the kids. I should have been able to do that for her. But the words… the idea behind them… and the notion that I could be the root of that pain…

I fumbled.

There is no way anyone could describe UnDorkMommy as anything other than “fun”. She’s incredibly fun. She just isn’t a dork. She has no idea how to be a dork. It just isn’t in her DNA. Before we had kids she used to make fun of me and say “Man, you are a dork!”

And I used to respond with, “Yep. But someday our kids are really going to appreciate it.” It would seem that perhaps that prophecy has come true.

Sorry, kids. This is your daddy.

Sorry, kids. This is your daddy.

Let’s be clear, my wife is the most important, most amazing, most crucial element of this entire family. When I’m off figuring out how to get an arcade game into my house, she’s the one making sure the kids are having a healthy lunch. When I’m spending my time writing blog posts, she’s the one arranging their extracurricular schedules. She’s the one who makes sure they have a sweater when they leave the house. She’s the one who makes the sandwiches for their lunch just the way they like ’em. She’s the one who plans and makes dinners every night. She’s the one who gets them on time to doctor’s appointments, and swim lessons, and play dates. She’s the one who makes sure the milk in the fridge isn’t sour. She’s the one who makes sure their bedsheets are clean, that they take their medicine and that they play nicely with one another.

She’s the last person the kids want to see before they go to sleep. She’s the first person they want to see when they wake up. If they have a bad dream in the middle of the night, it’s her body they need to feel next to theirs that makes the monsters go away (and all that stuff goes for me as well).

Sure, I’m the one who does the epic lego marathons. I’m the one who knows all the words to all the Disney songs. I’m the one who does the lightsaber fights and dances to “Gungnam Style” in the livingroom. But when there’s a scrape on the knee, it’s her kisses that have the healing magic. On a rainy day it’s the cookies she makes that turn everything around. When someone is sick, it’s her arms they crawl into for comfort. She is the rock-center, the core, the heart of our family. She nourished those children in her belly. She birthed them. She nursed them as infants from her own body. She dedicates every waking moment to nurturing them as children and to helping them grow into compassionate, confident, amazing human beings.

How can I compete with that?

The truth is all this dorkiness, all this childlike buffoonery… it’s all for show.

I’m a dancing bear at the circus making a fool of myself in front of my children because — That’s. All. I’ve. Got.

It’s a desperate act to be relevent in the lives of my kids because ultimately the short-lived sugar rush of dessert isn’t what sustains you the way Mommy’s healthy meal does. It isn’t what keeps you alive. Sure, I have my role to play in nurturing our children. Sure, their lives are enriched because I’m demostrative, I’m involved in their lives and I’m totally invested in the family. Yes, their lives are immeasurably better because I love them so much.

But compared to the absolutely crucial, nourishing, healthy, dependable, selfless love that they get from their mother — the nourishment that none of us in this family, myself included, could live without — I have to put on the superhero T-shirts. I have to build the zip-lines in the backyard. I have to make the Transformer Halloween costumes from scratch. I have to do the voices when I read Harry Potter.

Because in all honesty, compared to my wife, I just can’t compete.

mommy

-Dork Dad

24 Responses to “You’re The Fun One”

  1. zeudytigre April 18, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

    In this house, they don’t get pudding every night, but when they do it is from Daddy. Mummy is the boring and sensible one making sure that they eat their fruit and veg and get the homework done. I have to do what I do because I love them so much. I do wonder if that will count for anything when they look back and consider what mattered.

  2. sarahwriteshere2010 April 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

    I’m not one to fawn over kittens or other such cute things but this reads like a love letter to your wife. It’s very touching, she isn’t the only woman who will appreciate that this message was written.

    • dorkdad April 18, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

      Thank you. That was my intention. You’re always more articulate after you’ve had the better part of the day to think about things.

      …that, and you can never write your wife enough love letters.

  3. Matt April 18, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

    What a moving post. Makes me want to rush home and do something to let my wife know how much I appreciate her (except I don’t know what that thing is, because you’ve made me realize I don’t know what could fully express it).

  4. Lillypetals April 18, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    Beautiful post. I think that is a fear/reality a lot of mothers face. We (women) are often so hardwired to do the caring for all the little things the children in our lives need, it is easy to get jealous or feel “less than” when you when it seems our partner gets to have all the fun.

    I am not going to claim to know if this is accurate for your relationship, but I know sometimes a good way to show solidarity when she is feeling this way is to take an afternoon (or whenever) in which you are the one taking care of what “needs” done (keeping the infant from getting run over) while mommy gets to go ride off with the bigger kids.

    Either way, this was a beautiful post and it almost brought a tear to my eye.
    I love your family’s love.

    • dorkdad April 18, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

      We try to switch it up for each other. I don’t want to be the dad that doesn’t “care” for his kids. But we all have our strengths…

  5. myplace2spu April 18, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    What a lovely post and it just shows what a strong foundation your family has. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Anonymous April 18, 2013 at 5:35 pm #

    There is no greater gift you can give your children than loving their mother as much as you obviously do.

  7. yayangebm April 18, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    Reblogged this on yayangebm15 and commented:
    I like it

  8. Lisa Shaw April 18, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

    Your wife gives your children roots, you give them wings. A perfect combination. You and she are both lucky people, but the real winners in your family are your kids.

    Lovely post.

  9. pooponmyhands April 18, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    You are such an awesome daddy. I know how your wife feels. In fact I wrote an entire blog post on it myself. I do all the “mommy” business for my daughter and my husband has all the fun with her. True I have fun too, but when she gets daddy, it is a treat. I am her bread and butter. He is her ice cream Sunday.

