Dear Mamas, Y’all B!tches Crazy

His mother puts him down and the child wails. He immediately spins around and lunges toward her wanting to be held. In his frustration the boy spins around again, screams and pounds his fists into his father’s thighs. The man reacts quickly, jumping back from the boy, embarrassed in front of the crowd. He bats the kid’s head back and forth like a cat with a ball of yarn. The boy wails louder. The man yells, “Yeah boy! Keep that shit up and I’ll knock you upside the head again!”

The boy can’t be more than eighteen months old.

It’s at this point that I stop staring, because clearly this man’s stupid and I don’t want to get into a confrontation. We get a few steps farther away. The kids run up ahead toward the next zoo exhibit. I turn to Rob and say, “See? We’re doing just fine. Our kids are going to be fine.”

zoo

The next day I’m watching my son’s gymnastics class. I love gymnastics, love watching him, hate listening to the other parents talk to each other. I grew up doing competitive gymnastics so listening to people ask ridiculous questions without knowing the proper terminology drives me bat-shit crazy. “Why are they having them hop on all fours on the beam like that? What’s that flippy thing they’re making them do on the bars?” Aaaaaah! Do us all a favor, go sign your kid up for soccer and get the fuck out of the gym.

Sorry, that was unnecessarily intense. But hey, so am I. Also, don’t talk to me while I’m practicing my floor routine.

Wait.

What?

gymnastics

Anyway, the parents at gymnastics are also annoying to listen to because frankly most parents have no idea what they sound like. They talk ad nauseam about the activities their kids are in. They do the humble brag. They talk about obnoxious mind numbing things every parent says while making small talk. “Well, it was weird because it just started as a runny nose, and he had a fever of 103 the first night. But then he was totally fine the next day. But then he woke up this morning coughing really bad. So I called the pediatrician but they could only get him in with the PA, and not until 2:00. Hello!? That’s right in the middle of nap time. I mean, why don’t they keep any other slots open for sick visits. God, it’s SO annoying, and . . .”

Oh my God. Please shut up. Just shut up.

I just sit and watch my boy, silently.

Then I get sucked into a conversation with these two women about the gym I go to. There are two major gyms in town. Both offer two and a half hours of childcare a day. I tell them how my husband was joking that I should join both gyms. That way I could hangout in the cafe at one and work out at the other. Then this conversation occurs.

Her:  Oh I actually know someone who does that. (Turning to her friend, dressed completely in Lululemon) You remember Sara?

Friend:  (rolling her eyes) Oh, yeah. I do.

Me:  Wait, you know a stay-at-home-mother who actually does that? So this is real. There’s someone out there who’s pulling this off?

Her:  Yeah, but it’s because she’s a really bad Mom. Like she should have never had a second kid let alone the first one.

Friend:  God, I don’t know how she does that. I mean when I teach Pilates I feel guilty even putting Everly in the daycare for two hours. I don’t know how you could have your kid in daycare for five hours a day!

Mmmmmmkay.

Alright folks I’m gonna give it to you straight here. Now I don’t know Sara but I bet she’s not a “really bad Mom.” Sara, who puts her kids in daycare for five hours a day. Sara, who maybe “shouldn’t have had kids.” Sara, the Mom who probably should have gone back to work immediately. You know, like the majority of mothers. The ones who have to put their kids in daycare much longer than five hours a day because they didn’t have the option to stay home. The mothers who were probably sitting right there within earshot.

This is fun! Hey, while we’re at it let’s say some other obnoxious entitled shit like, “Why even have a baby if you’re not going to raise it?” Or my personal favorite, “Well, I just think a mother is supposed to be with her babies.”

Yes, please tell me again where a mother is “supposed to be.” Tell me where a woman belongs. I love that conversation. I love talking about a woman’s place, especially with other women. It just feels right, wholesome.

Wait, hold up. While we’re chatting let me kick off these fucking rock star boots and get my ass back in the kitchen.

Let me just tell you that putting your child in a clean, well run daycare at an upscale health club is not child abuse. If you think this is child abuse you have lived an incredibly sheltered life. Talk to an ER nurse, a police officer, or a social worker and you will hear stories that will leave you wishing you could scrub your brain out with bleach. Now, I’m not saying that we should all slack off and console ourselves with, “Hey, at least I’m not shooting up heroine while my baby eats dog food.” What I’m saying is you’re not that important. I mean, sure, mother is God in the eyes of the child, blah blah blah. Pressure pressure pressure. But ask yourself this, when you look back on your favorite childhood memory, does it involve your Mom? I’m guessing not. It probably involves your best friend.

