Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Secret Lives of Mothers

You have no idea what is seething underneath the surface of your average PTA mom. Now I know this might seem unbelievable, but trust are sitting next to women with REAL secrets and I am not talking about lapsing at Weight Watchers or lingering too long over the Sexist Men Alive issue of People Magazine. I am talking jaw dropping secrets.

“Oh, of course, they know I was a dominatrix .” she said to her very downtown looking friends. The thin, very well-preserved, 40-something, black clad crowd looked over at us as we sat in a to-die-for townhouse in Chelsea...drinking...of course.

My husband with amused interest glanced over at me...I shrugged my shoulders—who would have known? It is not like she is the best disciplinarian with her kids. I thought she was taking poetic license since she is writer, but apparently she really was in the East Village Punk mix of the 80s and being a dominatrix was her shtick.

I first met her sitting on a beach in Fire Island. We ended up building sand castles with our kids and sharing many bottles of wine. Having kids, and drinking, dulls the senses so I could not put together all the stories she was telling me...they were mixed in with her tales of divorce and her move out of New York state completely etc.

Three years later and a few more vacations together—I never really made the connection between her short stories and her real life....well until that evening in the Chelsea for the book party for Legs McNeil.

I was not particularly shocked, just jealous.

I have met A LOT of moms who seem just like...well...moms...and then over coffee or while watching kids in the gymnastics studio, secrets spontaneously come “I remember when I was a pole dancer...” or “I would definitely be a lesbian if women were not so sensitive.” or “once I was going with a 60 year old man and an 19 year old boy—it was amazing.”

I think it is the sheer boredom of motherhood...there are stretches of time when you are forced to do nothing but watch small children run around and to make the time go more quickly we tell stories.

It is odd, I felt I said YES to about any experience presented to me in my younger years. That affirming habit lead me on adventures around the world, but nothing close to what these moms obviously embarked on pre-marriage.

After the dominatrix incident I went to my friend, Ms. Leather-Pants,--”Just tell me now about your wild pre-mom life.” I demanded. Because really...if any of my friends seemed to be likely candidates for deviant sexual behavior it would be Ms. Leather-Pants and Mr. Ball Gag, but she just looked at me and said:
“You know, we got married SO young...that ruled out a lot of out of the ordinary conduct”

So it just goes to show—you NEVER know.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sex and Marriage

Did you have sex before you married daddy?

It is odd how you never anticipate questions like these—they just come out of the blue. We were watching the PBS News Hour...not even one of those none rated foreign films --“How should I know there was a 15 minute sex scene?”...that lingered artfully, yet explicitly over young French bodies entangled in passion? I say with my eyes to my glaring husband as we try, unsuccessfully, to distract the open mouthed, totally engage Beast from the on-screen copulation. Did that DVD provoke any questions—NO...not a one. I guess it just goes to show that PBS is truly thought provoking—it was a story on the News Hour about why teaching abstinence before marriage to teens does not work. Surprise, surprise....

I, of course, ignored the Beast’s question and looked at the TV attempting to bide time to think of a true, but sanitized answer. The only thing that came to mind was--Hello...I married your father when I was better believe I had sex before that. “Well?” she said...

I started...”Your father and I married rather late in life and we had many adventures before we found one another yes. I did have boyfriends and sex before I married daddy....after I got my degree...and I always used condoms for protection...” ( was not completely true.)

The Beast then turned to the smirking Husband. “How about you daddy? “
The Husband’s face changed to serious and he looked The Beast in the eye and said: “No. Mommy was the first person I ever had sex with.”

Pleassssee...If there was a god listening a lightening bolt would have struck the house.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Mommy Classifications

There are so many different kinds of are just a few of the many break-downs.

Lazy Mom (desidiosus mater matris)—they generally work, because honestly why let your career completely slip for five years just to stay at home to be a servant to a little demanding tyrant. They normally have a helpful husband. They do not volunteer for organized events, but are willing and able to take on an extra kid for a playdate or sleep-over if it is for a good cause—such as helping a friend have a fun time in the city for an evening. Lazy Moms tend to have one child. One perfect child.

Moms (mater matris)—they have more than one child. They are thoughtful and nice and generally helpful. Sometimes their husbands help with the fun-dad stuff, but the dads are not the ones directing baths or making lunches and dinners...the moms basically do it all on the home front and work.

Ubermoms (supernus mater matris) —they usually work in the home or they have a part-time job, but they some how manage to dedicate 60 hours a week to volunteering at the school. They are amazed that other mothers do not want to spend a mere 30 hours a week printing newsletters or planning assemblies. Avoid Ubermoms like the plague. They try to suck you into volunteering, carpooling, signature gathering for events and causes that are better left untended.

