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On not being boring

By Heather Oman

An old friend joined FB this week. I’m a little bit addicted to FB, and so when I saw his name pop up on another friend’s wall, I sent him a friend request. His response was polite but the message was clear–he was glad I was doing well, but we were not going to be FB friends.

I shot a message to a mutual friend about it, basically shrugging and saying, ‘I tried’, and this friend said something along the lines of, “That’s okay. He’s boring. We’re more fun anyways”.

And I wondered. Am I? Fun, I mean? Or am I just a cliche?

I mean, let’s take what I did yesterday. I’m a stay at home mom with one child at home, and she’s 4. Which means that she’s old enough to get her own breakfast, but young enough to spill it. Old enough to play by herself, but young enough to want me to play with her. Old enough to go potty, but young enough that she might not flush all the time, or she might do something creative with her toilet paper. In short, she’s old enough to not really need me every minute of the day, but young enough to still need me paying a modicum of attention to her.

To fill the days she’s not at preschool, we used to do soccer twice a week. That didn’t work out, so we now have our Tuesdays and Thursdays utterly open and free. You’d think that would the time I would be able to make up creative and exciting things to stimulate her mind and mine, but I confess, yesterday I mostly spent way too much time catching up on Downton Abby while she built towers out of playdough containers and poured cold cereal from one container to the next.

Not exactly exciting, or fun. Actually, the day was kind of… boring. (shhhhhhhhhh, don’t say it out loud)

And the idea of a stay at home mom sitting in her unmade bed watching what is essentially a high brow soap opera (at least I think it’s highbrow–I mean, they have those cool accents and everything) is SUCH a cliche, it makes me cringe. I did take my daughter to a play area in the afternoon to blow off steam, and we had a busy evening when my son got home from school and the after school schedule kicked into gear, but the truth is, right now my days with my daughter are slow. And I know that this is a good time, and I’m certainly not complaining, because I do know how short-lived these days will be.

I’m just worried that in the process of becoming a home-maker (something I’m not really very good at anyways. Just ask the pile of clean laundry stacked on my bedroom floor) I’ve become…boring.

And while boring isn’t the worst thing in the world (right? Or is it?), it still isn’t exactly something I ever aspired to be. And I’m not even complaining that my life is boring, because it isn’t. My life is rich and full. I just wonder if I, as a person, would be recognizable from the girl who once sang on stage with an East Germany grunge band in an old burned out weapons factory.

That was an interesting day.

Are you a fun person? And how do you keep it that way?

About Heather Oman

(Prose Board) lives in the south with her husband, her two kids, and her wiggly black lab. She is a licensed speech language pathologist, but spends most of her days trying to teach her own kids how to say please and thank you. She is a member of the Segullah Editorial Board, and is the founding member of the blog Mormon Mommy Wars.

32 thoughts on “On not being boring”

  1. I feel exactly the same way! Only my kids are all in school now, so I don't have the excuse of a child at home to pretend that I'm doing stimulating and educational things all day. I want to be home for my kids when they get home, and to be here so I can be flexible, but I feel so dull! I'd LOVE to hear what other people say!

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  2. I hear ya. I just blogged about what I do versus what I like to do. I think that as SAHM there is so much that we need to do it becomes hard to prioritize time for the things we really like to do.

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  3. You should read The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. She started this year long project of chasing happiness b/c of an epiphany she had one day in which she realized how "blah" she was feeling about a lot of things–tremendously blessed but like she was watching her life go by. It's a pretty interesting book and has some good ideas for making more of the life you are given.

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  4. Nope, I'm not a fun person. But that's not one of my goals either. I don't need to be fun or unusual. I do, however, need to be engaged in something I enjoy and that also requires effort and some ingenuity. It doesn't have to be something that anyone else thinks is interesting or unusual or remarkable or ingenious. Sometimes it is simply creativity applied to my daily work.

