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Hell Yeah, I'm Jealous My Husband Gets to Be the Fun Parent

Photograph by Twenty20

At a recent event, Jennifer Garner confessed that when it comes to being the fun parent in her family, ex Ben Affleck has it on lock. The actress is usually in charge of making sure her three children eat healthy, but when Affleck is in charge, an Oreo might slip into the mix.

"I want to be like, 'I like Oreos too! I'm fun too,'" Garner said.

Oh girl, can I relate!

Like a lot of moms, I work but am also the primary caretaker of my two kids. On top of that, I'm the default primary keeper of a clean house as well as the primary maker of all meals. And oh yeah, someone has to get the kids from school and woman the homework. None of those are particularly fun, but they have to get done.

I didn't ask for the jobs and I'm happy to do my part, but being a working mom and the default domestic goddess comes at a cost. Taking care of everyone doesn't exactly leave that much time to spend time with everyone. And my kids definitely notice.

I can be found cleaning up the dishes while my husband is sitting on the couch watching a family movie with the kids.

See, my kids are lucky to have a dad who is dedicated, interested and involved in their lives. But because I'm the mom, and for no other reason than I am the mom, I'm in charge of everything that happens inside the house. And while I'd much rather play Go Fish with my 7-year-old daughter or throw baseballs to my sports-obsessed 10-year-old, most of my "free time" is spent doing un-fun things like shuttling my kids around in the car or doing laundry.

My husband will make himself available to be with the kids during his workday if I have to work, but I can't exactly ask him to cancel a meeting so he can do the laundry. Like a lot of moms, I end up squeezing my work life into the hours my kids are in school or in the evening after they've gone to bed. When there are two parents at home, I can be found cleaning up the dishes while my husband is sitting on the couch watching a family movie with the kids. Fun guy, for the win. Boring mom, for the loss.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking how I could ease up my time so I could be the more fun parent or, at the very minimum, an equally fun one. I haven’t quite figured it out, but I'm trying to recruit the kids to help more with age-appropriate chores and ask my husband to pitch in more.

Since I find myself getting greener with envy over my husband’s "fun guy" status, I’m trying to carve out the fun in motherhood when and where I can. That means sometimes my kid's dinner isn't too elaborate, allowing me to spend less time cooking and more time playing or hanging out. Sometimes I relax the rules I'm usually in charge of enforcing, giving me the opportunity to be the unhealthy food parent or the one who allows too much TV. And I've surrendered some of my own standards about the house to allow me more time to enjoy the people living in it.

The kids don't seem to notice these subtle changes much, but I do. And while my husband is still the resident "fun guy," I’m giving him a run for his money. Just because I'm a mom doesn't mean I can't have fun, too. That laundry can get done another day!

Now pass the Oreos, Jen. The kids can have broccoli tomorrow with their dad.

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