  10. braith an' lithe April 19, 2013 at 1:19 am #

    Not that it should be a competition, but I’m sure many of us have felt that way at times. And it’s one of those common ‘gendered divisions of labour’, ain’t it – lynchpinmummy and funtimesdad. Payback time for those mums, and the dads who feel they don’t have enough goofy-fun-dork in them, often comes with adolescence, when guess who becomes more embarrassing? And gets more of the eyerolling ‘OMG, you are such a DORK / drop me off a block early so my friends don’t see you / if Annabel comes to stay, will you promise not to speak to her / wear That Shirt..’ etc. Not that lynchpinmummy will actually get any kudos at that stage. But then if you’ve done it right (and it sounds like y’all are doing great), when they’re in their twenties and know lots of people with awful childhoods (or maybe when they’re in their thirties and have their own kids), they will turn round and tell you both how amazing you were. And then you BOTH get to be goofy with the grandchildren. 🙂

  11. Kami Tilby April 19, 2013 at 3:37 am #

    Aw….that was one of the best blog posts I’ve ever read. I kid you not! You need to publish this as a mother’s day card or gift book. Seriously. So straight-on perfectly explained and wonderfully mushy and honest. What a beautiful wife and family you have. I just want to hug you all. Sweet! Well said!

  12. bernicky April 19, 2013 at 5:03 am #

    Learn to do all the stuff you wife does and to do it well. Let her be the fun one on occasion – she remembers how she doesn’t get to practice it as much just as you don’t get to practice being the non-dorkdaddy. Years as a stay at home dad and now as a widower have taught that we need to know more than just the surface of what our partners in life do, we have to be able to do what out partners do otherwise not only are we incomplete but our children grow up with a vision of “how things ought to be” that could have been lifted from a script of Happy Days. Just my two cents.

    BTW nice post.

  13. Dounia April 19, 2013 at 7:18 am #

    I may not have anything very insightful to say as I’m not a parent yet, but I see how much my parents love each other and how much they love us, and that’s what matters most. Growing up, a lot of times dad was the ‘fun’ one because he had a silly sense of humor, but we also laughed a lot with mom. And both were good for cuddles – it just depended on the reason for the cuddles 🙂 Now that we’re older, we appreciate even more what they both did for us – together, and as individual parents.

    This was a beautiful post. I followed your blog because I am constantly touched by the honest and loving way you write about your family. This was no exception. It warmed my heart and almost brought tears to my eyes. I hope to be as eloquent whenever writing about my husband and, in the future, about my children.

  14. larva225 April 19, 2013 at 9:28 am #

    You have summed up probably every 2 parent household. There are positives and negatives to both roles. It is hard being “unfun” all the time, but I hate the look on my husband’s face when he’s shunned after a scraped knee.
    Let’s keep it in perspective: we will all no doubt be equally loathed during their teens.

  15. Diana April 19, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    I LOVE this post. Made me teary. I wish everyone respected their wives for all they do in this way. It is beautiful and I assure you, these feelings toward her are what nourishes her.

  16. Starzia April 19, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    Brought a tear to my eye. 🙂

  17. my27stars April 19, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    This doesn’t weigh on me as much with Doodle still being little, but I am definitely starting to see him wanting to do the fun rough play that makes him laugh the most with dad and dad alone. Jake will say things to me like “Does he play like this with you? Does he want you to make these funny noises? Does he want you to throw him all the time? Does he want to play video games with you this much?” No, every time. But then Doodle will say something to Jake that will totally blow him away or melt his heart with sweetness. He’ll spell “bed” or “ship” on the fridge with his letter magnets or he’ll kiss Jake’s knee or shoulder when he gets off work from a rough day and starts rubbing out the kinks. “Wow! Have you seen him do that? Did you know he could do this?” Yes, every time, he’s been doing it for a few weeks.
    I’m boring because I’m always here, his sole playmate more often than not. Jake gets the luxury of excited “Daddy!”s when he gets home from work and he tries to get in as much Daddy-Doodle time to make up for the lack of it, but I have to recognize that he misses out on so much by providing for us, and he deserves to be for Doodle as much of an amazingly awesome and cool dad as he can possibly be as often as possible. And I know that I can sit back on the sidelines while superdad does his fun thing, and it’s ok. I’m still mom, I still see new skills first, I still kiss those owies, and I still soak up so much more Doodle time than Jake can. Although dad does make the better sandwiches. 😉
    I’m sure she recognizes how important and stellar she is, but it does wear on a mama to only have one part and not the other, just like it probably wears on a dad to have so much of the other than the one. It’s beautiful that you recognize what she does and how crucial she is.

  18. kjysten April 22, 2013 at 3:57 pm #

    What a wonderful tribute. Just remember you are equally as important to those kids. And you BOTH have fun with them, just different kinds.
    As you might guess, I was the zany, weird, sci fi addicted Mom – and the caretaker, but Chuck was the rock that held us safe and firm. The girls were very careful not to let Dad know of their minor problems (usually with boys) because they knew “he’d kill anyone who hurt them.” Maybe not as fun – but surely the strongest.
    You each have your part to play and the kids will be eternally grateful to you – and probably raise their kids the same way. :>

  19. Kami Tilby April 27, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    Just reblogged this on http://kamisbeautifulmorning.wordpress.com so that other’s can enjoy your wonderful writing and insight!!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. You’re The Fun One | Dorkdaddy.com (Reblogged Just for You) | Kami's Beautiful Morning - April 27, 2013

    […] You’re The Fun One | Dorkdaddy.com. […]

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    […] daughter is a girl growing up in a boy’s world. I try not to eclipse my wife’s influence with the kids, but let’s be honest – the beacon of my nerdiness shines a little (a […]

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