    So, yeah, feeling boring when you are watching TV is a reasonable feeling. Many things that require no work are enjoyable. And respite is good for the soul. But such work-free times need to be interspersed with lots of work and creativity if you are to avoid feelings of blahness.

    Think outside the preschool box, engage your four year old or tag her along as you pursue creative work or exploration or problem solving, even if it's sometimes no more than highly creative unusual out-of-the box solutions to laundry folding.

    My mother was passionate about art and education, she prepped us with art post cards us and dragged us to museums and plastered our walls with timelines. My dad was passionate about tennis and carpentry and taught us both. And they constantly read about, thought about and experimented with many, many creative solutions to the ever changing challenges of keeping a household going.

    Tackle your life situation with a good dose of work and effort in the areas that you find interesting in life, not limiting yourself to the usual neighborhood options (soccer, story hour, etc). Because you are tackling it with a four year old along for the ride, it will take a different form than it would if you were single, but it will be "fun".

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  5. Am I the only one who can't get over the Facebook anecdote? I've never had someone flat out tell me they won't be my Facebook friend! I thought the polite thing was to accept the request and then quietly unfriend later!

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  6. My husband is out of town this week and my 2 girls and I are snowbound. And yeah, we're bored and boring and loving it. They watch TV and YouTube and I chase travel deals online. I feel a little guilty, but who cares. I've read 2 books and it's only Wednesday. I did go to choir rehearsal last night and ended up abandoning my car at the foot of the hill and walking a mile home at midnight on the snowy, deserted street. Boring brings beautiful surprises sometimes. Maybe we should substitute the word "peaceful" for our boring lives.

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  7. I heard someone say once "If you're bored, that means you're boring." So I guess as long as you are doing something you like to do, then it's not boring, or you're not boring, or…anyway.

    There's nothing wrong with a 4 year old pouring from one cup to another – that's practicing fine motor skills and someday she won't spill the milk so often. Totally not boring!

    Maybe this comment is boring…. šŸ™‚

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  8. […] Today I cheered a comment on FB that said something like, “Yay for sleeping through the night and using the potty!” This IS an exciting time in a mother’s life, and I feel the excitement. But then I think, Oh my goodness we are a boring bunch. Are mothers boring? Is motherhood just sort of a boring time? My mother once told me she complained of boredom to her sister after she had her first child, and my aunt replied, “That’s okay. You can handle a decade of boring, can’t you?” Come over and tell me what you think about boring, and if you’re NOT boring, please tell me how you stay funky, over at Segullah […]

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  9. I just joined FB recently and will admit to wondering if all the friends I hadn't spoken to in years would think my life was boring…

    I had to surrender my SAHM life a few years ago to rejoin the workforce. This should make me more exciting and interesting, right?? Not really. My job is just a job. It's not my passion or life's dream, but it pays the bills and keeps shoes on my kid's feet. But after surviving the drama of divorce and life-overhaul, ordinary and boring don't seem quite so bad. šŸ™‚

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  10. Being the "mom" is a lot of different adjectives, boring isn't one of them.
    When my kids were little (pre technology of any kind it seems) and I felt constrained, I threw all 5 of them in the car and headed for L.A. or San Diego, or any other city at least two hours away.
    I was the horrible mom who pulled her kids out of school to go to the Getty, to see the Tar Pits, to see an IMAX film, or just go to the beach. Sometimes we'd just drive into neighborhoods to see different people other then who we lived next to, eat from a food stand, buy a soda from a store where no one spoke English.
    Hubby was out of town/state 90% of the time, so if I wanted to explore or shop they had to come with me.
    Get yourself organized, be consistent, then leave. Go. Drive somewhere you've never been and get lost. Spend the day doing something weird and unusual, learn something you never thought you would. Break the rules a little and make "school" where you find it that day.

    As far as comparing lives with anyone on line, really? Why do you do that?

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  11. I wish so badly I could be that bored!

