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December 17, 2010

The good (enough) mother

http://www.jewishjournal.com/blog/item/the_good_enough_mother_20101217/

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time writing about what a great mama I am… while I conveniently ignore my two children.

While M pulls on my leg and says “Boob Mama? Boob Mama?” and Little Homie beats the shit out of his toy xylephone, and the dishes stay piled high in the sink like a Jenga block tower, Mama of the Year types and types and types, occasionally getting up just long enough to put on M’s favorite movie, Princess and the Frog. 

“See Girl Ribbit Princess Frog Mama! Princess Frog!  GIRL RIBBIT!  RIBBEEEEEEEEEEEEEET!”

“Mama will be right there. Just let me finish this fucking sentence!”

“BOOB.”

Well, so much for that Regents scholarship at UC Berkeley.

But writing makes me happy. 

Right after M was born, someone told me that what’s best for the mama is what’s best for the baby.  Alas, at the time I was too wrapped up in the dangerous idea that dark under eye circles,  scraggly hair, and spit and shit stained sweats made me a Good Mother. I thought that women who waltzed off for a night out with a friend—or God Forbid—their husbands were selfish bitches. 
 
Really.
 
And in between obsessing about germs and aspiration pneumonia, between counting M’s poops with religious fervor, between pouring boiling water on one of the organic wooden toys made by magical elves in Scandinavia, I realized this: 

- Would I die for my child?  You bet.
- Would I kill for her?  Touch her before washing your hands, and I will cut a bitch.

But, I hated being a mother.


Things changed when I found out about Little Homie chillin in the uterus.  I realized that it was do or die time:  I couldn’t live the way I had been living any longer and bring another baby into the world, so I took a (very) deep breath and started writing. And wearing a push-up bra.

Maybe it was also a hormonal thing:  Maybe growing a teeny tiny penis in my uterus gave me the balls to take myself less seriously.

Regardless, I started to enjoy my kid.  And the idea of having another kid.

And maybe someday, another.

And this is what I’ve learned: Whether you waltz off to work at an office or stay at home in your jammies, if you do what makes you happy your kids will pick up on that.

And they will be happy.

Before we moved halfway across the world, Blue Cross sent me a pamphlet on postpartum depression - complete with a multiple choice test - as a screening tool.

(Don’t they understand that if you’re truly depressed then the mail just piles up by the door unopened, while collection agencies call you several times a day? Not that I would know or anything…)

Anyway, I guess the good news is I took the damn test. And the even better news is, according to the fine minds a Blue Cross

—the ones who don’t realize that women with PPD are too busy trying not to kill themselves to take their stupid little tests!—

I’m fine.

Let me break it down:

—Do I get enjoyment out of the little things? Thanks to my morning double-shot latte and occasional night out off the Kibbutz, yes.

—Do I see the humor in life? Um, when my daughter points to Little Homie’s balls and says “APPLE YUM!” I snort with laughter, so I guess, YES.

—Do I sleep too much? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ahahahahahahaha. Fuckers. I wish I slept too much.

But in all seriousness, according to the Blue Cross screening tool, I’m ok. But I kind of already knew that, because according to my own litmus test—the fact that I actually (almost always) enjoy being a mama—I’m fine. 


Or as fine as I can be given my neurotic tendencies. 

And so, I guess I’ll continue to do what I do best:  I’ll drink my lattes in the morning.  I’ll sip my wine at night.  And in between, I will—from time to time—happily ignore my babies.  Because this is what makes me a Good (enough) Mother.

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