March 2012“You look overwhelmed,” said Daniel. “I’m just thinking about all the time I’m going to have to spend in the gym. I feel like I live here.” “You’re not here that much.” “Well I’m here at 5 a.m. until 7 a.m. and then I come after the kids are asleep, around 9:30 p.m. so I don’t get home till 11 p.m. and – “ “And you can’t fall asleep because your endorphins are on overdrive, right?” “Right.” “You need more sleep.” “But I try to not have my work outs impact my kids.” “We have Kids Club here. You could work out in the afternoons.” “But they don’t like Kids Club.” “Can’t you just be a mom and say, ‘You’re going?’”
Now, the short answer to his question was, “yes, of course,” but the more accurate answer really was “it depends.” See, Daniel is a young guy and has a dog but no kids, and until you have kids you really can’t understand that sometimes it’s not about you, it’s about what’s right for your kids.
Parenting today seems a lot different than when I grew up in the late 70’s. Take pregnancy, for example. When I was pregnant with Rylee and Henry I had no caffeine, no coffee, no soda, no alcohol, no sushi. I did not dye my hair and I exercised daily. When my mom was pregnant with me she smoked a pack a day and had the occasional cocktail to ‘take the edge off.’
As a child I can remember rolling around in the back of the station wagon (there were no seatbelts, let alone car seats, thank you very much) and going to the bowling alley. My mom bowled in the league with the other moms and I played in the babysitting area for hours it seemed. I don’t remember being bothered by it, but then again if I complained too loudly she would say, ‘knock it off, or I’ll smack you a shot.’ And by all measures, I had a very good childhood.
If someone caught me ‘smacking a shot’ at my kids they would probably record it on their smart phone and it would probably go viral and Congress would probably enact a law called the Anti-Smack-A-Shot-Law to prosecute abusive mothers. So I’m left to try to reason with my four-year-old at nursery school pick up, who is not necessarily the most reasonable child anyway.“Guess where we’re going today?” “Where?” “Kids Club!!” “No! I don’t want to go there, Mommy! Can’t we please go home?” “Why don’t you like Kids Club?” “Because they don’t let the moms in and I want to play with you.”
See Daniel? I’ll bet your dog doesn’t give you a guilt trip when you go to the gym.“Well, honey, we’ll play together after I work out.” “Can’t you work out at night when I’m asleep?” “Rylee, I’m getting too tired.” She was not interested in my exhaustion, so I switched tactics. “Look, I do lots of nice things for you and your brother like take you to nursery school in the mornings and take Henry to Spanish class. The gym is my fun thing to do.” “BUT I DON’T WANT TO GO TO KIDS CLUB! I WANT TO BE WITH YOU!!!!”
Then she began to sob, and I do mean sob. Not sniffle or cry or get misty. This was full blown sobbing and wailing at the top of her lungs. Then my two-year-old son started crying too. He didn’t even know what he was crying about.
Nine years later she was still screaming, I was stuck on the 35 in a traffic jam and I just snapped.“RYLEE, STOP SCREAMING!!!” I screamed at the top of my lungs. I realize this is not effective parenting but until shouting is outlawed I’m going to go with it. (My children had the nerve to look surprised.) “Rylee, I’m the Mommy and we are going to go to the gym and that’s that. Would you like me to stop home first for some peanut butter toast?”
“OK,” she sniveled, composing herself. I gave both kids snacks and milk and drove to the gym. I dropped them off at Kids Club, ignoring their sniffles, and headed to the treadmill completely frazzled.
I am the worst mother on the entire planet.
Then I put the Mother’s Curse on Daniel. According to Bill Cosby, the Mother’s Curse works something like this, “I hope one day when you grow up you have some children who act exactly like you do.” I don’t know what he was like as a child so my curse was, “I hope one day when you get married you will have some children who act exactly like mine!”
I finished my work out, showered and felt more relaxed. Endorphins will do that. Tentatively, I entered Kids Club…
“Mom, can you come back later?” asked Rylee. “Scooby Doo is on and it’s the good one.”
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