    Moms who only mom can indeed be a snooze. Just like engineers who ONLY engineer, and that is all they have to talk about, make people want to cry. Ditto to athletes who cannot converse on any other subject. I admit that when I hear SAHMs talk only about kids stuff for more than an hour, I do kind of think "get a life."

    Because as a single working parent I can't really have one and they can and they're not even doing it! You CAN take that pottery class–your hubby is a built in babysitter. You CAN fly to Philadelphia for a get away with a high school friend just to hit some museums because, again, you have that other parent to watch the kids and a disposable income. You CAN spend 3 hours a day dreaming up, shopping for, and creating a dinner like nobody has ever seen. You CAN take your little one with you down to the refugee center to teach that English class to the moms there who also bring their kids. You CAN go to a movie. Do it. For me.

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  12. I can't believe no one else has commented on Downton Abbey. Ok, maybe it's not the focus of the original post, but still… I was completely sucked in from the beginning and watched all of Season 1 and Season 2 (including the Christmas special) in one week. My 9 year old son watched some of Season 2 with me, and when it was all over he said hopefully, "I haven't seen Season 1 yet."

    It sounds like you're happy with life, just wondering how other people will perceive it. How could it be boring? You're a famous blogger! šŸ™‚

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  13. I remember one day going to visit my mom and my brother was there too. He was complaining about being tired from staying up all night working on some important architecture project. I said, "Oh yeah? I'm tired too, but it's because I've been growing a HUMAN BEING inside me for the last 7 months." Yeah, he shut up pretty quickly.

    I am a firm believer that your life is what you make it. You can choose to see the boring, or you can appreciate the daily surprises that inevitably come with motherhood, like my 2-year-old trying to hold open the screen door for me and yelling, "NO door! Mommy COMING!!"

    As other commenters have said, I also think that you should always have some kind of a project in the works- for me I try to do things that will better myself. I participated in the filming of a documentary, I learned how to shoot a gun, I've written magazine articles, I opened an etsy shop. My goal is to have something to say in our annual Christmas letter that's more than "I spent a lot of time driving the kids around to their activities and helping them with homework." šŸ˜‰

    And by the way, peaceful is good. To everything there is a time and a season.

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  14. I'm with KJ–we could still be boring even with "regular" jobs. If we all had jobs outside the home, we'd still have to depend on OURSELVES to make ourselves interesting.

    I like to quilt and I like to read. So I've made friends with others who quilt passionately and I joined a book club. To them, I'm not boring. Maybe to someone outside looking in, but I'm happy being "popular" among my own little group. šŸ™‚

    I do try to challenge myself doing new things, and I love taking my kids along with me to do stuff when I get up the energy to do so.

    Hang in there. We're all fighting the good fight, doing our best.

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  15. Oh how I miss those boring days!! Trust me they don't last long, so I say enjoy them and DO NOT feel guilty. I would suggest that you find a hobby or interest that is outside of your comfort zone, make an effort to create things or ideas. I had to go back to work when my youngest started school and then I added grad school to the mix. I haven't had a boring day in a long time. But I did reward myself with a bit of Downton after doing homework all Sunday. Good show!

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  16. I am wondering…how many women out there with full time jobs think that their jobs (and days) are glamorous and fascinating?
    Just thinking about a book my mother in law gave me years ago called Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelsohn. Mendelsohn says that she grew up thinking she'd become a homemaker, but somehow ended up as a lawyer instead. And she says when you think of tedious tasks, lawyers win hands down.

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  17. I'm not comparing my life with other people's lives–I'm comparing my life with my own, with the person I used to be and the person I am now. I don't think my life is boring–like I said, I think my life is rich and full. I think *I* might be boring. That's entirely different. Or at least, in my own mind it is. I might be stretching things a bit, though.

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  18. I bet if I put two words or phrases in front of you you could write a good essay about it. You're good at putting interesting right there on the page. So if I said, say, "Aunt Rosemary. Cake," you could totally run with it.

    And I want to read the book when you do!

