From Friday's Briefing:
I have a new favorite snapshot.
It’s me, Katie and Cooper — a group “selfie” taken with my smartphone in the front yard on Halloween.
Cooper is wearing a straw hat and a checkered, button-down shirt trimmed with strands of raffia. Katie has braided pigtails and a gingham Dorothy Gale dress. I’m sporting a pointy hat and a black dress.
It’s tangible evidence that sometimes I actually am a fun mom.
Most all the time, I am a reliable, responsible, get-things-done mom.
If you’ve got an appointment or a practice, a tutorial or a game, I will get you there on time or find someone who can.
If you need your Scouts uniform washed and dried in the 90-minute window between camping and a meeting, I’m your mom.
If you need help studying for a spelling test or practicing multiplication tables, or if you need ideas for a campaign poster or someone to proofread an essay, I’m your mom.
I am a health-conscious, safety-conscious mom.
I will always remind you to wear a helmet, to look both ways two times before crossing the street, to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and to say no to fast food.
I am a cuddle-on-the- sofa-and-read mom.
If you want to laugh with Anne of Green Gables or the Penderwicks, I’m your mom. If you want to explore Hogwarts or Klickitat Street, settle in.
But a fun mom? Not often, I’m afraid.
I don’t play board games as I often as I’d like. I’m not super spontaneous. I don’t expect I’ll ever be the mom who chaperones kids on late-night toilet-papering escapades.
Though I’ve tried, I still don’t completely understand the world of Minecraft.
During summer months, you’ll find me on a chaise longue more often than you’ll find me playing Marco Polo or practicing cannon balls.
And I never wear costumes.
Except maybe just this once.
My children pleaded year after year and I finally said yes, even though I’m more content to blend in the crowd than to stand out.
This Halloween, after a string of Halloweens in which I disappointed my dramatic, costume-loving daughter, I gave in.
On a whim, I bought a pair of purple-and-black striped tights, marked down to $2. The next day, I found a $3 hat. Those two accessories — plus a simple black dress already in the closet — equaled a costume good enough for Katie. (I drew the line at green face paint.)
On Halloween, after I braided and beribboned Dorothy’s hair and adjusted the scarecrow’s raffia, I made a quick change from schoolteacher clothes to witchy wear.
Dorothy and Scarecrow obliged to photos in the front yard, and then I snapped an arm’s length photo of the three of us.
We left for dinner and trick-or-treating with friends. Throughout the candy-coated night, Katie thanked me at least 10 times for dressing up. She even gave me a freshly acquired fun-sized Heath bar.
Success was declared before 8 p.m. Both children had cavorted with friends and devoured snow cones and cotton candy. They carried baskets heavy with more candy than I’ll ever let them eat (even during my most fun mom moments).
Later that night, as I set aside my pointy hat and peeled off my striped tights, I considered how I might incorporate more fun mom moments into our days — because, you know, I’m not exactly spontaneous.
Then, in a manner mostly uncharacteristic, I stopped worrying. I gave myself permission to be the mom I naturally am — a mom who plans, limits screen time, offers advice as you’re walking out the door, favors books over video games and advises strongly against breaking rules of any kind.
A mom who loves all the time, even when she’s not exactly fun — though she’s got a photo to prove that sometimes she is.
Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.