Supermoms (prodigiosus mater matris)-—the woman works...often an entrepreneur...her children are involved in all the correct afterschool activities...a sport for each season, something cultural such as Shakespeare plays, takes the children on educational outings and, of course, is involved in an approved religious sect. Just a note to the Lazy Moms--the pagan drinking of wine and appreciating nature is NOT an approved religion.

Cling to the supermoms like a lifeboat on the Titanic. They are organized, have focus and purpose and if they feel your Lazy Mom lifestyle may benefit their child (thank god we are artsy and can occasionally throw a good party) you are golden. They know everything and everyone. They will remind you of all key school events...suggest an activity for those tricky half days... I love the supermoms because my child can often tag along and have all the benefits of the Supermom (trips to the Amish Country, Science Museum etc.) minus the pressure of having to be a Superkid.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Suspicious SINGLE

When you have just one child for some reason you come under A LOT of suspicion. As though you are not doing your part, you are lazy and you are deforming your child in a way akin to female circumcision by keeping the child a SINGLE. One is almost tempted to come up with some birth horror story as to why you could only have one child. “Oh...we always wanted a large tumbling out of the closets and attic and trees....but during the birth some thing unspeakable happened...”

As is often the case—telling the truth is not good enough for most people. “Well my husband and I really enjoy staying in bed most of the morning on the weekends and indulging our interests in the arts, food, wine and frankly—having just one child almost put us over the edge with the sleep deprivation alone. There is no way we are “planning” another...besides I have the one girl I always wanted. “ This explanation is often greeted with...

“but you aren’t worried about her...all alone?” they say as though the Beast lives in solitary confinement and we have no interaction with her.

My friend, who also has a SINGLE and is in PR, came up with a few responses for such occasions when you are being queried by mothers of large families at soccer game practices or teachers during conferences—she says—”Yes, that is correct--I don’t have SPARE child....just one.” She also coined the term “The One Perfect Daughter Club” because there are A LOT of SINGLE kids and surprise, surprise—they seem perfectly happy, well adjusted and smart. And not at all— lonely, spoiled or bratty.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Not A Slave to Fashion

"She dresses kooky.”
The husband often makes announcements like the one above and this : “The house is a wreck.” and I generally ignore them, because unless there is a directive I feel he is just expressing an opinion. But when he said— “She dresses kooky and YOU should do something about it. YOU are her MOTHER” those are fighting words.

It is here that I want to mention that marriage did not come easily to me. I lived happily alone for many years in the city before I was wooed away by promises of a sex filled bucolic life. The first few years involved many flying coffee cups, packed bags, threats of changing locks etc....but years later I have become more Zen in my approach to living with someone else...someone, who I believe, is even MORE annoying than I am...

As soon as the words are out of his mouth I sit quietly stroking my coffee frighten him and then think-I buy the child normal clothes....I cannot help that she is not a slave to fashion. She is creative. If she chooses to wear her hot pink fleece with her acid green windbreaker, a wildly colored skirt and turquoise Merrill's —what am I to do? By the time she is at the school bus stop I am already tucked in my NYC cubicle writing mind numbing memos to other administrators.

Yet years of marriage have served me well. I say--”Of course.”

The following morning as I write my breakfast note to The Beast which always goes something like this—”Please remember to work hard and have fun at school. Don’t forget your homework. I LOVE YOU! “ I follow this morning with a post script. “P.S. Please don’t dress kooky.”

My part as a mother is done.

And here can see the results.

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Mommy Competition

“I am so glad I took the day off...I signed Joey up at Tumble Bee, organized all my closets, ironed on name tags for all his clothes for next year and made dinner for the next ten nights. “

“Oh—my Caitlyn and I went to kiddy yoga, picked-up her violin for the new Suzuki method training, and put her on the wait list at Harvard.”

The women politely turned to me. I was sitting in a waiting room for one of those endless “Well Baby” visits while The Beast sat on my lap happily drooling and chewing on her baby board book. “Oh...well I also took the day off...the monster actually took a nap so I made myself an iced coffee and sat outside and read a WHOLE magazine article! the New Yorker!” It was one of the best days I have had in a long time.

For some reason they did not share my joy. One of the woman actually said—”I don’t even know you, but I hate you. “

It is my fault I know what my priorities are?

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a competitive mommy situation? I hardly notice it now, but it is a constant here in the wilds of the upper middle class suburbs...who is the better mommy, the most saintly, the most giving, the most organized, the one who can position her child in the best social/academic/sports circles...

