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Monday, May 18, 2015

Motherhood Check-In

So this morning started out well - and by well I mean poorly. I rearranged the carpool schedule to make it to a physical therapy appointment at 8 am, at a place twenty minutes away, because everything is twenty minutes away from me, except the coffee shop and the library, the reasons I liked this town; anyway, I arrived, parked askew because I was a minute late, and discovered that my appointment was for a different day. Yup. 

Then I had to decide whether to drive all the way home and then back out again for my next appointment (dermatologist for annual skin check), also twenty minutes away, or whether to go somewhere for coffee. Naturlich, I had no book with me, because I’d been running late. So I had to buy a magazine. So I went to the coffee shop near my next appointment and read Psychology Today

Well, so here’s a thing. Never one to miss an opportunity for reassurance, I finally did ask the dermatologist about my itchy feet. Remember those? The dermatologist said I had itchy feet because of dry skin - and offered a solution. The solution involves a solution, a solution of baking powder and water. I’m to soak my feet in this solution, then dry them, then apply a heavy moisturizing cream. I’m to do so for several days in a row, and then, voilà. This will make me feel better than getting a cheap pedicure at the local nail salon where the workers might be abused and poisoned, according to my favorite paper. 

In other news, in case you haven't noticed, both my children are teens now. This means that when I make myself available to them after school by lingering around the kitchen and doing dishes, there is no converstaion. Both are bowed over their electronic devices and simultaneously inhaling snacks. Silence is broken only by requests for money or signatures on school forms. 

At this point, I’m the chauffeur. They’ve figured out my old scam that allowed me to eavesdrop on their conversations. All I had to do back then, once upon a time, when they shushed one another in front of me, was say, “Oh, don’t worry. I can hear you, but I don’t know what you’re saying. I don’t speak kid.” Then they’d resume talking in front of me. "Don't worry, she doesn't speak kid," I heard one of them say to another friend once and I did a (internal) victory dance.

Those days are gone. Now I’m password-excluded from their Instagram and Tumblr accounts and text messages. Never mind that the experts insist parents should have those passwords and be checking those accounts regularly. Not happening in my house. I can’t remember my own passwords. What am I going to do about theirs? And they keep changing them anyway. And making other accounts that I don’t know about. Except that I know about their existence. 

At this point, as Madeleine Levine unreassuringly pointed out in her book Teach Your Children Well: Parenting for Authentic Success, my influence is basically nil. It’s all peers all the time now. So if I haven’t imprinted upon my offspring to this point, tough luck. "Tough titties" as we used to say with a giggle back in fourth grade. Childhood is really not a time of innocence, Readers.

On top of that, I read in the Sunday NYTimes that daughters of working mothers earn 23% more than daughters of stay-at-home-mothers (SAHM’s). This led to a (totally not at ALL defensive) conversation last night after our family meeting about how I am not “just” a SAHM. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Ahem, ahem. But that I do work professionally - I’m a writer. I just don’t earn any money to speak of. But I work. Do they think of me as working, I inquired? They, being somewhat clever children, quickly responded that of course they think of me as working. 

Then I said, "Well, my feeling is this. If it turns out that it is better for you that I am a working mother, then I am a working mother. If it is better for you that I am a SAHM, then that is what I am. Because that is what I’m about. What is best for you."

And I have to say, that gave at least one of them pause. I saw it. The pause it gave her. So there was a moment when one of them was listening. I’ll take it. 

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