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  19. Boo to meanness, even on FB…and yes, I think that was mean. Yeah to Dowington Abbey and introspection and bravery and humor and good writing. Love using peaceful instead of boring. Love to hear about your Aunt Rosemary some day…

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  20. I stay at home with my three year old, and I totally relate! My older daughter is in Kindergarten. I really am not a very good homemaker. I love that I can stay home with my daughter, but I feel a bit boring at times. I treasure this time, but it is slow some days just going to the park or story time at the library. I want to get back into acting, but it is still challenging to put both of them to bed, and my husband has to travel sometimes. I remind myself that this time is short, and I'll have time to become more interesting when the kids are more independent.

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  21. Barb, I had a similar surprise at the FB anecdote. I personally accept all comers. (But Heather's follow-up comment clarified it for me.)

    When I come home from work, I end up watching a lot of TV, but I'm perfectly happy with that. My job is intellectually demanding, and I like to veg a little bit and let my brain rest.

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  22. I may not be coming from the same situation, but I often think that boredom may be one of our most under-appreciated virtues. If we refuse to reconcile ourselves with it, what guarantee do we have that we won't leave ourselves wanting more and more–something we cannot have, even when we have enough. Most of my day is boring; a few moments are anxiety-ridden; a few moments are jaw-dropping beautiful; and I think that's OK; I live a wonderful life. The question is not to be bored or not to be bored, but instead what to do with it once we are bored.

    I heard someone once say that they bore quickly–on purpose, because they want to keep learning and doing new things. Regardless, maybe it starts with recognizing that I'm OK with the fact that most of life is boring.

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  23. I second everyone who loves Downton Abbey–it may be a high brow soap, but who cares? I haven't watched TV this addicting in years :). It's fun to be sucked into an escapist fantasy–as an Anglophile, it doesn't get much better than this.

    In terms of moms being boring, I wonder if we are really more boring, or if we are just more comfortable with letting the boring parts show. I wonder if some of the things we did as younger people were primarily to show other people how not-boring we are. I just remember feeling sometimes like I was very deliberately choosing things to be involved in, music to listen to, clothes to wear, etc. not only based on what I liked, but also based on the image I was trying to project so I could be friends with and date other fun, interesting people. I may not be normal in this, but I've noticed that some of my single friends seem to also choose to do things based on the story they will be able to tell about it rather than doing it because they think it'll be such an intrinsiclly fun thing to do. Now as a mom, I know what I like, I know what I don't like, and I don't feel like I need to impress anyone else with how cool I am. It feels good to be comfortable with myself. Although, that said–it is fun to have at least some activities in my life that give me that "I'm so cool and interesting" feeling (since laundry, dishes and driving kids around to all their activities don't exactly do it for me).

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  24. I think I am more bored now that I am at home, especially with my one kid in all day school, then I ever was at work. Work would get dull, but there were people to talk to, problems to solve, and someone else had to clean the bathroom.

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  25. Maybe it's my age or the number of kids I have (5), but I don't do boring anymore. There's always too much to do. So even though I'm a SAHM, with a 2 yo and 5 yo at home during the day, if I'm watching tv, I'm either exercising or folding laundry, then I'm off to tackle the million other things on my list, including finishing an oil painting (fun) or paying bills (not as fun).

    But I remember earlier days like yours when I spent the entire day reading a book (Work and the Glory, Wheel of Time…a book a day) and paid only half attention to the kids and the messy house (my poor husband!). Or when the kids were a bit older and I fumbled around trying to keep them busy and made more of an effort to excel at my chosen profession (still not that great at it).

    I call being a SAHM being http://www.qualityoflifecontrolmanager.blogspot.com.

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  26. "f Iā€™m watching tv, Iā€™m either exercising or folding laundry,"

    Or darning socks, cutting out a sewing pattern, preparing food for canning, or a bunch of other things on the long list. Or lying on the couch all day barfing with morning sickness or nursing a baby in a growth spurt, which is part of baby production.

