The other day I struck up a conversation with the mom of a nice girl in my daughter’s preschool class. I was hoping to make a connection so that maybe I could like, have one friend who is related to my kid’s friend and that my daughter would actually really come out of her shell and have a real friend and I could really come out of my shell and be myself and have a friend other than the friends I have who all live way the hell across the country and the “friends” I see once a year who live nearby and we have one night to drink wine and eat at a restaurant that doesn’t even have a kids menu and what the fuck do we talk about we talk about schools and lame birthday parties and get this we talk about common core math. It turns out the mom is a completely lovely person who grew up in a regular town who now lives in a very fucking wealthy town in a mansion. I grew up in a basic town and I left for 15 years thinking I was going to be better and do something great, once telling a high school classmate that I was going to be famous someday he said famous for what and I said I’m not sure yet and now I live back in that same strip mall and restaurant-overflowing town where I grew up and swore off. I felt so incredibly inadequate that I wanted to crawl under the toddler drinking fountain and slowly water-torture myself with the dripping toddler saliva and rusty water. Drip. Drip. Drip.
When I started commuting this week to a new job, so many people told me that commuting by train is “oh so easy & fun!” And taking the train to work is “Wonderful, because you can sleep all the way!”
As I sit writing this post from the hot, sticky airless box of doom that runs from downtown Chicago to my northwest suburb, I can’t help but wonder what type of crack those people are smoking.
The company where I have worked (on and off -by choice) for 12 years recently decided to eliminate my position which was sporadic and temporary, but the thought of ending this love/hate relationship I have with working outside the home not by my decision was unsettling. I prefer to be the one doing the quitting! So I took matters into my own hands and procured a position helping out in another location much farther away. I’m trying this whole commuting thing and it’s sort of fun, in a bizarre way.
As the mother of a three year-old energy ball, I have more than enough ‘work’ to keep me busy. There is nothing I’d rather do than take care of my kid nonstop, and if we had unlimited bankroll – I wouldn’t feel the sort of guilt I feel about doing it. When I’m home and not working at all, I feel guilty that my husband has the pressure of being the sole breadwinner. When I’m at work, I feel guilty for not being with my daughter.
Being able to do this only once or twice a week is nice but will it be worthwhile in the end? I’m not sure. I like trying though, because this stinky, carbon dioxide-heavy moving death chamber is kinda like my version of the spa. Us moms pamper ourselves in different ways. By taking the train to a job where I am valued by other adults, in a way I am allowing myself to be something other than mommy for a while.
So right now instead of guilt, all I feel is sweet sweet moist body odor settling into my hair. Ahh how I love the train…
I’m pretty sure I feel a lot more guilty than most people. Guilty when I go to work at my part time job. Guilty when I am not working, not contributing financially to our household. Guilty when I let my daughter play iPad while I do elliptical for twenty minutes because it somehow feels so selfish of me. Doing something for myself sometimes means I ignore my child and I feel terrible. I must reassure myself of things that more rational people simply take for granted as a part of life. She’s happy playing mostly educational games and watching PBS and she knows so much about the differences between crocodiles and alligators now so why am I so emotional? Guilty when I have to make dinner and either she plays alone or watches the TV thats rarely on. Many parents feel guilt when it comes to their kids, so I guess I just wonder: What’s the normal amount of guilt?
When my baby was first born, it began. My obsession with my sweet girl brought what I suppose was Postpartum Depression in the form of germophobia and severe guilt-ridden anxiety. I feel fortunate that we bonded immediately and I cherish the memories of holding my warm little bundle of joy. The life-altering, amazingly wonderful cliché of having a baby rang true for me however my guilt over the smallest things began and hasn’t stopped in almost three years. I’m much much better now but I have these lingering feelings like I shouldn’t leave her to play alone while I need to do something else. If she just wants to play alone that’s great and she’s very strong willed and tells me exactly what she wants. I love that she loves playing alone but sometimes she wants to play with me and I can’t and that’s when I feel awful. The truth is that I don’t actually want to stop my guilt factory, aka my brain, from producing these thoughts. Sometimes I compare myself to other moms I know, and pat myself on the back not because I think I’m better than anyone else but because we all have our issues and I work as hard as I possibly can and jeez I deserve to give myself a break. I deserve to nurture myself and exercise and condition my hair in the shower and to make myself a special salad for dinner and if that means my kid has to entertainment herself or watch some TV then so be it.
Guess I just worked that out right here. Awesome.
Seriously motherhood* doesn’t have to be as hard as some of us make it. I cannot speak for an entire gender on the subject of self criticism, but I can write for myself while I’m sitting here wishing I could take a few more things in stride.
Some days I just don’t choose to spend the time cooking some meal from scratch and instead feed my kid mac & cheese and fruit from a cup – gasp – but then I tell myself it’s okay because the pasta and cheese are organic and some fruit is better than no fruit and you know she really likes those fruit cups so so what if it’s because they’re packed in juice and taste like pure sugar? “There’s lots of fiber! Vitamin C is so freakin’ awesome!” I tell myself lots of embellished truths for reassurance that even the most perfectly perfect moms feed their kids something from a box once in a while unless you’re perfectly perfect Gwenyth Paltrow, to whom I extend a huge You Go, Mama! ’cause that’s her thing and everyone has her own way and that’s cool I don’t judge other mommies unless you’re Gwenyth Paltrow, because seriously, Girl, that’s a lot of kale.
