I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now, but couldn’t move forward because I have been looking for a quote. Well, not just any quote. The quote in question, which I’m pretty sure came from “The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing” encapsulated for me the type of household that I wanted to have I was a mom. Before I was married, before I had kids, I had an idea of what kind of place my house would be, what kind of parent I would be. It was an idea, a framework upon which to build. There were pieces of my own childhood as part of the construction, there were pieces from “The Cosby Show” and “Family Ties”, and maybe a little “Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle” thrown in. And then, there was the quote, which I cannot find and leads me to wonder if I just made it all up.
What I remember reading (and I’m pretty sure it came from TGGTHF), was a description of a house the protagonist visited when she sought escape from her own less than Brady Brunch family. What I remember was the description of the pantry and the fridge (food-a-holic, much?), specifically, slices of luncheon meat wrapped in pristine white butcher paper and how the whole place was never off limits for a kid who wanted a snack. In my minds eye, I see creamy maple cabinets and drawers, a double door stainless steel fridge that when opened glowed with gastronomic possibilities. There was a coffee pot and a cup of coffee that was perpetually hot. Kids would come in and out, grabbing snacks and drinks with a “Thanks, Mrs. ___ “, before heading off to other areas of the house where they would do whatver it was kids of their particular age did. And I would preside over hearth and home, never having to wonder that they were up to no good. That! That was the type of kitchen, the type of homey-home that I wanted to cultivate for my 2.5 kids when the time came. Such a simple description elicited such a deep in the bone response in me, I’m still surprised as how strongly I feel it.
I’ve been thinkng about motherhood quite a bit for the past few days. The days are long, but the years are short. How often have I heard that quote? Too many times to count. I started reading this book called, “All Joy, No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood,” by Joy Senior. I started reading it; I put it down a few pages in because I was reading about my own struggle as a mother and feeling all the feels associated with it.
I flipped on Jimmy Fallon the other week and was thisclose to writing Jerry Seinfeld a fan letter after he confessed to not “being a great believer in our style of parenting.” Those words alone had me pitched forward in my seat to see what he had to say. He followed up by saying, “Anybody who has kids now, I think we’re just too into it.” Hello! Could you imagine what kind of uproar there would have been had a woman said that?! Jerry was preaching to the choir and drove it all home with his description of the bedtime routine, Chez Seinfeld.
“The bedtime routine for my kids is like this Royal Coronation Jubilee Centennial of rinsing and plaque and dental appliances and the stuffed animal semi-circle of emotional support. And I’ve gotta read eight different moron books. You know what my bedtime story was when I was a kid? Darkness!”
Yes, Jerry! Yes! I am with you on this 100%. And yet, I am disappointed, too, because my agreement with him on how things were and how things are went at odds with how I had imagined things to be prior to putting a toe into the parenting pool. In my dream, I was just someone’s mom. My make-believe kids didn’t even have names or distinct features. I don’t even know how many I had! Now, I’ve got three little girls that I am consciously and unconsciously shaping into respectable human beings. I’ve got parameters within which to work, and my actions could classify me in any number of ways. Am I a Tiger Mom? A Helicopter Parent? A Mom-tator? Does it really matter? Do I really care?
Sometimes I wonder what in the world I’m doing. How did anyone let me be responsible for the well being of these glitter covered pig-tailed bundles of questions? Sometimes I wonder I’ll be found out for a fraud who is flying by the seat of her pants, making it up as she goes along, pulling snippets of good advice from TV and fortune cookies, trying to keep the F-bombs to a minium. And then, there are other days. . .
Sometimes, I’ve got it under control. There haven’t been any squabbles to squash. No one cried when they were getting their hair done. Improptu acts of kindness, acts of love and silliness reign supreme. This past week-end, we were all fully engaged and present. We played board games and watched “The Property Brothers”. The kitchen churned out pancakes — and everyone ate them! — and spaghetti and meatballs and snacks that everyone enjoyed. There were naps, quiet playtime, books read and movies watched. It was Rockwellian in its domesticity and I willed myself to remember, remember, remember. I’ve talked before about how when my girls are grown, I want them to reflect on their childhoods with smiles and funny stories about that time we did that thing and how funny it was. Even as I type it, I realize that instead of focusing on a future that reminisces about the past, I need to be in the present to create it. I think I just up-ended the space time continuum with that sentence. The point is, I’m working on it. I’m aware of how fortunate I am. I’m aware of what a great life I have and I’m not going to be like Colette about it. I can be Hilary with One L and I can be a photographer and a writer and wife and and wear whatever else type of hat I want and choose to put on. I be all of those things, which is being myself. If I demonstrate that to my girls, cultivate that in them for themselves, that’s the mom I’m supposed to be.
And I’m supposed to have maple cabinets with granite counter tops and a Viking Range,. I’m just sayin’. . .