This morning, after I got the 6-year-old off to “summer club” at the local museum and got the 7 1/2-year-old deeply entranced with some Toy Story Legos, I grabbed my laptop and said to my 2-year-old daughter (in the kitchen with my vacationing husband) “Mommy’s going to go do some work for a while.”
Maggie belly-laughed at this little joke. “Mommy, you don’t work!” she chortled.
“What? Yes I do, honey,” I said.
“No you don’t,” she giggled. “That’s silly.”
“Well, I don’t wear a suit and go to an office like Daddy,” I said. “But I do work. My writing is my work.”
“NO IT’S NOT!” she roared, laughing helplessly.
This really bothered me. I suppose it’s mostly that my daughter doesn’t want me to “work,” as in, “exist for anything beyond her whim of the moment.” And she does have me around, a lot of the time, doing just that.
At the same time, I want her to know that I do work and that my work has value. Admittedly I may be a little defensive on this point; I’m not exactly stoking the fires in a coal mine, or performing open heart surgery. But I do something that I enjoy and that I think is of value. I even wrote a book that is actually on bookshelves. Not that that impressed my daughter much, either. And it still hasn’t quieted my inner doubts that I have something to prove, that if I’m going to take time away from my children to do something else, it had better be worth it.
Yesterday afternoon, I emailed a contractor who is going to do some work on my in-laws’ house (long story). I finished up my brief missive with “Hope you’re enjoying this incredible weather this week!”
Within three minutes came the response: “LOL some of us have to WORK!!!”
So that makes two people who think I don’t work.
This seems to me to be a particularly mom-ish problem. So many of my friends are working part-time, re-entering the work force, blazing their own trails, trying to be the best mom they can be and getting a career back on track at the same time. And many of our families probably do perceive us as not really working. I mean, as if.
What about you? Have you found that people are quick to make assumptions about your “work” or lack thereof as a mother?
My friend Amy (there are a lot of us) posted this on her Facebook page yesterday:
Saw a man with his 3 or 4 year old son on a merry-go-round today. Not once during whole ride (including the waiting in line) did he look up from his BlackBerry. He missed the whole experience. Pitiful.
I saw this while drinking my morning coffee, and clucked my tongue with superiority. What a clown! How sad his kid must have been.
Then David and I hustled the two boys in the car and off we went for a day trip to a water park, about 45 minutes away. Once we got there, we sat in the front seats whipping off just one more email on our respective personal devices while the boys wheedled, “Let’s go! Please can we just GO!”
As we went to get out of the car, David stopped me. “Can we bring these in?” he said. “I don’t know,” I said. I did know, of course; I just didn’t want to say it. We stared at each other, both of us unwilling to go first. Slowly, gingerly, we both extricated our smart phones from our grasps and left them behind in the glove compartment.
Now seems like a good time to mention that everyone else east of the Mississippi also went to Splish Splash yesterday. (In fact, I’m sure I saw you on the Giant Twister.) Our day was spent standing in line, 30 to 40 minutes at a time, for a ride down that would last 30 to 40 seconds.
Like a phantom limb, I kept reaching for my iPhone as the line inched along. If I had had it, I would have been tweeting and checking Facebook, letting the boys do an Ocarina concert, checking email, drawing mustaches on baby photos, you name it. We would have been so productive standing in those lines. We would also have ignored one another completely.
Instead, thanks to being in a super-soaker environment, we had nothing to do but stand there and talk to each other. And so that’s what we did.
Thank you, Splish Splash. Thank you, hordes of flume riders. Thanks to you, it was hot. And it was boring. And it was wonderful.
This morning in the kitchen, Seamus shouted, “Somebody call 9-1-1!”
And then, as my adrenaline surged into octo-boost and I turned my head expecting to see a severed limb, he and his brother shouted together: “Shawty fire burning on the dance floor! A-whoa-oh!”and then started cutting some amazing moves right there on the linoleum.
“What are you guys singing?” I asked, completely baffled. “Fire Burning,” Connor answered. “Duh Mom. You know that song.”
I assured him that I did not. Both boys’ jaws dropped in disbelief.
“How can you not know that song?!” they chorused. “I heard it at camp about twelve TIMES,” Seamus said, rolling his eyes. They went back to dancing in their pajamas, and then Seamus shouted out,
“I throw my hands up in the air sometimes!” Without missing a beat, his two-year-old sister shouted, “Singing Ay-O! Got to let… go!”
Seriously, how decrepit am I to have never heard two songs my kids somehow know all the words to?
This one, by the way, is an awesome song and is currently the number-one download on iTunes. Of course, you all probably knew that, because only I am this old. I just didn’t think the musical disconnect would start when my kids were this little. Last time I checked, we still had Billy Jonas in the CD player. (Now HE rocks.)
