There comes a time in many women’s lives when they make a startling realization. For me, that time came last week. I haven’t become my mom (I should be so lucky). No, it dawned on me that I’ve become that mom.
You know that one I’m talking about.
I took my older daughter, 3-year-old Petunia, to get skis (because I’m that mom who waited until two days before ski school started to think about getting her equipment and then reacted with shock — shock! — when there were no more bargains to be had), at which time she had a nuclear tantrum in the store because I stubbornly insisted she not bang my younger daughter, 5-month-old Peony, on the head with the force of an Iron Chef in a race against time to remove the shells from a pod of crustaceans using a mallet.
“But I want to touch her!” she hollered in the crowded shop.
“Leave her alone!” I hollered back.
“No!” she screeched.
“Then we’re leaving,” I growled and grabbed her arm just tightly enough for all of the eyes already glued on us to wonder if they should scramble and make an emergency call to Child Protective Services.
That’s when she pulled away from me, threw herself on the floor and rolled up into a little ball.
“OK, see you later,” I said, swiftly wheeling Peony in her stroller out the door, which an employee kindly held for me. He kept the door open, assuming I’d wait for Petunia. I didn’t. He looked at me with great alarm. I looked at him with great indifference.
He appeared relieved when I allowed her to catch up with me on the sidewalk as she ran out of the store all panicked and crying. I rolled my eyes. It was the same thing a few days earlier when Petunia refused to stand anywhere but squarely on my feet while I attempted to get me, her, Peony, a stroller, a car seat, three carry-ons, one pair of shoes, two bottles of liquid, a computer and three jackets through security at the airport. I’m that mom who has given up caring how I appear to strangers when I scream bloody murder at my kid after she has done something that would warrant me actually murdering her in bloody fashion. That’s how moms like me roll, apparently.
I’m that mom who has stopped bickering about why Goldfish crackers are not appropriate at 7:45 in the morning and just silently hands them over instead. I’m also that mom who has sent her kid to preschool with a cough louder than a chorus of barking Dobermans. I mean, clearly my kid got the cough from other kids whose moms likewise sent them to school with runny noses. Their moms are those moms, too, so I’m sure we can all just nod our heads in tacit solidarity, buy some Robitussin (because only moms like us would allow a kid younger than 5 to ingest that stuff) and move on.
Mind you, I’m not just that mom when it comes to my older daughter. My younger daughter is also the victim of my that-mom-ness. You know how you hear the stories of people forgetting their babies and you think, “Who does that?”
Um, me, actually. That’d be me. I’ve never actually left Peony somewhere, per se, but there have been some close calls. Like when she was 2 weeks old and my parents flew out for a visit. I drove them to their hotel and got out of the car.
“I’ll come inside with you to check in,” I said to my dad.
“I’ll stay in the car with the baby,” my mom volunteered.
Oh, right. The baby. The baby is in the car.
Last month I asked my husband if we should take advantage of him having a rare weekday off and take Petunia to see an afternoon showing of the “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movie.
“You can take her if you want,” he said. “I’ll stay home with Peony.”
Ah, yes. The baby. I forgot about the baby. She’s just so damn quiet, which is a new kind of problem in our family.
And I’m now that mom who stares at the clock in the afternoon and decides confidently that 4:15 isn’t too early for a glass of wine. And if the neighbors give one another knowing looks when they see me refill my glass for the second (OK, third) time by 5:30? Well, then I’m also that mom whose revenge fantasies help lull her to sleep at night with a practically imperceptible but unmistakably evil smile on her face.
I’m OK with being that mom, although for my daughters’ sake I hope I some day can evolve into that other kind of mom who is all Zen-like and hears and sees nothing but birds chirping and flowers blooming when she gazes at her offspring. But that probably will require one of them to be a bit quieter and the other one to be a bit louder. So apparently I’m also that mom who is in dire need of a reality check.
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