By: Melissa Kirkner
Every mother on the planet, even those in third world countries, could tell you that motherhood changes you in a way that makes you something like a consistently late, half dressed, sleep deprived, crazy person. The ones who look like they have it all together are either faking it or are accidentally having a really good day that you just happen to get to witness. It’s nice when things occasionally work out to be easy for us. It’s even nicer when we manage to create that ease ourselves. In my never-ending quest to get through every day without a trip to the ER and with my sanity intact, I have noticed that there are a (large) number of things I just don’t have time for anymore because these things make my day unwittingly hard.
Bad coffee. I don’t have time for watered down cheap coffee or overly burnt expensive coffee. If it’s watered down and translucent from the coffee-bar-pump-thing at the gas station, I have to go somewhere else. If it’s made poorly by the hipster at the expensive chain coffeehouse, I have to insist they make a new one. Either way, this is a huge time waster. Coffee should not be this hard, and wasting time by making it again or searching for it like I’m on a caffeine safari is likely to cause me to yell at people – probably my short people, and definitely the person screwing up the coffee. It’s just a bad start to the day. I have to get to work or the grocery store or the hardware store or fifty-seven other places, and there is a five-year-old wrapped around my leg. I prefer to make the coffee myself, at home, where the public is safe from my coffeeless dragon-lady ranting.
Broken credit card swipers. Specifically at the gas station. I cannot – CANNOT – take these children into the gas station. Ever. Filling the mommy mobile should take five minutes and only cost me the small amount of sanity that leaves my brain when I have to open the back door and remind my ten-year-old that his hands do not, in fact, belong on his little brother’s face. Instead, a broken card reader means we all have to go inside to pay for gas. Everyone suddenly has to pee, and then they all need a drink and two snacks even though we are three miles from home. Someone will inevitably find the very last half-tube of cheddar Pringles, and one of my other kids will decide he also can’t live without cheddar Pringles. They will fight loudly in the middle of the aisle in the damn gas station. Telling them no results in a three-way public meltdown. Negotiating with them nets me stares and judgment. Giving in costs me a fortune. Finally, thirty minutes and $94 later, I’m standing at the pump filling my gas tank. So, please excuse me if I seem to be hopping from pump to pump. We will all be better off as soon as I find a working credit card reader.
Food shaming. I said Pringles, and I know people cringed. I don’t care. I don’t have time to care. I have three boys, and one of them is almost a teenager. He lives on crap pretending to be food. Even if all I buy are bananas and avocadoes, he will find a way to eat only cookies for lunch. My youngest is five. He also lives on crap pretending to be food, but his vices are nuggets and pizza. My middle child is actually my best eater. He will choose salad over fries every single time. Eating out with this boy feels like a parenting victory for me in the midst of the never-ending chicken nugget war. All three of my kids have food restrictions. Three kids, three different sets of dietary needs. It isn’t hard to feed my family at home, but getting food anywhere else is a challenge. I spend an average of fifteen minutes asking for ingredients and reading labels before we can even order (or check out at the gas station). I don’t have the luxury of worrying about whether or not an onlooker approves of our Pringles or corn dogs or fries. I promise I’ll bake a whole free-range chicken for dinner and serve it with organic vegetables. And I have a kid who eats salad, so there’s that.
Owned parents. We all know them – the mom in the store who accommodates every order her demanding four-year-old beauty queen barks, the friend who can’t take calls or vacuum or leave the house between 9 and 10:30 or 12 and 2 or 4 and 5:30 because “that’s when the baby naps,” the parent on the soccer sideline ordering the latest equipment fad from Amazon in the hopes it can arrive in the next ten minutes right there at the field so her kid will have the latest and greatest. (Maybe I sound like I’m judging. I’m contradicting myself since I don’t want to be food shamed, but motherhood makes us crazy people.) I’m of the school of thought that parents who aren’t in charge and parents who give in to whims and fads are creating the very same group of entitled imps that they complain about. I’m a frequent user of phrases like “shake it off” and “who promised you fair?” I’m also a firm believer accomplishing my day and including my kids in that day rather than abandoning myself wholesale because it’s naptime. Mama has things to do, kiddo. Nap in the car. You’ll thank me later.
People who don’t get it. At this stage in my life, most of my friends and both of my siblings have children. I do, however, have a good many friends who don’t have kids for any number of reasons. My friends who have elected not to have children or who want kids but don’t have them yet are usually great about understanding that the boys and I are a package deal almost all the time. But there are some who can’t understand why I can’t drop everything and run to Vegas for a long weekend. I’m also super perturbed by the “come hang out” text that is immediately followed by the “without the kids” text. Coming to hang out without the kids requires a considerable flow of logistics that includes either procuring and paying a babysitter or inconveniencing a friend who probably also deserves to “come hang out without the kids.” I also grow amazing tired of trying to be a good friend to people who only want to come to my house when the kids aren’t around. When would that be, exactly? I would like very much to also be at my house when the kids aren’t there.
Melissa Kirkner is a friend to Bugs, Dirt and Mommy and the proprietor of East of Haleiwa where she writes about being a mom with a surfboard. Most importantly though, she is mom to Ethan, Matthew, and Luke.