I’m in the running for mom of the year.
Trust me, it’s very competitive.
Some of these moms out there take this shit seriously. They might even hire coaches. I don’t know. They have pictures of their kids in a plastic button on their oversized Louis Vitton purse. Which costs a fraction of what I paid for my Lululemon hoodie. They name their kids names like Bella and Beau and Baron.
Scream it out the back door, 100 times. If you can stand the way it sounds, you should name your kid that. I could not shout Beau out the back of my door repeatedly without it coming out like BOBO which to me sounds like the name of a clown.
These moms are out for blood! All that pent up I used to have a career, a corner office with a door, a closet full of business attire and now all I’ve got are these yoga pants and this fleece vest that I’ve worn for ONE WEEK STRAIGHT. In other words, they are moms who approach their momhood with the same competitive business savvy that once fueled their careers. They are merciless. Fearless! Whatever it will take to get themselves, no wait – their kids, ahead.
And, I’ve met them. At the Arboretum on a sunny day. Rookie parenting mistake #343: going to the Arboretum on the first sunny and over 60 degree day in March. WHAT WAS I THINKING? Found myself joined by about 50 dozen other holed up in their house all winter moms with their kids and strollers. My Chicco was no match for some of the tanks I was encountering – double strollers designed to hold two kids, a dog, a weeks’ worth of groceries, one Starbucks and mom’s giant purse. Did they drive that thing here? Does it make a noise when it backs up?
It was there that I experienced my first incident of stroller rage. There is a narrow line in which you order and then wait for your coffee, pinned against the pastry display and one of those velvet ropes designed to keep you in place. Oh it kept me. Standing behind my stroller, I had nowhere else to go. This is called “waiting”. Alas, some people do not like to wait. Behind me, a woman pushing what had to be 20 feet of stroller is trying to get by. In a space that was about 6 inches wide.
Listen, I hear your cry but in case you can’t tell I have NOWHERE ELSE TO GO. You and your – for crying out loud, how many kids do you have strapped on to that thing !? – can wait so give them each a bite of cookie and then shut your own piehole. I am not moving.
I looked behind me and the front seat of the stroller is now at the edge of feet. I look at her. She looks at me with the look of MOVE OR ELSE I UNBUCKLE THE YOUNGEST ONE ON TO YOU in her eyes.
Two choices: move or she will plow over me leaving Max alone for the rest of his life, mom victim of stroller rage incident. FINE. I move. Where? And just as I move a few inches forward now blocking the hot water urn, another mom – with a stroller – says excuse me, can I get to the hot water.
It’s like being in open water when the person behind you keeps grabbing at your foot and just as you shake them off the guy next to you decides he wants to mount you from the side.
GET AWAY FROM ME!
These are not my people. I know I’m competitive but this is why I do sports. So I don’t become THAT mom who is psychocrazy about her kids, pushing them around at dangerous speeds in a stroller worth as much as one of my bikes.
Before I tell you why I’m possibly going to be crowned Mom of the Year – and there better be a damn crown involved in all of us or at least some diamonds (HINT) - I should tell you that this is – yet – another post that is not about triathlon. Someone should revoke my USAT card. You see, I could write about triathlon but it’s just training. Day in, day out, getting the work done. I swim, I bike, I run. Sometimes I do two sports in one day. I know, riveting training secret there. Sometimes I do none and go wine tasting. Though I’m convinced spending 45 minutes at a ridiculously low cadence and high power is easier than waking up the day after declaring Black Muscat, Malbec and Chambourcin all my favorite wines. That was a rough one. I could tell you stories about how I now pull Tugboat Tom in the pool. Yes, his dream came true - I am now fast enough to be the lane leader. Well, fast compared to Tom (who one day told me his 500 PR is 4:48 – about 100 pounds ago). I could tell you stories about how I rode my trainer for 3 hours with no music, no television. You call that crazy, I call that quiet. I could tell you how I thought I was having a killer run off the bike one day when some guy ran by me like I was standing still. I felt sorry for myself for about 30 seconds, then I ran faster. It’s just training, you know?
So, for better or for worse, this is about my skills as a mother. If I spent as much time teaching myself to be a better mother as I did working on my swim stroke I might not be in the running for mom of the year. How do you get elected? Let’s see…
You find your child with cord to your laptop in his mouth. My house is like safety town. On a really unsafe day.
You find yourself slightly disgusted by your child’s boogers. I know he came out of me but…this is someone else’s snot. Think about that.
You find yourself letting them crawl around your bathroom for 30 minutes with a poop-filled diaper because you need those 30 minutes to get ready. Yeah, he crawls around a lot with poop but when you know he’s doing it – it’s totally different.
