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I’m Not the Entertainment, but I Still Want to Have Fun

The day was wide open before us. And by wide open I mean we didn’t have school. We
were no longer tethered to packing lunches and getting to the bus stop. No longer
slaves to homework calendars and after-school activities. It was a day off. We should
celebrate!

My mind began racing with ideas.

We could go to that new science museum. Or maybe we should head to the movies.
No, save those for a rainy day. Hmmm….the beach? The park? Or maybe a picnic at
the park followed by ice cream at the beach? There was no shortage of possibilities.
My kids barely noticed me, happy to start their day void of the typical structure. They
may have felt relaxed, basking in their newfound freedom. I, on the other hand, was
busy figuring out how to make the day magical.

I had pictures in my mind of what the other parents would be doing with their kids. I
scolded myself for not thinking ahead to have the kids invite friends over so they could
come to enjoy the day of fun I was spinning in my mind. Oh, well. I could still make the
day magical for my three.

And then I tripped over the laundry pile on my way to feed the dogs.

Looking around I saw all the things that still had to be done. The beds to be made, the
dirty dishes piled in the sink, the work email notifications on my phone. School may
have ended, but real life didn’t. There was a tug-of-war going on in my head between
the magic I expected myself to create and the real-life things that had to get done.
I felt defeated and wondered why I was fighting at all.

Somehow I had developed an expectation that life was a great big Instagram feed for
the world to see. This feed represented who I am, but also who I want to be, who I think
others want me to be, and who I can never be. In all the headlines telling me how to
“Create a Magical Summer” and “Make Memories that Last a Lifetime” I began running
faster and faster on a hamster wheel of creating a magical childhood for my kids.
The truth is: magic isn’t real. It’s all about illusions.

Just like I am never going to be five foot eight and size two (no matter how high the
heels and how tight the Spanx), I’m never going to entertain my kids 24/7. Even the
thought is exhausting.

I want to do fun things with my kids, but not at the expense of living life, real life. They
need to see that there is a balance between fun and normal, or better yet, a melding of
the two. And while I may be able to lead them that way, I can’t navigate the whole way
for them.

If I want them to grow up to be more than consumers of this beautiful world, I need to
give them the chance to live in it, contribute to it, and be part of it. We are not
spectators, but we are contributors, active participants in creating a life we love. And
this means doing things that don’t make the Instagram feed.

I look around and see them. One is plugged in to an audiobook, one is playing a video
game and one is heading out on a scooter. They are content for the moment, so I permit
myself to be content. I know that the moment won’t last forever, and as I exhale I think
about what needs to happen and what we want to happen.

The day is a day. It is magical simply because it exists. There will be laundry to fold
today. And they will help. But if we do that right after lunch we can grab an ice cream
and head to the park.

We can find moments of magic in ordinary days.

It is not my job to entertain my kids. And they shouldn’t be entertained all day. We can,
however, find ways to have fun in real life. To have beach days and home days. To
have chore times and break times. To do nothing and to do something amazing.
Summer isn’t about endless entertaining. It’s simply about enjoying the moments and
living life along the way.

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