Not enjoying being around a whiney three-year-old all day doesn’t mean you’re a bad mother. It means you’re not good with preschoolers. Maybe you’ll rock the hell out of raising angsty teens. And let’s stop throwing around that label, “Bad Mom.” Because being a bad mother is just about the worst thing a woman can be. So if we’re calling a woman that’s found a loophole in the gym daycare matrix a bad mother, what do we call the ones that lose their children to the foster care system?

But really isn’t the bigger issue here that these gymnastics parents are just a bunch of entitled whiney little rich kids? I wanted to slap the Starbucks out of their manicured hands and yell “Y’all bitches crazy!” Then jump up on my chair and start stomping around like I was Kanye West.

What?

Anyone want to come with me to my son’s gymnastics class next Monday and talk shit about other moms?

Who Ever Said We Were Supposed To Enjoy It?

Motherhood.

It seems like everyone does it, billions and billions of people, but damn if it isn’t hard. My whole generation seems to feel the need to talk about how hard it is. It’s like we’re all just a bunch of overgrown children turning to each other in line at the grocery store, “You have kids? Me too! Man, this shit is hard. How did our parents make this look so easy?”

Like who the hell am I now, I will never be the same again, hard.

And I liked myself before.

Maybe our society isn’t set up for motherhood. There’s no communal support. No babies running close by in the fields burning off that energy while we hang laundry, or tend a fire, or feed chickens. All the while together.

The women all together, suffering it mutually.

Enjoying it mutually.

There are only fences to climb, couches to jump on and endless hours of screen time on a winter day to squash the boundless preschool energy. Energy that could leave a little boy hit by a car or snatched by a stranger. There are nights to lie awake wondering how badly their little brains are being distorted by too much TV.

There are Mamas at desks, in cubicles, hooked up to pumps in a broom closet at work, and babies always sick from daycare. There are the other Mamas at home, with greasy hair and un-brushed teeth with the laundry and dishes still not done.

crazy

I know there are other mothers who feel they’re doing it well.

I’m not talking to those mothers.

There are spouses wondering why it’s so damn hard to get the laundry done, the kitchen cleaned, and the dinner cooked. Even the most feminist of spouses eventually grows accustomed to their wife being home. They forget it’s temporary. They begin to see themselves as bread winners, “heads of household.” They forget their wives have dreams, goals. They forget to view them as people. They focus on their own careers. They find reasons to stay late at work to avoid screaming toddlers. It is how they make all the money after all, and goddamit that’s important! They pat themselves on the back because their wife has the luxury of staying home.

With the babies.

Alone.

glove

There are grandmothers who don’t help out because they “already raised kids.”

And here is the rub, no one is enjoying it. I mean, really enjoying it, like on the daily. Because when we go it alone without mothers, husbands, aunts, sister-in-laws, cousins, neighbors and friends, things become a lot less enjoyable. A toddler will not sit down and share coffee with you. They also won’t go play outside alone, nor should they. And in desperation they won’t even sit and watch a movie, not all the way through.

And yes, we know to “cherish every moment” which makes the uncherished moments all the more guilt inducing. We really do enjoy motherhood in all the ways we knew we would. It’s just that those ways are few and far between, and they bookend a whole lot of whining, crying, demanding, defying, jumping, “whooshing,” yelling and messing.

For me, motherhood is something I longed for. I always wanted early nights, bedtime routines, trips to Disneyland, G-rated movies and story time at the library. I wanted everyone around the Christmas tree. I needed to see the world through a child’s eyes. I needed to love on my babies, to whisper in their ear, “I’ve got you. Mama’s here, Mama’s always here,” in order to heal my broken heart. Because as much fun as a night at the bar can be, the bottom of a bottle always left me empty.

So, what if we confronted a different truth?

What if we questioned the idea that we’re supposed to enjoy it? I’m fairly certain many of our grandmothers didn’t enjoy it. They just married and had kids because it’s what you did.

Some of them loved it.

Some of them took Valium.

What if we admitted that motherhood isn’t 100% fulfilling and it’s damn sexist to expect it to be?

Let’s admit this. Then let’s find our own tribe.

For me, in the suburbs, this looks a little different than children running in the fields while the women tend the fire. It looks like packing the kids up and driving my filthy minivan to a health club where they get checked into a daycare for two and a half glorious hours. It looks like me listening to music while I workout, then meet up with like minded Mamas for a shvitz in the steam room. After showers we spend an hour in the café drinking coffee and commiserating. Hell, sometimes we skip the first two steps and just have coffee for the full two and a half hours.

To my solo Mamas, my stay-at-home Mamas, my working Mamas and my military Mamas far from family, I say this, you aren’t supposed to enjoy it all the time. It’s ok if some days you hate it. But if you seek out some other mothers who you can laugh with, you will suffer it mutually. You will enjoy it mutually.

You will enjoy it.