My 4-year-old came up to me and asks, “Are you a mother or just a mom?”
Whew girl, what a loaded question.
If you have a kid under the age of five, you know about the questions. I don’t even have to be specific when I say that because you’re already sipping your second luke-warm cup of coffee while you smirk and nod.
So many questions. We knew they’d come but nobody realizes how soon until they actually do and there’s no book out there that addresses them all. Sure, they have ones about the body parts and about the magic of the tooth fairy… but they don’t have the ones addressing those existential, meaning-of-life, who are we and why are we, questions that of course only YOUR kid would ask.
Now, if I am being perfectly honest, Cori’s question is rooted in her basic need to understand relationships. Mom, Dad, Grandparents, sisters, boys, girls… that type of shit. But, while I sat there on my couch, resting per doctor’s orders, yearning to go for a run and too woozy to read my book… my brain searched for a deeper meaning to this – it’s a writer thing.
I asked her what she thought the difference was but of course only she is allowed to ask the questions. Not me. She just smiled that crooked smile that I love and took off with her fruit snacks.
But this question made me think…
A lot of people that came after the baby boomers are in this era where we can’t just be good with our decisions. We need to impose our choices on everyone else to make us feel better about them. We leave college, young, free, bright-eyed and enter the cruel world and realize we aren’t that important. There are hundreds of other people vying for the same thing and somewhere in the fray we wake up with kids and cellulite and wonder what the hell happened.
We weren’t able to find the job we are entitled to have and then all the MLM companies come rushing over to the dimming young moms in an attempt to convince us that they can completely change our lives. We can live the American Dream if we just sign up, sell someone else’s products for a measly profit and break our backs to convince our friends and family they need the things we are selling. While we sit on whatever degree it is we are still paying off student loans for that benefit this venture not.
Some of them DO become success stories! I get it. It works for you and you can buy your new car and go on lavish vacations while the rest of us didn’t get the memo.
That’s not for everyone. Just like not everyone enjoys going #2 with every family member jammed into the room with you. There is no secret code to momming. You just have to WORK really hard and know that nobody will care about it. Whatever IT is. But you CAN have passions to light your mom fire. And you should.
But I digress.
The point of this is to say – I am just a mom and I’m TOTALLY cool with that.
Sure mother sounds fancier… it probably carries more weight. More importance. Mother has a 9-5 that actually pays a salary and she goes to brunches and book clubs with the other mothers who remember to brush their hair before they leave the house. Maybe she runs the company she works for and knows how to small talk appropriately. She knows how to clip coupons and actually brings them when she buys groceries – unless she’s the one that invented the app and then she just has them delivered while she schedules her kid’s next cello lesson.
Or there’s the stay-at-home mother who has all the cutest arts and crafts at the ready and more patience than a saint to even consider pulling them out. She goes on all the play dates and doesn’t allow screens “there’s no time for that!” She showers and shaves her legs and smells lovely.
But does this make that mother better than me?
THAT’S the problem I have with people these days. The fact that we even have to consider this thought.
I applaud those of you who have managed to navigate the world of selling stuff to people and seem to maintain a steady income off of it. I am in awe of the working mom and have no clue how they do it. THAT’S doing it all. I have no desire to pay too much money for my kid to join a sport where we will end up watching her aimlessly twirl around on a soccer field.
When she can walk across the house without running into a wall… maybe.
But, I think those moms who can do IT ALL are a mix between Mary Poppins and Rosie the Riveter. And when I say working moms, I mean the ones who manage to get their children dressed for school, pack the lunch, fight traffic, figure out what to do when the kid gets a fever and can’t stay in day care, goes to their office, gets to their meeting on time, makes it to soccer practice AND remembers to get all the gear FOR practice… that shit is impressive.
I find my job pretty easy. My uniform is some form of workout clothes. I don’t have to look presentable if I don’t want to… I’m sure the other mother’s at Cori’s preschool respect my efforts in applying deodorant (you’re welcome), and I have the luxury of getting all of the boring household duties done during the day so that when my husband gets home… we can do family shit. Fun shit. Like tell our kids that their amateur chalk drawings are genius, or discuss bills, or (if we are really lucky) watch a whole movie after the kids go to sleep without passing out on the couch that does NOT have goldfish crumbs all over them because I got to vacuum that day.
My book may never hit the big time – my dream is that it will… and the ones that come after. If it doesn’t… I’m not going to start selling essential oils. My job is here… it’s to be a mom and pray that my kids turn out to be functioning members of society and know how to file taxes.
Right now one of them is licking a couch cushion, so my standards are realistically set.
Mother covers a lot of areas I may never excel at and I admire those that can.
But mom… THIS mom… is a writer, a laundry folder, a grout cleaner, a wiper of asses, a taxi, a wife, a stain remover, a chef and a half-ass gardener. My umbrella covers things that bring zero monetary value. My only true wish is that one day, when my children are older, they’ll be proud of me and all my mediocre successes in being ‘Just a Mom’.