Category Archives: Ah Motherhood

Sorry kids, I don’t feel like being a mom

Sorry kids, I don’t feel like being a mom

One of the things I’m most proud of is my ability to discuss menopause.  And I love that about my generation generally.  I deplore euphemisms like “the change”.  Ugh.  Aren’t we grownups?  So I think for me and my friends, menopause is a health issue, an inevitability.  And a source for huge laughs and lots of commiseration.  It’s no different than arthritis.  It can be discussed without shame or embarassment.

So I’m at my office talking about menopause with my co-worker Belinda who is about ten years older than I am.  She has successfully navigated the menopause waters and is a big help.  Unlike my 70 year old mother who gets wildly uncomfortable when she senses the conversation turning to hormones and can’t we change the subject for God’s sake?

Belinda told me about a great book on menopause.  I looked it up and read a chapter or two.  I was thrilled and relieved to discover that a weird thing I’ve been experiencing is actully part of menopause for some women.  My toes cramp and cross over.  It’s seriously referred to as flat toe.  For months I’ve been worred that it was the first sign of a significant neurological disorder and I’ve been afraid.  But no, it’s hormones.  Evidence that I’m getting old.  Awesome!

In addition to the freaky behavior of female extremities, the book discusses how empowering this time of your life can be.  And not solely because you can own sex without pregnancy, but also because the hormones that provide care giving instincts, the compromisers and the accommodaters, start to lose their oomph.  You no longer have the urge to mother people and make sure they feel good or cook nourishing meals for everyone and keep the house perversely clean.  It gives women a killer instinct at just the time in their career arch when they need it.  I probably won’t surprise anyone that there is a divorce spike during this time – my divorce came right on cue.

Of course someone will need to tell my six year old why I think he should drive himself to school and make his own dinner, but that’s okay.  I won’t care since that mothering instinct is a distant memory.  Really they should tell women this stuff before they delay motherhood.

By the time you become a mom, you won’t feel like it any more.

It’s a big adventure

It’s a big adventure

I was laying down with my youngest little boy tonight.

Me:        You use to be so little!

Sam:      One day I’ll be 100 years old!

Me:        Make it 150!

Sam:      And you’ll be dead!

Me:        Maybe I’ll die on a big adventure….

Sam:      Like in the desert.  I don’t want you to die.

Me:        I promise I won’t die until you don’t need me any more.

Sam:      I’ll always need you, so you’ll always be here?

Me:        For as long as you need me!

I started thinking.  And I’ll let you in on a secret:  I think in weird loops so here goes.  I started thinking it’s interesting that children see the end of your life story, not the beginning.  I see the beginning of theirs, but if everything goes the way it’s suppose to, I’ll never know how their story ends.  Thinking about my children dying then made me wonder why I had them in the first place.  Thinking of them dying, maybe in pain, maybe alone…. ugh.

So from there I went to thinking that’s a good reason for me to tell my childless friends why their occasional doubts about their decision (or unintended consequence) to stay childless is really ok:  you don’t ever have to ponder your children dying.

Then I had a mental argument with myself.

Me:        Dying, so what?  The joy that your children will feel will far overwhelm any pain or anguish that comes into their lives.

Me2:     That’s bullshit.  Where in your life experience can you say your joy has surpassed your anguish?

Me:        OK.  That’s a good point.  It does seem like the stress and anguish far  outweigh the joy.  But maybe that’s because anguish happens to you and you have to get off your ass and create joy.  Joy doesn’t just happen.  It takes effort.  Anguish happens.  If you want more joy, if you don’t want to be laying on your death bed thinking the scale tips toward disappointment, then you have to do something about it. You have to create it.

Me2:     You’re a self-righteous bitch.  What you’re suggesting is I laugh more, I make more friends, I seek out moments of happiness and enjoyment, I see the positive side.  Oh good God, that means making an effort.  And I’m tired.  You know that.

Me:        Get off your ass.  Do it now.  I don’t want to linger in the shadows with you.

OK so all of this happened in about two minutes.  Most of it while brushing my teeth watching Sam trying to lay flat under the sheets so I wouldn’t see him.  My God, I remember doing that with my mother.  In Oklahoma.  In the bedroom she grew up in.  The beginning of her life story which I would know nothing about.

Today my almost ex-husband decided to scrap the dissolution we’ve been working two years on.  For a marriage he desperately wanted to end, he can’t seem to let it go.  And that little bit of anguish will continue.

Tomorrow I’m going to a 5 year old birthday party.  I’m going to solidify friendships with these new people in my life.  I’m going to laugh really hard and leave my phone number with at least one other mom to set up a play date.  I really don’t want my life burdened by anguish.  I don’t want to leave that model for my children.

When I die on my big adventure in the desert, I want my kids to know I was laughing.

Hanging on!

Hanging on!

One of the things that has always stood out for me is Jane’s natural motherhood. I have never observed a mother so calm and consistent with her screaming brood, the youngest constantly hanging from her like a chimpanzee in a safe jungle, not skipping a beat in our conversation as he swings from her left arm to her neck and then upside down off her torso. The kid’s got Cirque de Soleil written all over him.

Jane is unflappable, and her wry humor has served her well. I love those boys, and after an evening of running around making sure they are not maiming themselves or each other, I realize that you either have it or you don’t. She’s got it. I’ve got cats.

Babysitter, may I?

Babysitter, may I?

Babysitters are powerful.  More than they know.  I hope.  Perhaps the most powerful little creatures in the world.  With their iPhones, earbuds, skateboards and bubble gum.  They quietly pull the strings of my life.

Even if your stable of sitters is three or four deep, you can’t get overconfident.  They all do the same stuff together.  Homecoming is the same for everybody.  Spring break trips they take together.  You have to select sitters with a strategy:  one actress, one academic, one cheerleader, one who is lost in the crowd.  Spread them out across the school’s clubs and calendar of activities.

I recently noticed that my life revolves around these activities, weekend visits with out of town dads and boyfriends in college coming back to town.  Whether or not I can go to a parent-teacher conference or an open house is dependent on a fifteen year old’s play rehearsals and volleyball tournaments.

I recently heard myself tell my Boyfriend Candidate “I’ll check with my sitter to see if I can go.”  The ludicrosity of it didn’t occur to me until later.  My young life spent asking my parents for permission to go out.  Married in midlife, it was another seventeen years of checking with him first to make sure I wasn’t needed elsewhere.  And now that he’s gone, I have to check with the sitter.

I’m wondering if there really is any such thing as independence.  And I’m guessing not when you have kids.  Interestingly, it’s not just your children who make you interdependent, it’s their support staff:  the sitters, the grandparents, the coaches, the tutors.  It all structures my life in a way that leaves me ordered but out of control.

Now I’m thinking I’ll have to wait for the kids to graduate from college and get out of the house.  Two events that will coincide only if I’m very lucky.

I suppose it’s possible that when that time comes, I’ll have to check with the nurse at my assisted living facility to see if I can get a weekend pass.