We live in the Age of Mommy Martyrdom. Women take to social media to lament dinnertime, carpool, bedtime, and breastfeeding. We are all suffering daily for the good of our children, and, dammit, we want the world to know of our sacrifice. It’s as if we are keeping score and points are awarded for how much suffering Mommy endures. Bonus points if you suffer with a smile on your face. I’ll admit it, I play the game. But I’ll give you a little inside scoop – sometimes this mama is full of shit.
I’ve readily admitted my propensity toward lying to my children, but, as mothers, sometimes our desire to martyr ourselves makes us liars to one another. Because sometimes motherhood isn’t so bad. Sometimes it’s pretty damn awesome, but, for purposes of keeping up appearances, this Mama likes to feign suffering in the following areas.
- Listening to Teeny Bopper Music
I love and appreciate good music. In high school I was listening to the White Album on repeat while my fifteen-year-old counterparts were blasting Puff Daddy. I sing my children a Bob Dylan song every night before bed, and I find that playing Mozart in the car helps me relax and unwind after particularly stressful days. You will rue the day that you try to convince me that there is an album more musically perfect than the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, but I would be a filthy liar if I told you that I don’t love me some cheesy pop tunes. Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Demi Lovato – nothing makes a pre-bedtime dance party pop like pop music. And don’t even get me started on boy bands. You play me a canned pop beat with a 19-year-old English kid singing about how beautiful he thinks I am (because those One Direction boys are clearly singing about me), and I am instantly transformed into a gleeful 13-year-old girl.
So when my daughters go through the inevitable boy band stage in five years or so, I will throw myself on my sword and begrudgingly offer to bring them, along with a gang of girlfriends, to whatever the equivalent of 5SOS is in half a decade. I’ll pull up to their friends’ driveways playing some JD McPherson, maybe some Depeche Mode, just to demonstrate to the other parents what a sacrifice I’m making. I’ll assure them that I’ll survive somehow; maybe I’ll even show off a pair of earplugs and a book for effect. And then I will bribe all the girls with concert swag to not tell their moms that I screamed the loudest when the band came out for their encore.
2. Making Dinner
I hate coming up with new ways to feed my family. Together, there are roughly three foods that my two children will eat without complaint, and that is if you count ketchup. Most nights, I would rather change a blow out diaper while blindfolded than figure out how to put together a meal with the contents of my refrigerator and kitchen cabinets. So, yes, dinnertime is my ultimate, legitimate mommy martyrdom. I can’t count the times I’ve sat around with my girlfriends, wine in hand, bemoaning slaving away in the kitchen for hours, preparing an organic, free-range, protein-packed meal, only to have my children whine that they wanted boxed mac and cheese. Make no mistake, dinnertime is the bane of my existence – the meal planning and meal eating. What I don’t tell people is that dinner preparation and all its ample alone time is this mama’s secret guilty pleasure.
The kitchen is a veritable danger zone. Filled with a hot oven, boiling pots, and sharp knives, I have convinced my children that entering the kitchen during meal preparation is tantamount to entering the mouth of an active volcano, only less fun. So I wash and chop and stir, yes. But I also sit my ass on a kitchen stool, sipping sauvignon blanc and checking Facebook. When one of my children tries to enter Mama’s sanctuary, a quick shout about the hot stove sends them running in the other direction. Some nights I can get away with this for 10 minutes, some nights it’s a solid 40 (especially if Dog With a Blog is on – but more on that later). Dinner preparation is a time for me to recharge and prepare for the ultimate death match that is to come next – trying to make my children actually eat a meal. And when Mama has had her wine-soaked time out, she really doesn’t care that no one else likes kale.
3. Watching Children’s Programming
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of children’s programs that are clearly created and written by sadists. There could be college courses devoted to studying the effects of Caillou on a parent’s mental and emotional health. But, much like my love of teeny bopper music, I have never gotten over the joy original Disney programming gave me as a child. On occasional, glorious Sunday nights throughout my childhood, NBC’s Magical World of Disney premiered original Disney programming such as Return of the Shaggy Dog and The Parent Trap III. These movies transported me to a fantasy world where everyone was beautiful, lived on neat, tree-lined streets, and, after a few setbacks and misunderstandings, ultimately got what they wanted. These movies filled me with hope and promise and I dreamed of my future that involved cruising California in a convertible while my madcap children tried to get me and my husband back together after a charming marital setback.
Similar, modern shows starring well-dressed tweens and teens running their households infuriate many parents I know. They lament the melodrama, the blubbering or absent parents, and, most importantly, the ease with which life’s challenges are tidied up. I, on the other hand, celebrate these shows for those very same qualities. Entertainment is not real life. The sooner my children learn that lesson, the better. Television shows are entertainment and escapism. I do not depend on them to raise my children, nor do I expect nor want them to be responsible for teaching my children values. Putting on Jessie or K.C. Undercover gives me the opportunity to just relax and snuggle up with my girls. When they watch, I imagine them planning out their futures in New York City or as a badass undercover agent. Maybe it’s nostalgia, but when I watch these shows with my girls, I’m not a mom biding my time until bedtime when I control the remote (which, incidentally, I still can’t find), but a mom reveling in the wonderment of my children. Besides, the parents in these shows really are almost always bumbling idiots and make me feel like, even though their hair always looks better than mine, maybe I’m doing okay at this mom gig.
4. Helping My Kindergartner Do Homework
Bahahaha. Just kidding. That shit is actual torture.
So, there they are. My dirty little secrets are out. When it comes to wine and tween entertainment, consider me Joan of Arc.