I find it all very tiring and I assume it will only get more intense as the kids head off to college.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Leather Pants and Ball Gags

“Do you feel it is okay to wear leather pants to a parent –teacher conference?” queried a friend one day when the kids first started kindergarten.

Taking a sip of her amazingly strong coffee and thinking I have FINALLY found someone else who triples the recommended amount of coffee... “why not--if you can pull leather pants off fashion-wise AND I think you can because you are tall and thin enough....bitch ”

“How about my ball-gag” asked her husband.

“Oh...I see now...Please don’t drag me into your little mommy-daddy dispute....for heavens sake... your child goes to the school with the arts-fartsy crowd" I said, "I am SURE they see mommies suited up in leather ALL THE TIME. The ball-gag, however, I would wait on. You might want to build more trust into the relationship with the school first. Try it out at a PTA meeting..OR...maybe a bake sale...

Hey during one of my back to school night I actually saw a mother with a ‘Got Beer?’ T-shirt on...and I wasn’t even looking in the mirror. If fact, this woman, who was also sporting a mullett haircut, did not even look like she was TRYING to push the envelope.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Whispering Threats--Lazy Mom Tip #1012

“You daughter is SO GOOD and I never hear you yell at her. How do you do it?” Asked a very tired looking mother at one of those hellish party pick-ups. You know the type--where you have to pull your child from a churning vat of brats hyped up sugar and cola.

“ is pretty simple...” I said while the other mother continued to call gently to her daughter to find her shoes and socks, but the child was bouncing from the couch to the ceiling ignoring the poor woman’s pleas.

“It is a technique I learned from my mother--I just grab her little arm and whisper threats in her ear. At this age they are SO small and SO easy to frighten.”

Horror spread over the woman’s face. “Do you think that is good for a child?”

“It is hard to really never know until they are out of the house and away at you? But for now—it works like a charm.” I said and then called to my daughter—”Come along Beautiful Beast”...and off we skipped, my poor emotionally damaged child and I...leaving behind the the Dante-esque party scene, the tired, loving mother and the bouncing brat.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Scientific Method and the Average Kindergartener

During my first ever Parent-Teacher conference my eye went down a very long list of categories on my daughter’s kindergarten dossier--most checked in the far right corner....and then I noticed one area of deficit...because REALLY who cares about what the child is doing well in...looking more closely with my mother eagle eye and following my finger across to the category title I found... “Scientific Method.”

I asked the teacher--”Scientific Method?!! The child is five. I would be hard pressed to define ‘Scientific Method.’ How about you?”

The teacher smiled a syrupy, knowing smile and told me not to worry...kindergarten parents are always SO nervous...she will “catch-up. She’s a SINGLE--right?”

I smiled back my best— ‘please-watch-it-I-can-be-a-total-bitch-if-need-be’ smile and said—”I am not worried about The Child...I am worried about the school. I feel at this age the main goal should be playing nicely with others followed by learning colors, shapes and maybe finger painting. So..back to Scientific Method—what is YOUR definition?”

“Oh...oh...”stumbled the suddenly non-condescending teacher..”you know photosynthesis... that sort of thing.”

“Hmmm...seems a little vague...but don’t worry—I am sure you will catch-up.”

Friday, January 2, 2009

Mommy's Favorite Food

Pregnancy starts the process of public humiliation for mothers...people gawking at you, perfect strangers wanting to rub your body, telling you their opinion of how you should raise the fetus and the whole birth process...oh my god. I don’t care what people say—it is NOT beautiful.

But it took me a few years of being a mother before it really dawned on me that the embarrassment will never stop and you just have to go with the flow.
I think my first inkling of this new reality was when I went to fetch The Beast at the little German preschool many years ago. I was greeted by two beautiful German “assistant teachers” that the head mistress of the school imported each year to ensure full father participation in school activities. The annoyingly perky girls said the children were making books about their families and each child answered questions and the German girls wrote down the responses to go with the child’s pictures...But they were having a hard time, so to speak, with what my daughter described as my “favorite food.” “

They said with their slight, sexy German accents, ”Guess...guess vat she said YOUR favorite food vas?”

I said, “I cannot imagine since I have only been drinking coffee and beer since the day we brought the little monster home from the far as I can remember...”

They smiled again with their perfect white teeth and eager Teutonic faces and asked The Beast to come over--”tell us again vat your mommy’s favorite food is.”

“PENIS!” The Beast announced triumphantly...of course...this was just the beginning of many, many explanations to come...

I told the hysterical girls...that although penis is always a treat, the child is actually trying to say GUINNESS. Guinness....which is, indeed, Mommy’s favorite drink/food.

Such a smart little girl, but pronunciation is not her strong suit.