“Is it fun to write?”
My daughter looks up at me from the art project she’s creating with her little brother. One second, she’s making a mess with glitter paint and the next, she’s stopping me in my tracks with her unexpected question.
I took a minute to answer. Because…is it “fun”? (And because I knew this month’s MotherHustle theme was FUN, I was stunned at how perfect it was that she asked me this.)
I think of climbing a mountain or kayaking or the night this summer that my husband and I spent listening to James Taylor under the stars.
I think of the impromptu trip I took the kids on last month — we went to a butterfly conservatory where a butterfly landed on me and stayed for a half hour, and then we spotted a dinosaur park that had mining and gemstones (my kids’ biggest obsessions right now, all in one place), so of course we had to stop.
I think of dancing in the front row with my girlfriends while my husband sang in his band during a one-night-only reunion last month.
I think of how I went paddle boarding for the first time last week, and how my brother joined me and we had a crazy try-not-to-fall contest, and neither of us did.
So, yes, there is a lot of fun in my life. But is writing “fun”? Is work “fun”? I’ve been rolling this question around in my brain since my daughter asked, and here’s my verdict:
And that needs to change.
I’m never sitting at my desk (or in a coffee shop), thinking “Wow! I’m having so much FUN!” I’m not snapping pictures for the scrapbook. I’m not raving to my friends about the good time I had at work today. But I am energized, excited, deep in thought, in love with what I’m doing, consumed by finding the perfect words, elated when they come.
There’s another part of my life as a writer, and it has nothing to do with client work. I write personal essays, mostly about motherhood. That’s not quite “fun”, either. It sometimes feels like slicing myself open and poking the tender parts. But I love to do it. I have to do it; I’m compelled to. It brings me a unique kind of joy.
In either case, I’m not having James-Taylor, butterfly-bestie, front-row, paddle-boarding, giant-smile fun. But I am enjoying myself. I’m having a good time.
And so, for me, work and writing do meet the dictionary definition of fun (“what provides amusement or enjoyment,” according to Merriam-Webster). That realization, to be very ineloquent about it — is so freakin’ cool.
After many years of not enjoying work, of having that pit-in-stomach feeling when I woke up each morning, I know the lightness, confidence, joy and appreciation I have now mean that I am truly happy with my work. I actually look forward to my work days.
I’ve gone months or years without exploring my personal writing and I have felt the weight of all the unwritten words pile up inside me. That, I am sure, is not fun — for me or anyone close to me. Writing is one of my very favorite things to do, my most important gift to the world. There is a certain amount of fun and adventure involved in the continuous unfolding of that.
Even as I’m writing this, I’m putting it all together:
I love what I do.
I love who I do it for.
I love how it makes me feel.
I. am. having. fun.
Because, in its own way, it is — and that mindset shift MATTERS.
When I forget the to-do lists and the timelines and the budgets and the time ticking away in my Freshbooks and the clock counting down until I have to pick up the kids, what I know is that I am having a good time. Work is fun.
Wow. Work is fun. Work is fun. Work is fun.
MotherHustle panelist Stacy Firth is a writer and content strategist who helps moms who are small business owners and solopreneurs create online content that keeps it real. She also leads workshops that help mamas lead a lit-up life, and is mama to two. You can find her on her website or on Instagram at @stacyrfirth.
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