Thursday, February 19, 2009

True Words

These days it is all about the Dude. That is because on Sunday we are celebrating his first birthday and I want everything to be perfect. Naturally that means that it won't. Also there was a vaccination and getting his hand slammed in the door; just your typical week. Some nights I feel so exhausted that I fall asleep by 9pm. When I saw this posted on Facebook, I could not help but laugh. She described my day perfectly. But she forgot my part-time job teaching English, plus the research and activism. I know I am forgetting something . . . oh, yeah, my husband!

For all my mommy friends, and mommies-to-be, this made me laugh.

(First Published in the Washington Post Wednesday, May 23, 2007; Page C10)

Carolyn:

Best friend has child. Her: exhausted, busy, no time for self, no time for me, etc. Me (no kids): Wow. Sorry. What'd you do today? Her: Park, play group . . .

Okay. I've done Internet searches, I've talked to parents. I don't get it. What do stay-at-home moms do all day? Please no lists of library, grocery store, dry cleaners . . . I do all those things, too, and I don't do them EVERY DAY. I guess what I'm asking is: What is a typical day and why don't moms have time for a call or e-mail? I work and am away from home nine hours a day (plus a few late work events) and I manage to get it all done. I'm feeling like the kid is an excuse to relax and enjoy -- not a bad thing at all -- but if so, why won't my friend tell me the truth? Is this a peeing contest ("My life is so much harder than yours")? What's the deal? I've got friends with and without kids and all us child-free folks get the same story and have the same questions.

Tacoma, Wash.

Relax and enjoy. You're funny.

Or you're lying about having friends with kids.

Or you're taking them at their word that they actually have kids, because you haven't personally been in the same room with them.

Internet searches?

I keep wavering between giving you a straight answer and giving my forehead some keyboard. To claim you want to understand, while in the same breath implying that the only logical conclusions are that your mom-friends are either lying or competing with you, is disingenuous indeed.

So, since it's validation you seem to want, the real answer is what you get. In list form. When you have young kids, your typical day is: constant attention, from getting them out of bed, fed, clean, dressed; to keeping them out of harm's way; to answering their coos, cries, questions; to having two arms and carrying one kid, one set of car keys, and supplies for even the quickest trips, including the latest-to-be-declared-essential piece of molded plastic gear; to keeping them from unshelving books at the library; to enforcing rest times; to staying one step ahead of them lest they get too hungry, tired or bored, any one of which produces the kind of checkout-line screaming that gets the checkout line shaking its head.

It's needing 45 minutes to do what takes others 15.

It's constant vigilance, constant touch, constant use of your voice, constant relegation of your needs to the second tier.

It's constant scrutiny and second-guessing from family and friends, well-meaning and otherwise. It's resisting constant temptation to seek short-term relief at everyone's long-term expense.

It's doing all this while concurrently teaching virtually everything -- language, manners, safety, resourcefulness, discipline, curiosity, creativity. Empathy. Everything.

It's also a choice, yes. And a joy. But if you spent all day, every day, with this brand of joy, and then, when you got your first 10 minutes to yourself, wanted to be alone with your thoughts instead of calling a good friend, a good friend wouldn't judge you, complain about you to mutual friends, or marvel how much more productively she uses her time. Either make a sincere effort to understand or keep your snit to yourself.

4 comments:

C N Heidelberg said...

OMG! That letter can't be real. No one really thinks, that right? RIGHT?! :D

Yelli said...

Thank you. I am going to send this to everyone I know. In fact, a very close friend of mine just had a conversation with me, now that she has a baby, of how she better understands what I was going through...esp with no family nearby! Egads!

Yelli said...

I also meant to say Happy Birthday to your son! How time flies! Are you going to capture the famous "baby has frosting all over mouth" blackmail pic later?

Ms. Lolly said...

Happy Birthday Little Dude! I can't believe it has been a year already. And he just keeps getting cuter. How is that possible?!

(and as a child free woman who was a nanny for a few years to wee ones you so don't want to know my thoughts on this LOL)