Coming out as a bored parent.
I hear a lot about how parenting is full of love, heart ache, and exhaustion. It tries your patience, grows your heart, and puts hair on your chest. What I don’t hear about is how boring it can all be.
I take my kid on outdoorsy adventures. We do arts and crafts. Not pinterest-worthy, but I give her time to mess around with paints, crayons, play-doh, etc. We cook. We read. We play. And, sometimes I’m totally in it. I can watch her be curious, fascinated, and open to learning about the world around her and I just love every moment of it.
And sometimes, I am just plain bored out of my mind. Everything moves so slowly. Everything is repetitive. She does most things the way a person new to being a person would do things: sorta wrong, very slow, and messy. I can muster patience. But interest is hard to feign.
I once posted on a parenting facebook group (I know. That right there was my mistake) about the boredom of parenthood. I didn’t ask for advice. I stated how parenting sometimes made me feel. The comments were...annoying. Many parents telling me that parenting is what you make of it. Telling me to enjoy my child. Enjoy the scenery. Pick up a book (I am dying to meet the toddler that allows you to read more than 2 pages). Or telling me they never felt bored. The comments I got made it seem like feeling bored was wrong. And, all I received was advice. What I really needed was a yeah, me too.
And then, I felt it. That pang of guilt. I had been judged when I was looking for support. As a result, I felt like I was doing it wrong. I wasn’t enjoying my child enough. I wasn’t taking it in enough. I wasn’t good at parenting.
Here’s the deal: my child does not require that my adult brain be stimulated by the things that stimulate her toddler brain. She doesn’t need me to be interested in her toys or activities. She needs me to be interested in her. And she is wholly captivating to me. And not just to my brain. But my whole heart is all in. And that is what she needs most of all.
I get to stare off into space during the ten minutes it takes for my child to partially dress herself independently. I get to be bored out of my mind while reading the same book for the zillionth time. Being bored doesn’t mean I’m not interested in my child. I couldn’t be more fascinated. But, many of the tasks of parenting are by nature repetitive and dull. I get to be bored. And I get to talk about it. And, so do you.
So, here’s to you. You who spends some part of your day with glazed over eyes. It’s ok. This stuff, it is truly boring as computer paper. We are the ones who watch paint dry. Who watch an incredibly slow, subtle process unfold every step of the way. And we’re there, watching. And that is what matters. Love is the thing that keeps our eyes open.