I am gonna vow to give myself a break. I’ve got a long way to go with this mothering thing. I’m 34 years old and still eat my moms food. It’s been two years and my kid isn’t just okay, she’s extremely awesome and you know what I am proud damn proud of her and of myself. Why am I too bashful to say that aloud? Women are traditionally the strong silent bearers of responsibility and providers of care to their young (and their grown up kids, partners, neighbors, pets, neighbors’ pets…).
I want my daughter to know that I respect myself and that it’s okay to have a pretty decently sized ego. I recently caught my 2 year-old saying, “I’m sorry” when she hadn’t done anything wrong, and that’s messed up, man. I will stop saying I am sorry for crap like bumping into someone else’s shopping cart at the grocery store – instead I’ll say, “Excuse me,” or whatever a man would say: <grunt> or <head nod, sniff>.
I just want to be a good role model and to be able to forgive myself during those moments when I’m not the most confident mom. If I do my absolute best, I’ll still suck sometimes. And I’m okay with that.
*I did not write “parenthood,” because men are better at being cocksure (yes, I found that lovely synonym to ‘confident’ on thesaurus.com than their female counterparts.
…Bastard Grout Mold
It gets worse every second I sit here and type and try to ignore its presence. It mocks me by growing and spreading its mossy splotches across my tile. From bottom to top, it’s gone from ‘Eh, not so bad it’s just in the corners’ to ‘Hmm, that’s getting pretty noticeable’ to ‘Eeeeww, this isn’t a shower it’s a mildew factory!’ Pretty soon I’m gonna start talking to the mold like it’s my shower buddy or maybe that’s the spores getting into my brain. I think I’d better actually take some action. I’ve tried the environmentally friendly sprays, but that weak watered down stuff can’t penetrate this Fort Knox of sludge so I mix up my own little concoction inspired by Martha’s grout cleaner & it worked awesomely. Vinegar rocks:
DIY Tub and Tile Cleaner
So last night it was midnight after finally putting my nonsleeping kid to sleep, and I was trying to pee as quietly as possible before crawling into bed when out of the corner of my eye I see him. The biggest creepiest curliest black spider scampering across the bathroom floor. Actually, ‘scampering’ makes it seem like this creature was in some way endearing but he really wasn’t so let’s say he was scurrying. Wait, no. Lurking. Whatever, he was fast okay? Back and forth across the floor by my feet and then under the white rug and then under the white towel I left on the floor so I could dry my razor, because it gets all gross when I leave it in the shower. So I can see the little lump scurrying, I mean creeping underneath the towel and I stealthily grab the nearest hard thing – a Kleenex box – throw back the floor towel and WHACK! Got him and he curled up his hairy legs like that witch under the house in The Wizard of Oz and I had a moment of victory & then immediately one of sadness and regret, because I usually advocate saving spiders since they kill the little, more annoying bugs, but he was so damn scampery and well, I justified it to myself because of the mystery bites my daughter had on her back recently, but obviously I feel guilt or I wouldn’t be writing this post at 4:19am. Thankfully my arachnid homicide didn’t wake up my kid or then I’d have real problems.
Sharpening kitchen knives is never a good idea. Well, it’s good in theory, but in my clumsy reality it’s terrible. I decided to sharpen our Wusthof knife set that we got for our wedding four years ago for the very first time – how super domestic of me. I was excited at the prospect of actually being able to chop some lettuce without getting carpel tunnel. I dutifully scraped all 16 knives on the sharpener thingy, washed them and waited until I needed to cut something. Then today I needed to cut something. Sweet. Making gluten-free lasagna, and I decided it’d be a good idea to make a third of it dairy free with vegan cheese for me and man that was a bad call. When the package was wet and slippery and wouldn’t open the regular way after trying really hard, I should have read the signs & stopped right there, but I pressed on. I grabbed one of my freshly shiny pointy knives out of the block and quickly sliced the package open. Unfortunately, I also sliced my finger open and my moist fake cheese became moist fake cheese with blood all over it and why did I think eating vegan cheese was a good idea in the first place? Determined to beat this stringy non-dairy glob at its own game, I salvaged some, washed my finger off and after wrapping it hastily in a paper towel, I used one hand to finish my gluten-free half dairy free lasagna so ha! I made it anyway. Victory. The timer went off and it smelled awesome and I had wrapped my sore finger which probably needed stitches but I had more important things to do that spend all afternoon, evening, night in the emergency room – I had lasagna to devour! I grabbed a plate, put a steaming forkful of my concoction in my mouth and immediately spit it out. Awful. Tasted like garbage & sour milk got together and had a food baby. At least I learned an important lesson: don’t do things, especially not things in the kitchen.
“I base my fashion taste on what doesn’t itch.”
– Gilda Radner