Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Name of the Game

Guest post courtesy of Crystal Rodriguez.  A bit about her …

About unglamorous! I'm a very young woman in her 20-10's. I'm a mother to two boys, 4 and 1. Married to my husband of 6 years. I'm a 'writer' (with very few publishings), blogger (seriously, who isn't anymore?), non-profit activist, non-conformist and habitual user of wet wipes. Worked in NJ/NYC for nearly 11 years in the financial industries and media, spanning corporate events planning and human resources. Majored in English Lit but have most recently decided to return to school and pursue a nursing degree.

My floors are never clean. I growl at my kids in public. At least once a week, I get a sympathetic glance from a stranger. Or an angry one. I love my kids and husband more than life itself, but I know why some mammals (and arachnoids) eat their offspring and mates.  I'm Not Perfect, I'm a Mom!

The Name of the Game

The other day, I was talking to a mom I met at the park. She had a new baby girl, just 3 months old. The baby, precious and teeny in her little pink stroller and wee ballet slippers, was a BEAST. I was immediately reminded of those first (I call them "sucky") three months and found myself wanting to hug her. She was obviously overwhelmed and had her hands way full. In addition to new-baby drama, there were major feeding issues and she was getting up at least four times a night.

“Probably because she’s so hungry, right? I mean, if she won’t stay on long enough for a full feeding and won’t take a bottle...” The new mom blinked her foggy eyes at me. “Oh, yeah. I never thought of that.”

Poor girl. We’ve all been there. After she got her baby to finally settle down in the stroller with a paci, we started to talk more in depth. I tried to answer her new-mom questions the best I could, and tried to give her some advice without sounding like a know-it-all. Because seriously, there is nothing more annoying than that. After we had chatted for a few minutes, I was able to coax a smile out of her when I said, “Yes, many times when my kids were new babies I would wonder why I even considered having sex”. Apparently feeling comfortable with me, she guiltily ‘confessed’ that her favorite time of the day was when the baby was sleeping.

“Is that horrible?” She asked, frowning.

“Are you kidding? I still love that time of day and my kids are 4 and almost 1.”

She nodded, relieved. “What’s your favorite time of the day?”

I smiled, thinking before I opened my mouth that I had a great answer. This is a bad habit of mine; thinking I’m wittier and smarter than I really am.

“I don’t know…I never really thought of it before.” But the question got me thinking. And later that day, after I managed to get them both down for a nap at the same time, I thought, could this be my favorite time of the day? When I use the break to catch up on writing, emails, bills, phone calls, laundry, dishes, cleaning, this, this, that and the other? Can’t be. That would make me a masochist.

Or would it?

Maybe it just makes me a mom, and a housewife. Yeah, yeah, I know the PC term is “Stay-At-Home-Mom”. Just like its “Executive Assistant” and not “Secretary”. I was in Human Resources for quite a few years; I get the whole propriety of names and their necessity to our ever-shifting world of mass acceptance. But after I hired my umpteenth Executive Assistant, I realized she was doing exactly what I used to do 15 years ago when it was “secretarial support”. That said, do I meet my husband at the door everyday with slippers and a martini, while I lead him to the dining room for a four-course meal? Sure. But in my (our) world, I meet him at the door with a half-crazed four year old who needs to go outside and play soccer, and the martini is for me. A four-course meal is not an issue, as long as the bread and beverages count as two of the courses.

I guess the mom’s question had me wondering why my favorite time of the day was so shameful. I mean, if I were back in my career girl days of Manhattan and I answered that same question to a group of latte-laden supercareerwomen, I’d have to say something sharp and focused like, “Oh, well without a doubt it has to be in the morning, when my phone is silent and my office is empty. I’m so busy!” And we’d all burst into simultaneous laughter laced with a sly competitive once-over. But if I met those same superwomen with their alligator laptop cases and stiletto boots, how would I feel saying, “Oh, my favorite time of the day is when my two kids are napping at the same time and I can finish folding the laundry from two days ago! Oh, and if I’m really fast, then I can take a shower without anyone pounding on the door needing to go poopy!” And I’d burst into laughter. Alone. I’m also quite certain I would be met with loud crickets chirping and some very raised, yet artfully waxed, brows.

See, I’m not that supercareerwoman anymore. Before I met my son for the first time in the hospital, I was convinced I would still be climbing that corporate ladder and taking the business world by storm. I thought I would be the genius behind hiring the next great hedge-fund manager, or I'd recruit a portfolio manager that would catapult my firm’s profits off the charts. But as soon as I realized I’d have to leave my little 11 week old for the same amount of hours a day at a daycare, I bid farewell to my awesome laptop case, stiletto boots and Lancôme mascara. It was Baby Magic and All laundry detergent, and you know what? That’s ok with me.

So what’s in a name, anyway? I’m no longer a career girl, but a mom and a housewife/stay-at-home- everything. (And seriously, though I have it posted on a number of profile pages, what is with “Stay-At- Home-Mom”? What if you stay home but you’re not a mom? Then it’s just “Stay at Home”? What if you’re a mom but you don’t stay home all day? Then the ‘mom’ part of your designation goes out the window?)

The true name of the game is MOM. Wherever you are, you’re mom. And it’s often not pretty, often misunderstood, and often looked down upon by (sadly) other women. But to them and all insecurities alike, take a hike. Doesn’t matter what we’re called or how we think of ourselves, as long as it’s true and accurate. And in my book, that name is FABULOUS.


We Aren't Perfect...We're Moms.

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