Is it all over? Am I doomed to be an out-of-touch fuddy-duddy now that I have a second grader?
It is a truth universally acknowledged that every little one needs something littler than him- or herself to lug around and love dearly. For proof of this, one need look no further than
Sometimes, the objects of affection are less fuzzy/cuddly, though still undeniably cute:
And then there’s my family.
Maggie is sleeping with a pair of hot-pink sunglasses.
To be fair, they were lost for most of the summer, and I just found them in a drawer a few days ago. Ever since then, she has been wearing them atop her head for all waking hours. This is from me, clearly; I love summertime because sunglasses are a constant headband option without actually wearing a headband, which always make me look like this.
I mean nothing against our Secretary of State by this, because she herself knows much better than to go around like that now. Headbands are tricky; sunglasses are instant chic hair-off-the-face.
But I digress. Maggie has taken to wearing her sunglasses atop her head all day, and taking them in the crib with her at night. “Mommy I sleep wif dese PLEASE?” she pleads, and I shrug, wishing it were always that easy to make her happy. But what is she getting out of lying on top of them all night? They seem less-than-cozy.
She may have gotten this idea from her older brother, who had his 6th birthday a few weeks back. His grandparents sent him a huge Toy Story 3 Lego set he’d had his eye on, and when the box arrived in the mail, just a few shakes gave him the clue that he was totally set up. He refused to open the gift until his actual birthday, but slept with the (wrapped) present for the three days until his birthday came. On his birthday, he unwrapped the present, then slept with the (unopened) box for another night or two.
Now he has the whole thing put together, and in the spirit of celebration, this morning he said, “Mommy, can I sleep with my Toy Story Legos tonight?”
For those of you not already familiar with The Mouthy Housewives, they are four moms– Wendi, Marinka, Heather, and Kelcey- who are so funny and cool that people show up wherever they party and start handing out free vacuum cleaners, and I ain’t frontin’.
Besides the swag of a lifetime, the Mouthy Housewives offer sassy and hilarious answers to all your most burning questions. I recently had the privilege of being a guest Mouthy Housewife, which was fun and only a little bit intimidating. Here was the question thrown to me (and my answer): Dear Mouthy Housewives,
I made a very huge mistake last year and fear I can never, ever get out of it short of moving or death. You see, I decided to become active in a militant group more popularly known as the PTA. They insist on blood (really), sweat (so unattractive) and tears (usually caused by the meanest of mean girl that can be found outside of a high school).
After realizing “These women are scary,” I quit and now they won’t go away. They stalk my Facebook, watch my tweets and even wait until I post something on my blog so they can then try to decipher hidden meanings in it that they think they can use to bring me down.
Do you think I have to change my name, move and join the witness protection program or is there another way to make these meanie moms go away? I tried a Roach Motel and Pest Control, but I am pretty sure they could even survive a nuclear war along with the roaches and Wall-E.
If I Wanted to Play High School Games, It Wouldn’t Be Mean Girls; It’d Involve a Cheerleading Outfit & My Husband
Dear If I Wanted,
It is so true that when our kids go back to school, we do also– and, for better and worse, we have a real possibility of a do-over, a chance to sit at a different lunch table. Unlike our own high school experiences, where the rules for who sat at the Mean Girls’ table were as inscrutable as they were ironclad, the rules for being part of the “in” crowd among school parents seem pretty simple. Like Marcia Brady, all one need do is sign oneself up. It sounds like that was your plan last year. But now that you’ve realized the Pretty Terrifying Absolutists are not really your style, did you really think you could just walk away? What were you thinking? They’ll cut a bitch.
Here’s what you need to understand: you cannot break up with a stalker, or else they’ll stalk you. You have to get them to break up with YOU, if they’re ever going to leave you alone. In your case, the best way to do this– stay with me, here– is to actually rejoin the PTA, but on the lowest-rung committee you can find. The Semiannual Coaches’ Appreciation Breakfast? The used pencils drive for the less fortunate (or less pencil-owning?) Pretend you’ve seen the light. Get back in- just a little bit. Then, be so lame at your lowly task that someone else has to step in and pick up the slack for you. Once they realize you are apparently so dim you don’t even know how to photocopy, they’ll dump your ass, and go after some sweet, unsuspecting pre-K mom. And sure, you could warn her.
But in a world this cutthroat, you gotta look out for yourself.
Amy Wilson, Guest TMH
To see how my advice went over with the Mouthy Housewives readers, check out their site– even the comments are hysterical! (it seems their readers are almost as lovable as mine).Thanks Mouthies!