    I don't know how to say this without coming across as judgmental, which I am not, really. If you feel good about spending the day reading or watching TV, that's up to you and your spouse.

    For me, it would be a breach of contract, and my husband would have every right to be upset that he is working hard at his paid job while I am watching television. Our deal is that we both work. It's just for many years I worked at home, and the paycheck has happened to have his name on it. But I appreciate that other couples have other arrangements.

    Not everything that I do during the day has to be for the good of the family. He likes his work, so it's fine if I do something productive for myself like learn another language or do a craft project. And of course we all need some downtime–even in a paid job, you get breaks and a lunchtime. But excessive watching TV or reading is not a way that I would feel comfortable using my stewardship.

    My "list"? Our house is not new and we've lived here for a while so there is always something to paint or replace. Managing our finances takes some effort. Our gardening season is longer than in some areas. There are lots of service opportunities in the ward. Of course everyone has a different list, and that is the joy of homemaking, that each of us can do it differently, based on our talents and the family needs.

    In the current USAmerican economic climate where only a small percentage of employers offer a defined-benefit retirement plan, most moms with children nowadays are going to need to return to paid work once the children are grown. Thanks to our longer life expectancies and ever-increasing retirement age, most of us will have 20 years of productivity after the kids are grown. So getting ready to make that transition can also be good use of time while kids are napping or playing. I took distance-learning college courses, learned software.

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  27. Boredom is an aspect of modern life that has been vilified. I mean the extra time I use to (of course) watch Downton Abbey and catch up on my favorite blogs is all time that is given to me by modern technology…aka my washer & dryer, my dishwasher, and my vacuum. Yes, if it weren't for these things and the grocery store, I'd be spending my ENTIRE day doing things like milking a cow and scrubbing shirts out over a washboard. Really, modern convenience allows me to have free-time as a mother. But I think for me the biggest thing is to remember that there is a difference between being bored…and being a boring person. Sometimes I will be bored, I just accept that fact like I accept the fact that sometimes I will be hungry or tired. There is absolutely NO reason that I need to be Boring, though. Yes, I may spend my day doing some rather boring things (like watching Care Bears for the Ten Millioneth Time) but I, as a person, am more than just the things I do. I am the things I think, the things I listen to, the things I see, the things I feel. And also thanks to modern technology, being home doing boring things doesn't cut me off from learning about all of the interesting, intriguing, various things in the world. So for me, I make some small time everyday to engage myself in things I find interesting that don't relate to my status as MoM. I read news articles, watch videos, look up things on Pinterest…whatever. I just do something that is just for me, to remember what intrigues are in the world around me. There are endless things to learn about the world around us, how could that ever be boring?

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  28. I can see what you're saying about worrying that others perceive you as being boring. I recently decided to try a dating site, and boy was that a humbling experience! I felt really boring as I looked around at others on there. I don't travel much, I don't have a glamorous job, and I spend most of my free time hanging out with my kids. I don't think I'm boring in person, but trying to sum myself up online sure made me feel a little lame.

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  29. I think it is really important to look at your life and accept it for what it is. If there are things that are really wrong, then by all means, do what you have to do to change them. But I don't think we should wish away what our lives.

    I second the book "The Happiness Project" by Gretchin Rubin. I studied it last year and worked on my own project for 6 months. It was enormously beneficial.

    I just moved to Saudi Arabia and I'm finding tremendous excitement again in all those ordinary tasks that bored me in the States. I've lived abroad twice before so I know the novelty wears off, but it still is a fun experience to do those ordinary things in a different place. It certainly gives me new perspective into my ordinary life.

    I also think that living with a chronic illness gives you a new appreciation for the everyday, mundane acts of motherhood and homemaking. It's hard to take for granted the ability to clean a bathroom or play with your kids when you can't do those things.

    I've been blessed to have some really cool experiences, but I hope and pray that whatever my life is, I'll take it for what it is, and make the most of it, and feel satisfied with what I've done in whatever capacity.

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