Not the Fun Parent


Christmas 2019, back when we could interact with people outside of our own bubble, my extended family took a cruise. We were on the shuttle from the airport to the port, and the kids were asking me approximately 4-trillion questions. “Michelle, do you have our passports?” “Michelle, do you have our boarding passes?” “Michelle, do we take our luggage on board with us?” “Michelle, what do we do once we get on board?” It went on for 45 minutes—Forty-five-felt-like-endless-minutes of question after question after question.

Now, let me explain that my immediate family consists of my husband, our two daughters, and myself. My extended family (including us) is 13 people. This shuttle holds MAYBE 20, but that day it was closer to 15. This random woman, after listening to the barrage of questions, finally says, “Michelle, can I have $1,000 and you hold my passport too?” I crack up, then tell her that, for the record, only two of these children are mine! The rest have parents right there on the bus but are directing all their questions at me.

That’s when my nephew pipes up and says, “Well yeah, you’re not the fun parent. You’re the responsible one.”

I take offense at first. I want to be the fun parent. I mean, don’t we all? We want our kids to think we’re fun, right? But in retrospect, I’d much rather be the responsible parent. I’d much rather be the one who worries over things like packing appropriately, having required documents, being where we’re supposed to be when we’re supposed to be there.

But you know what? I’ve learned that I am both the fun and the responsible parent. I’m the fun parent who takes my kids to water parks. I’m the responsible parent who makes sure they have good grades in school. I’m the fun parent who has sleepovers with friends. I’m the responsible parent who makes sure they go to bed at reasonable times during the school week. I’m the fun parent who has spontaneous water or Nerf-gun fights. I’m the responsible parent who makes sure they have every tool available to them in life to succeed.

It is, in fact, possible to be both the fun parent AND the responsible one. And actually, the parent that is somewhere in between is right where I want to be.