Once Upon A Tuesday
I wake to a sharp pain and Space Commander Joe declaring me an intruder. I sit bolt upright in bed. I turn to see the Space Commander glaring at me from behind a scratched helmet visor. A knot on my forehead forms. My lips curl back to expose most of my gums. “Logan!” I growl to the tussled haired gremlin behind the action figure.
“Did that hurt, Mom?”
“Yes!” I hiss.
“Huh.” He says, quizzically looking at his plastic doll. “Zap didn’t even break. He’s SUPER STRONG!” And buzzes out of the room making whooshing space commander sounds.
I hear my husband groan.
“Heck of a way to wake up, huh?” I say still trying to rub the pain from my left lobe.
“I didn’t wake up until you barked at Logan.” He says rolling over.
Sorry my concussion disturbed your slumber, Darling. Coffee?
Since I am up anyway, I collect my “Family Organizer Binder”, my “Kiddie Kalendar Spiral”, my “Mommy’s Portable Memory Book” and my “Keepin’ It Together Folder” and head out to the computer. I switch it on and wait, pen poised. The computer comes to life, assaulting me with reminders of the tasks, appointments and activities I have lined up for today. While mapping a course for pick-ups, drop-offs and bank stops, my children remind me they need breakfast. I slap two frozen waffles in the toaster and nuke some day-old coffee in the microwave for myself. With the kids at the table covered in syrup but eating contentedly, I check the clock to see if I have time for a shower. Looks like another day of talcum and air freshener. After breakfast, I wrestle the kids into outfits that do not match, but cover all the parts that should be covered. As my husband is walking out the door, I race by and plant a kiss on him with such force I worry that I’ve chipped a tooth. Unfortunately, the force of the kiss is not produced from passion but by the fact that I was mid stumble, having tripped over a four inch tall truck left in the middle of the floor. The kids are chewing on their toothbrushes, which seems good enough hygiene to me. I load the two kids and the twelve toys they each need to bring into the car. Getting in the driver’s side, I buckle up, sit back, sigh and think to myself “What the hell happened to me?”
I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, I am blessed to have children. At least that is what they tell me, that I am blessed. They say children are blessings and that I should count my blessings. Which are two. Two currently very dirty blessings who look like they may have gotten into my baking mix again. But my life before, my Single-With-Out-Children (henceforth to be referred to as SWOC) life, was blessed in a different way. At least there was some semblance of sanity to it.
In my SWOC life, I was a decent example of the female race. I did not have a heroic job, but I was good at the ordinary job I had. I took care of myself. I had friends; friends who had a variety of interests and could discuss myriad topics. I was able to follow a TV series while it aired. And I used to love the taste of wine. I don’t taste wines now. I drink them, when they are in my hand, but I don’t taste them. I used to savor every moment I had with my glass of wine. I would let the velvety liquid roll on my tongue and make a game of how many flavors I could identify. Now the game is to see how much I can throw back before one of my children knocks my glass over.
No mother alive needs to be told that their SWOC life and their life as a mother are different. Single women do not need an explanation either. How many friends have they lost to a runny nosed toddler’s schedule? One by one, those “inseparable girlfriends” drop out of Girls Night and only show up to lunch with child in tow.
But this is not my story. My story is elsewhere. My story is in the fairy tale of motherhood, or the elusiveness of that fairy tale. Magazines blanket the shelves with bylines proclaiming the Joys of Motherhood. Celebrities allege that their million-dollar lifestyles are meaningless compared to the profundity of being a mother. Media outlets bombards you with the idea that maternity will supersede any positive feeling you’ve felt previous. The World of Motherhood became more attractive that Alice’s Wonderland, the Vikings’ Valhalla or Hilton’s Shangri-La. With this conditioning, I entered into motherhood willingly and eagerly. And now I wait. I wait for the utopian feeling to come; the rush of euphoria promised me; the ultimate rapturous payoff to be found as a mother that justifies all of my sacrifices.
The reality is that either I suck at being a mother or being a mother sucks.
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