Some days I step back and think, am I really a mommy? Two kids and three years into this whole thing and some days I’m still surprised. Me, mommy? When I was a teenager, my mom used to ask me if her outfit looked ok and I’d reply, “sure, for a mom” and she’d kind of glare at me. But in my mind, at that time, it made sense. Mom’s weren’t supposed to be hot or always be in style or have the perfect outfit on anyways. That was my impression of moms growing up. Is that me?
My girlfriend and I were laughing over a cute 20-something at our church who always has on the most adorable sky high heels and we can’t imagine wearing heels like those now. I told me girlfriend that we are in the “damn it, I still look good because” stage. Because I’ve carried and bore two children. Because I don’t have a personal trainer or chef or full time nanny or infinite clothing allowance. Because I no longer have those I-work-out-an-hour-a-day abbs. Because the twins are no longer quite as perky after breastfeeding two children.
I used to wear heals. I used to wear them all the time. A random woman once commented to me in Whole Foods, “I love to see a tall girl wearing heals!” I realize that I used to wear heals because I used to stroll everywhere. I used to stroll through the market, examining my options, and placing them thoughtfully in my basket (back in the day when a week’s worth of groceries could fit in a basket…and back in the day when I actually strolled through a market) tucked neatly on my arm. Now I wear sensible mom shoes because I have to RUN everywhere. I RUN to get the blanket from upstairs for my wailing little man. I RUN to pick up the squawking baby who has woken up first from naps. I RUN to get to preschool on time to pick up little man because I have too much to do in life to serenely stroll in early. I RUN.
But of course I do my best to find cool mom shoes that don’t look like mom shoes. Like my Vans or my giraffe print flats or my 1-inch healed cowboy boots. Am I fooling anyone? I think I’m running from the 16-year-old voice still in my head that says for a mom. I’m cool for a mom. I look put together for a mom. I look fit for a mom.
Last May, with my ballooning belly, husband tried to put old bucket car seat in our little Rav4 next to little man’s toddler car seat to see if they would both fit. No such luck. So off to the dealers we went to survey our options and a few weeks later we had a Hylander sitting in our garage. I was desperately trying to get the I’m still cool car that still sat 7 as I contemplated my future role as carpool mom. At the same time, my girlfriend needed to get a larger car for her burgeoning family and she texted me from the car lot, “I’m totally getting a minivan.” The tone was head hung low, tail between the legs…total failure. She had failed at coolness and she knew. And the hilarious part was, she didn’t care. Oh how far the mighty have fallen.
It’s like I’m working so hard not to be the mommy of my mom’s generation—but what was wrong with that? Our 60’s and 70’s moms were the ones who often made mommyhood their sole job title because they believed that raising us was the most important thing they could do. Most of my little friends mom’s, growing up, didn’t work. They led our girl scout troop, monitored our after school play dates, fixed home cooked dinners every night, and carted us from piano lessons to soccer practice.
I’m the one trying to juggle kids and work and frozen Trader Joes food that miraculously become risotto in our saucepan. It’s like somehow I’ve failed if I fully submit myself to mommyhood and embrace it alone. Which means I never have time for anything and wonder if I’m doing nothing well. Do we, in our generation, just have higher expectations for ourselves? Or is everyone, like me, running from this phantom mommy that for some reason we really don’t want to be though we’re not really sure why?
For some reason, having my second child has forced me to own mommyhood more than before. Maybe it’s that I really don’t have any self time anymore and I’ve just given up. I’m a mommy. My chief job in life is mommy.
We went on vacation last week in Ixtapa, Mexico (more stories to come, I promise) and upon return, people kept asking me, “did you get to relax?” Ha! My friend told me about a bumper sticker that reads you know you’re a mom when a trip is a lot of work and going to Target by yourself is a vacation. Relaxing? Ha!
“A bit,” I would reply. The kids still took afternoon naps and husband and I holed up in our air conditioned suite and read most of the time (I actually read a novel for the first time in a year! Lisa See’s Dreams of Joy was awesome). “But,” I would add, “I probably had more fun than on previous trips.” There was just something so fun about jumping through waves with little man, floating baby girl in pink sunglasses through the pool in her blow up baby inter tube, and dancing around with little man at the kid’s shows (that you really can’t do kid-less) that added a whole new dimension of fun.
So what does it mean to be mommy? I guess it’s just flat-shoed fun. And I guess I just have to embrace it in my own way—with my trying to be cool mom car and frenetic frozen Trader Joes food juggle.