Squashed flat

A friend of mine asked me about my “non-mom blog” and I had to tell her that I only had the two: one about The Child, for family consumption, and one about me, The Mom, for real people consumption. I have no non-mom blog. I am nothing but Mom.

It isn’t true, of course. I’m mostly mom, but I’m many things in addition. But the job of Mom is so huge and daunting that it’s hard not to get squashed flat by it.

First there’s the societal assumption that you’ve subsumed yourself into the role. My sister-in-law, B., once told me that she wasn’t herself anymore, just Mom. I remember thinking that she needed to grow a pair of balls. Or a spine. Or something. What I didn’t realize was that once I became a mom, other people would just… ignore me. I stopped being a person and became a baby-support system in their minds. We often drive three hours to see family, pull into the driveway, and when everyone rushes out, they don’t even say “Hello” to me, they just grab The Child from my arms and hug and kiss her. Strangers stop and talk to The Child without ever looking at me. People who know my name refer to me as “Mom.” It’s hard to maintain a real self under that onslaught of neglect.

But then there’s the overwhelming job of mom. I was thinking, today, about what one of Karrie‘s husband’s friends said to him. “What does she do all day?” I can’t speak for Karrie, but I can tell you what I do:

I make sure that The Child has had enough to eat. That means monitoring how much protein, complex and simple carbs, good fats, bad fats, fruits and vegetables she’s had. How much liquid she’s drunk. How much nursing she’s done. I balance all that against how much running around she’s done. I make sure she’s got her Omega-3s, her Vitamin D, her fifteen minutes exposure to the sun to process that vitamin D. But I make sure she’s got sunblock on the rest of the time.

I monitor how much goes in and then how much comes out. I change diapers 15 times a day and keep a watch for diaper rash. I wipe snotty noses and clean up the avacodo she smeared in her hair and the applesauce she tucked under her arms.

I shlep to doctor’s appointments and checkups and playgroups and the grocery store and the drug store and the bookstore.

I make sure that she’s warm but not overbundled. That she’s getting enough sleep. I make sure that she’s got a regular routine that she can depend on, and variety enough within that routine to stimulate her brain. I make sure she’s got downtime to play quietly and running around time and I make sure that they work in relation to her nap and eating schedule.

I try and model good behavior for her. That means eating organically and healthfully and locally. (Which means joining a CSA and picking up veggies every week and then figuring out what to do with ten pounds of spinach.) I try not to swear. I read — oh dear lord do I read. I read “The Runaway Bunny” seventy-eight times a frigging day. I read “Red Hat, Green Hat” and this tupid ass thing with fucking ducks and the rhymes aren’t even remotely close.

I do not read “The Big Red Barn.” That one accidentally got dropped in the toilet — by me. Twice.

I read Dr. Sears and Dr. Spock and Dr. Brazelton and Dr. Karp. I read the latest studies and then I read the meta-studies and then I read the analysis of the methodology of the latest meta-studies.  I read columns and articles and magazines.

I read the newspaper (online) and I listen to NPR and I try to keep abreast of politics — both local, state, national, and international. I read feministing.com and slate.com. And the Times and the WaPo and the Globe. I read Prevention and Brain, Child, and the Economist. (Okay, I skim the Economist.) Cause this shit affects my kid.

I plan field trips to give the Child new experiences and let her see new things. I research where to shop and where to eat because children aren’t welcome everywhere.  I walk two miles to get her to go to sleep and then rewalk the whole fucking route because she kicked off one of her brand-new shoes that her Grandmother spent $37  on.

I negotiate how much time (and when and where) she spends with her six grandparents, four great-grandparents, umpteen aunts and uncles. I try to figure out whether my mother’s four hours alone with the Child is worth The M-I-L spending eight hours with her but having to share with her parents. Does it matter who drove to who’s house? Of course.

I research and apply to pre-schools a year and a half before she is ready to go. I read on the latest theories of education and try to make a doll for her because that’s important in Waldorf education.  I try not to swear in front of her.
And I try to be a human being. I’m trying to lose 50 lbs. and go to the gym on a weekly basis. (HA!) I try to remember what it was like when sex was something I wanted — often. I try to make sure that The Husband gets his alone time with me and when the last time he had a dental cleaning was and why it’s important that the Pittsfield file is blowing up in his face at work. I make sure that birthday presents for family and friends arrive in the right month if not the right week and that we don’t buy the same thing for anyone two years in a row.

And that’s just this week.

Writing it all out like that, I’m amazed I don’t always feel flat as a pizza under a cement truck.

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  1. karrie
    May 25, 2007 at 11:42 am

    Amen.

    (Except I have lost the Battle of the Bad Words.)

    Some night soon, we need to go out and have a pitcher of sangria or margaritas or some other poison of your choice.

  2. May 26, 2007 at 1:21 am

    I made a list once, just of the things that I do an a regular basis (none of the spur-of-the-moment things or the last-minute-emergency things) and by the time I was done it was almost three pages long. Crazy and totally improbable, yet somehow, it does get done.

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