Being a mommy. I just freaking love it, okay? I know I bitch and moan and talk a big game about how I’m so not cut out for this motherhood crap, and what a slacker I am when it comes to all things parental, but I actually don’t mind it so much. Career woman? Office hours? No fucking thank you. I’m good right where I am.
I mean, I have my days, right? Sometimes it’s a full 24-hour period full of fatigue, and frustration…or inexplicable rage. Whatever. Sometimes it’s just one quick moment–I close my eyes and count to 10 and wish I were somewhere else, like, say, curled up on my own mother’s lap, letting her wipe away my tears and handle everything that I’m supposed to be handling.
Take for instance this afternoon. It’s hot. It’s ever so hot. I’m in an un-air-conditioned car that’s on the brink of exploding with a whiny preschooler and a screaming–and I do mean screaming–1 year old. We’d been running errands all day long, and while we succeeded in picking up a birthday present for a party Mia’s going to tomorrow at the most obnoxious place known to man (Andy’s Alligator Park–the very sound of it is offensive, no?), we effectively forgot the gift bag for it. I turned the car around and dragged my motley crew back into Target for a stupid bag. There were a million other people in my way, all trying to buy mother’s day cards and graduation presents, and my kids just weren’t in the mood for a crowd, or the hold-up that came with it. I, of course, handled everything with grace and dignity and magical Jedi powers as I usually do. But when a snooty bleach-blond fat ass 20 year old know-it-all college girl ahead of me in the checkout line had the fucking nerve to roll her eyes and shake her head at my screaming baby boy, I lost it. A little. It was all I could do not to go all Anakin Skywalker on everyone within a 10-foot radius. So I did what any mom would do–I took the passive aggressive route and piped up to the kindly grandma-like cashier: "Boy, oh, boy, is he ever done! I guess I just can’t get accomplished in one day all the things I used to back before I had kids!" Said the cashier: "Bless your heart–being a mom is the hardest job there ever was!" Said the woman behind me: "Amen to that!" Said the woman behind her: "It’s amazing my kids aren’t throwing a tantrum right now! I guess they haven’t seen the candy yet!" Said the cashier to the girl ahead of me: "You young people just don’t know how easy you have it." Said the girl: nothing. Nervous smile, exit stage left. Fuck her and her designer sweat shorts.
I know I don’t do things right. I use crib bumpers…and blankets, and, depending on how tired I am, a pillow–in Merrick’s crib. I still breastfeed on demand. I’ve given up on trying to keep his face clean. He’s a grimy little thing and I’m sick of fighting it. I’ve let him chew on paintbrushes and toothpaste tubes and balloons. His poor tender forehead is full of bumps and bruises from smacking it into the tile floor constantly. Some nights Mia doesn’t get a bath, even though she needs one. She’s had cereal for dinner. I let her climb up the wall on the side of the house just to see it she could do it. Once she watched "Enchanted" 3 times in a row because I was desperately tired. And, though I don’t laugh out loud, I think it’s hilarious when she says a bad word. (Geez people, it’s not like she says them all the time. Just every once in a blue moon. Really.)
Cheyenne’s not a lucky child. Sometimes I’m downright mean to her. But I firmly believe that all the laundry and dishes and babysitting and poop-scooping that I have her do on a daily basis builds character. Add in the fact that she doesn’t own a cell phone, a Wii or a golf cart and she’ll be Miss A-freakin-Merica when she grows up. Whoever winds up marrying my daughter will have me to thank for grooming her into such a fine, character-y woman. As I write this, she sits behind me and asks, "How does that build character???" and then, "Shut up, Mom! You’re not answering my question!" Little does she realize that I have said nothing to shut up for in the first place. She might think I am dumb, and maybe, just maybe, I am, but she? Is awesome–because of me.
I love my kids. I’m not a fan of other people’s kids; unless of course they’re family or like family, then? They’re tolerable. How many other people’s kids can sing Boston’s "More Than a Feeling" verbatim, complete with the "Waaaawaarrrrr, waaaawwwrrrr" guitar sounds? (That’s Mia.) If I throw out a random quote from an obscure movie like "The Chipmunk Adventure", who can I count on to laugh her head off and come right back with the next line? (That’s Cheyenne.) And when I’m delirious and sleepy and completely out of patience, who gives me a slobbery, open-mouth kiss right on my eye to bring me back to my senses? (That’s Merrick.) My kids are so adorable, they make everyone else look like calculating androids.
And while I don’t think I’m a bad mother, I’ll never–never–understand how my own mother managed to do all the awesome stuff she did for us girls while we were growing up. Maybe she just seemed like supermom because I was young. But then again, I know for a fact I couldn’t mow the lawn, wash the cars, fix 3 square meals a day for 3 bratty little girls, cart them back and forth to a million-and-one places, feed the dogs, clean the house, attend PTA meetings, sell Home Interiors, go for walks AND get showers AND have some sort of a social life on top of it all…and we only had one old car! Whew! After all that, I’m semi-depressed.
I don’t believe in a mothering instinct. Okay, well the whole cradling a crying kid, or kissing boo-boos, yeah–that’s a no brainer. Call it instinct if you must. But motherhood–modern-day motherhood–is a fine-tuned skill, a craft, that takes years and years to perfect or even get remotely good at. And once you do, your kids are grown up and gone. Maybe that’s why grandmas seem to know everything. It makes perfect sense, does it not?
And so, without further ado, here’s a big fat THANK YOU to my mom–the Obi-Wan of all Mothers–and Happy Mother’s Day to you. May I one day come close…