Friday, August 7, 2009

Lowering the standard, one day at a time

As a novice in the world of parenting, one thing has been abundantly clear from the start: many mothers play to win. It is an unspoken game with tacit rules. It is a competition laden with assurances to the contrary. We internalize the pressure until the only person in the game is ourselves, with our own mounting expectations and little tolerance for our mistakes. It is about milestones (is being potty trained at 12 months old a prerequisite to medical school?), language skills, extracurricular activities (I couldn’t be more thrilled that little Henry is an aspiring German interpreter), manners, home cooked meals (organic, trans-fat and preservative free of course), limited television time, Martha Stewart-esque desserts for playdates, and birthday parties crafted to perfection.

Let me reflect for a moment on a day in our perfect household:

5:15 a.m. – Hit snooze and contemplate dismembering the alarm clock

5:30 a.m. – Wake and shower

6:00 a.m. – Do a load of laundry before we resort to buying new clothes because our closets are full of dirty ones.

6:15 a.m. – Open the fridge to see if the grocery fairy visited in the night; pack my lunch and make Kate’s juice and milk cups.

6:30 a.m. – Spend 30 minutes trying to make myself look presentable, then give up, wishing I had those 30 minutes of my life back.

7:00 a.m. – Wake Kate up and cheerily convince her that she DOES want to get out of bed, she DOES want to wear clothes, and she DOES want to brush her teeth. Oh and we are running late AGAIN … can’t you cooperate for mommy? What? You need to use the potty downstairs? What’s wrong with the one upstairs? Oh, this is funny, isn’t it? Why am I NOT LAUGHING?

7:15 a.m. – Get Kate a snack for the car. Wait. Of course you don’t want that. What do you want? Oh, not that either? Not that? What about this? I just can’t think of a better way to start the morning. How about you go pick? A blueberry Clif bar, just the thing I presented 13,876 offers ago. Interesting.

7:17 a.m. – Buckle Kate into the car seat, observe large blueberry stain on left shoulder of my shirt

7:22 a.m. – Emerge from the house with a wet, blue-tinged shoulder

7:39 a.m. – Drop Kate off at daycare and drive like a maniac to Starbucks

7:57 a.m. – Arrive to work and settle in to start my day

Start my day? Let's now fast forward through: making it through this thing called work, grocery shopping, cooking and eating dinner, juggling myriad appointments and phone calls, buying a birthday card for my Mother, bath and bedtime, sifting through bills, and contemplating calling into life exhausted tomorrow.

9:59 p.m. – Sit down on the couch perplexed while realizing it is the first time I have done nothing all day. Recognize that the only reward for that is a repeat performance at 5:15 a.m. the next morning.

10:01 p.m. – Wonder why Time Magazine isn’t knocking on my damn door to do a feature article on my superhuman mother-of-the-year accomplishments of the day.

10:03 p.m. – Interruption by my darling husband.

“Do you know what you forgot today?”
“No, what?”
“Shoes. You took Kate to daycare and you didn’t pack her shoes.”

Before I fell over and died, I said, “Oh screw mommy competition. Perhaps my sole purpose is just to make them feel better about themselves.”


Mandy said...

Oh, I love this post Lyndsay! I couldn't agree with you more. I actually joined a private moms group through babycenter. We're like the Anti-June Cleavers of the world. I can't wait to call Oprah when I experience about my wondermom abilities once I go through one day without my daughter crying, my cat throwing up and my house not looking like Hurricane Katrina hit it too. Oh yeah, well that will happen in about 20 years maybe! You're not alone in your thoughts and in that race to lose the best mom competition. I try to remind myself that it's okay that my 21 month old isn't really talking yet. She's quite funny as she shoves blades of grass in her mouth. Isn't that better than her saying, "I hate you mom. You don't understand me!" in five different languages anyway?! I'll join you for a cocktail and some chocolate at 10:04 p.m. next time.

Grand Pooba said...

Oh my goodness, although the mommy world is a little foreign to me right now, I have heard plenty about the mommy competition and can't wait to join in and obliterate all you mommies!

Ha! Yeah right. I have a hard time not forgetting MY shoes!

You are supermom!

supah ~d said...

Oh sweet. :) No shoes.

STOP SCREAMING YOU'RE GOING TO WAKE UP THE BABY ( screams me: directly outside of the babies room)

YOu're real. That's nice.

Call Me Cate said...

I have no misgivings. If I ever have a baby, my actual goal is to somehow safely deliver him/her to the age of 18 without too many serious "oops" while doing it all completely wrong. I figure if my goal is to totally screw up, I have a better chance of failing at that and doing a decent job.

Jeanne said...

You're doing just fine. Kate is the proof of that!

Divine Chaos said...

mommy competition?? LOL screw that! If we get through the day and my kid is still breathing and not missing any limbs ... I win *grins*

Rachel Cotterill said...

Sounds to me like you're doing a perfectly good job! Who needs shoes, anyway?!

Special K said...

I love it! Crack me up.....