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?”
“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.”
A Tour of My Parents’ House
2 days ago