So I saw the ad just like a lot of you did. Can I say, I was outraged by the outrage? Are we all that insecure about our motherhood that we can’t complain about it? Have we all been drinking so much of the mommy Kool-Aid that we can’t take a second and say, “ouch! That hurts!” How many of us have been guilty of asking a thirty something year old childless woman when she is going to take the leap into mommyhood? How many of those same thirty something year old childless woman listen from afar to conversations about Baby Bjorns, high tech monitors and dropside 4 in 1 cribs and thought, “huh? wah?” I am sure these mystified women wouldn’t be afraid to say they’re mystified so it came as a pretty big surprise to see such pride and stoicism on the part of all these mommies unwilling to admit to a pain or an ache. Or, perhaps these angry mommies are mad at the implication that they objectify their children. Let’s think about that one for a second. Okay, so the ad might have taken the whole baby bonding thing a little far but if you stop for a second and really think about it, you can’t deny the chorus of voices and judgments that befall a new mom of any age in any of the past five generations. Can you not hear the “we must do what is best for the child” with the underlying melody of, “ignore yourself! ignore your pain!” As a new mother over five years ago, I came down with a ravenous form of mastitis that sent me to the hospital for a week. My trip to the hospital wouldn’t be complete without a visit from the local lactation support group who took my number and invited me to a complimentary lactating seminar for new mom’s. I had been breast feeding for four months and was quite done with the experience after a 106 degree fever and a week on an iv. I felt guilty though. Haven’t you all? When you look down at your sweet little adoring baby and hear the soundtrack, “Don’t give up! What a shame! Your milk is so good for your baby.” Uh, the baby is making me sick ladies. Uh, I was in the hospital for a week and its been four months of torture on my nipple. I think I’m done with this breastfeeding thing and this Enfamil Soy seems to be really sitting well with her so far. The calls came in once a week. “How are you doing? How is the nursing going? We think you should give it one more try.” Ugh. I need some Motrin. I’m not afraid or scared to say it and anyone who can’t admit to a little frustration with the juggling act, needs some too.
Yeah! I’m talking to all of the school districts out there who are so intent on selling an agenda whether it be $ for more school supplies, or books or some charity or cause the teacher or school believes in that week, month, year. My child came home with flyers and handouts that begged me to give to this and pay for that and donate, donate, donate! We have the Book Fair and a Walk a thon, we have a Heritage Festival with proceeds going to only the most needy families in our area. I mean, I’m all for supporting the school and needy families but haven’t we had enough of this already? When are we the needy families?
In our school district, a school district that was on strike for the first two weeks of school, my child has half day Wednesdays while children in other ajoining districts have a regular school week. My child comes home with the long list of peanut do’s and don’ts. The teacher had the audacity to ask parents to change their buying habits to assuage this little girl. Yes, I am sad for the little girl and I am sure this is an allergy no one wants to live with but come on! I can’t buy Fritos or granola bars without nuts because it was made in a factory where there were nuts or even worse I can’t send my child to school with anything that was even sitting next to a package that might have contained nuts? This is NUTS!
We are all so afraid of standing up and saying, NO! I don’t care about that charity or that cause or donating to your book collection because I have a family to raise and that is what they made LIBRARIES for! My child doesn’t have a peanut allergy and he wants a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without fearing retribution from his teacher. In a world where American students are no longer competitive with students from other countries, I’m not afraid to say, “forget half day Wednesdays and Veterans Day! My child has work to do and so do you!” Check your guilt mongering at the door folks because the rest of the world is passing us by while we are busy writing the checks.
I call it the great balancing act of my life. For twenty years I ascribed to the beauty regimen I read about, watched and emulated every day. The word “ascribed” does not accurately reflect how I ate up, absorbed and relished the next edition of Cosmo or In Style. It does not begin to cover the complete ego gratification a look or a glance gave me when the combination of hip hugging jeans and sheer kissable lip glaze worked, yes, it worked! The hours of study had paid off and the lip glaze gave way to highlights that gave way to implants a few years later. Yes, the implants worked too as the attention filled me up and completed me in so many ways. I didn’t hide this lacking inside myself. The lacking really didn’t matter because in my circle of friends, it was the result that mattered. The Real Housewives of Orange County had nothing on me and although I related to the absurdity of the lifestyle, the alternative scared the hell out of me. The alternative, a life of scrubbing toilets, cleaning my hunk’s boxer briefs and the underpants of our children was not appealing but not for the reason you would think. I love the smell of Bounce Linen fabric softener sheets and marvel in the cathartic act of vacuuming and emptying the bag. I love the look of our shiny bathtub after scrubbing it to a sparkle and the feel of a sleek hardwood floor after a good polish. I want to thank Pledge Orange for the scent and the sense of achievement when my dining room table looks brand new! These little things and the silence of sitting in our home and “being” was not lost on me. What was lost, was the attention and the reward the other lifestyle, the lifestyle that is mocked on The Soup and complained about among my new peers, gave me. The reward for a clean toilet is, “of course it should be clean.” The reward for clean cotton boxer briefs, “of course they should be clean.” I would be dishonest to say there is an expectation to be “hot” in doing these mundane tasks. I mean, there were those moments when high heels and the vacuum gave him a thrill but that was when vacuuming did not include sucking up legos and Power Rangers. The expectation for attention and reward can be managed by slapping on the war paint and plugging in the vacuum but more often than not a day or two or a week or a month later, the kissable glaze lip sheer takes second seat to toilet brushes and the Swiffer Wetjet. Doing both is hard and comes with an underlying bitterness when you notice that he continues doing what he always did with the exception of being excited about you. I became the “your hot wife” to his friends juxtaposed with my husband’s take, “but she doesn’t fold the laundry.” Sometimes its just too much to be the woman who does it all. On the days I do fold the family laundry, I am not the hot wife anymore and watch as Deal or No Deal steals the last bit of attention I could have soaked out of the situation. It’s not his fault. It’s my choice. My response to that choice is one in the making. The highlights still reside in my marketing package and so does the laundry but the laundry I will keep hidden from his view. I have taken on the responsibility of being as invisible but intriguing to him as I was years ago and of creating the aura of mystique that happens when his toilet is magically transformed into a surface he could see his own reflection on. We will see if he comes around. I’ll keep you up to date.