Mom of the Year is not only skilled like that but crafty. You say, he’s on the floor with a pie pan, a loaf pan and a wooden spoon. I call that making music. You say, he’s crawling around on the floor naked. I call that freedom. You say, he's playing with the liquor bottles in the pantry. I say, those bottles aren't open. Yet. You say, he woke up from his nap and he’s been talking to himself for 20 minutes aren’t you going to get him? I call it alone time. It’s good for him. Good for everyone.
So maybe I’m a little more lax with my child because I’m with him ALL – DAY – LONG and if I freaked out about everything he did I would convince myself he needed a crash helmet and a mouth guard. Instead I let him put a lot of things in his mouth – except the laptop cord, that was just downright scary – and when he hits his head I scream BOOM! It’s a trick I learned from my brother. If you make a big fuss every time they hit their head, they will make a big fuss. Babies clunk their heads a lot. I say BOOM a lot. Boom is fun. Come here what did you do are you ok is emotionally neurotic.
I just remembered the other reason I should be mom of the year. Max and I were taking a walk when we stopped at a bench. We were on our second outing of the day because he was being fussy. More so than usual. My attitude is that when he’s fussy – get out of the house and share the love with other people. Let them experience my child in all of his fussy bliss. Really, though, sound dissipates a lot better outside than it does in my house. Leaving the house is for survival (mine).
I was looking at Max when I noticed something in his mouth. Two perfectly little ridged-white lines running across his lower gums.
My kid has teeth.
My kid has teeth?
WHEN DID HE GET TEETH? I think they weren’t there yesterday. Now they are….there? I’m his mom. I should KNOW these things. If teeth are arriving, SOMEONE should have told me. Did I choose the shipping option? Because this week is a BAD week for teeth. I’m tired and I’m sore. I’m in no mood for teeth!
Dammit - TEETH! Yet another thing to research on the internet: Google: How long do teeth take to grow? If only there was a list of every search phrase I have typed into Google. “Baby projectile vomiting at 2 am after breastfeeding.” That was a fun one. Back to the teeth: I heard somewhere that they get teeth for the better part of two years. Then they lose their teeth. Then they grow new teeth. Then they need braces on those new teeth. And by the time they leave for college you *might* get a reprieve from needing to worry about their damn teeth.
Until they get a cavity.
Aside from having no idea how to care for teeth (oh shut up that I have teeth – it’s not the same!), I felt an odd sense of helplessness. Like things are happening to him and I have no control over it. It made me realize that he is his own being and will one day do things that I have no control over. He will continue grow. He will form opinions. He will voice them to me. Teeth are just a small step in that direction. First teeth, then walking, then talking, then he’s asking for the keys, then…they grow up really fast, don’t they.
It makes me want to take advantage of every moment with him while he’s this age. Enter the mom guilt. Dammit! Like growing up Catholic wasn’t guilt-ridden enough. I feel like every moment is a moment I should maybe read him a book, play with him, sing to him, talk to him, teach him how to say bye bye – why won’t he say bye bye yet? – hold him, connect with him, look at him, talk to him – did I say that already – read to him. There is so much I should be doing to stimulate his growth, every moment we have together is a learning opportunity, right? RIGHT!?
Obviously, I feel like I don’t do enough. And just when you think you’re doing enough, you sit next to a woman at story time who tells you the child in her lap is the youngest. Of five. It’s like telling someone you ran a marathon and they’ve done an ultra. Totally different things.
She then told me Max’s nose was running because he was getting teeth. I didn’t believe her. Lesson learned: always believe the woman who has 5 kids.
You find yourself wondering – am I doing it right? I didn’t notice he had teeth. What else does he have that I don’t know about. Because if it’s not in the diaper, it doesn’t seem to get my attention. And speaking of the teeth – do I have to brush them? If that’s anything like trying to brush Boss’ teeth – count me out. Not even poultry-flavored toothpaste could save that task.
Yes, there is a tremendous pressure in being a parent of wondering if you’re doing it right. Because if you get it wrong – you could end up with…Charlie Sheen.
I just got the shivers.
I don’t know if I’m doing it right. I’m not sure anyone knows. Parenting is like any competitive sport. It’s more than winning or losing, doing the right thing or wrong thing. No one really knows the right way. There isn’t a formula. There’s many ways to arrive at success. You just go with your gut, keep trying things and eventually settle on doing what feels right. You can read books or take advice but just like training, there is no single source that has all the answers.
Am I winning? I don’t know. I’m sure if you asked the moms at the Arboretum who observed my child there without a hat (which by the way is how they catch a cold, along with keeping your house at 68 degrees), they’d tell you that I should have my mom card revoked (along with the USAT card, I promise, this week I’ll get back to talking about triathlon). But if you ask Max, he’d say I’m mom of the year. At least, that’s what I gather because he screams – excitement or fear, your call - every time I leave the room.
Which, according to my sources, might be the start of separation anxiety.
It’s just a phase, right?