I’m hiding in in my bedroom from my family. Specifically, Zoey. I’m not proud about this, I just think it’s my job as a writer to set a realistic scene for you, the reader. So there. I’m hiding because motherhood kicked my ass today. And not for any specific reason. Well . . . not for any specific good reason.
If you must know, Zoey kept putting her grimy feet on me. All day. Beginning at 8 am I said, “Please don’t put your feet on me; I don’t like it.” By 9 am I had said that exact same sentence 5 times. Basically, I had a neon flashing sign on my head that said in Toddlerese: HOT BUTTON. PRESS IT. REPEATEDLY. So, of course, Zoey began following me around with the express purpose of putting her feet on me. Then she had 3 time outs in the space of 15 minutes which, by the way, did nothing to deter her. And if anyone dares to comment “that’s not how the book says to do time outs” I will hunt you down, smack you, sit on top of you, and then eat all of your chocolate.
By dinner time, I am done with feet. SO DONE. I am pissy and on edge. We sit down to eat and Zoey scrunches way down in her chair so her big toe can just reach my thigh. And . . . her toe makes contact with my skin. I look at her with the laser-beam-stare-of-doom and say, “Do. Not. Touch. Me. With. Your. Feet. EVER. AGAIN.” I then dramatically and nosily scape my chair across the floor and bang my plate of food down into my new spot. My spot that is about as far away from Zoey as I can get. Demetri looks at me like I’ve served up kittens in cream sauce for dinner (we had pesto, actually). And I know, I know, I am not being a good mom in this moment. I know that Zoey has heard ‘no’ and ‘don’t’ and ‘stop‘ all day long. I know that today instead of being Fun Mom, I’ve been Grumpy Mom. And I hate hate hate it.
I started thinking about two moms that I love and admire. Both of them claim to love motherhood. And in my worst moments I think that this can’t possibly be true — Who would love this? I think that maybe they have forgotten what it’s like — they have older kids, all in high school or college. I think that they must be glossing over and making nice. But the thing is, these moms don’t do that. They tell it like it is. They have empathy and compassion and just the right amount of cynicism. And here’s where things get really hard: if they truly love motherhood and I don’t, well . . . this must mean I am a bad mother.
One of these moms talks wistfully about when her kids were small — she would drop her daughter off at preschool and she and her son would head home to eat grilled cheese sandwiches and watch ‘A Baby Story’. And I think, Well, duh, who wouldn’t want to do that? But I also see that same mom today really enjoying her kids and enjoying parenting. And being damn good at it. And I think, I wish that could be me. And I make that wish with such intensity that it scares me. Then, of course, this same mom will tell me about the time her kid ate deodorant and it all seems a tad less glamourous. Which, I think, is her point.
The other mom can make homemade cookies without looking at a recipe. And she adores her kids and is adored by them. Adored by teenage boys. Although I do have this memory of her telling me how much she loves motherhood and then saying, “Except for when I had to get a job at The Gap to get out of the house. I mean, I got paid $7 an hour for folding other people’s clothes so what does that tell you?” I’m not sure if this is real or not. And I’m too chicken to ask her. I need it to be real. Because I can’t be the only one who doesn’t love it all the time*, right?
Please, oh please, don’t let me be the only one.
* Also, because I am insecure and anxiety prone I need to point out that I said ‘it’, not ‘her’. I do lover ‘her’ all the time. Even when she puts her feet on me.