The Mothers

Ok…I’ve been sitting here for over an hour trying to compose this lovely, touching post about the various kinds of parenting, and how each style affects how we, as a society, are raising our children. I’ve been trying to be insightful, sensitive, nonjudgmental, and open-minded.
Fuck that.
I’m exhausted. I’m exhausted from trying to be tolerant. I’m exhausted from trying to be deep and philosophical. I’m totally exhausted from trying not to swear. But most of all, I’m exhausted because my kids won’t leave me the fuck alone.

My kids have been on summer break now for one month. As per previous years, this is about the time that I start going crazy.
The first month is ok. It’s nice to be off the routine: no lunches to pack, no homework to help with, no spelling words to learn, no phone calls from school telling me my son was caught surfing porn sites.

The kids are happy to be lounging around, watching tv, playing video games, inviting friends over.
But after about four weeks of this, everybody starts to get a little bored. Now the kids are looking for me to entertain them.
The problem is though, I don’t like entertaining them.

My mother once said, “I sure am glad I had my kids when I did. You “modern” mothers have your hands full.”
Never were truer words spoken.

When I was a kid, there was no such thing as your parent playing with you. My mother never read to me, coloured with me, made crafts with me, biked with me, watched cartoons with me, or talked to me. We did, however, bond every afternoon over “General Hospital.” Good enough.
This was a time when mothers were free to clean their houses, make the meals, and sit on the couch watching an hour or two of television without the incessant voice in the back of their minds telling them they really should check to make sure the kids weren’t swimming face down in the pool.

I try to be this kind of parent. I try really really hard. But it’s very difficult to accomplish this when the world is now filled with mothers who feel compelled to play with their kids. First of all, why do you have to play with them? Is that not why most of us have more than one child? So they can play together?

I have one friend who not only buys all the latest gadgets for her kids, but she’s out there playing with them. Is it not enough that they have a trampoline? You have to go out there and jump on it with them? They have a football. Why do you have to throw it? You’ve brought them to the waterpark. Why do you have to go down the slides with them? I’m not doing that. I don’t want to get my hair wet. Have you any idea what I look like without the benefit of a blow drier and a straightening iron?

I have another friend who is all about the memories. Memories. Memories. And more fucken memories. Easter egg decorating parties. Slumber parties. Extravagant playdates where she’ll actually drive the kids to the next town so they can walk on the boardwalk, buy souvenirs in the shops, eat the best soft ice cream in the world. You’ve already invited two extra kids over? Why do you have to now entertain the whole lot of them? Can’t they be left to run around in circles and make their own memories?

And at what point do we say: Now they have TOO MANY memories. How do they know what is a memory and what is a normal every day activity? How can they tell that having a slumber party is more special and therefore more worthy of the “memory” category than, let’s say, poop scooping. Ok. Obviously, there is a difference. But what if the parent is out there poop scooping with the kids, and makes a game out of it: who can find the most piles? The winner gets a trip to the next town for a walk on the boardwalk and soft ice cream! See what I mean? How easily the lines become blurred!

Now, if I’m going to be honest, as much as it pains me, the issue is not really society’s. The issue is mine. Clearly, I don’t have to do anything that I don’t want to. But…BUT how long can I hold out when my kids come home from the extravagant playdates and the all-night slumber parties where the mother was right in there serving snow cones and grilled cheeses at 3am, and say, “How come you never do anything like that with us?”

How come? Because I’m a mean mean mother. Because I like my sleep. Because I don’t like Monopoly and therefore don’t feel the need to teach you how to play it. Because I like quiet and don’t feel the need to lecture you about the environment, good and evil, and the significance of the first African-American president.
And now, because of these other mothers, my kids will also grow up with memories. Memories of a mother who sat around on her deck chair all summer, devouring Stephanie Meyer novels and fastforwarding through the DVDs to all of the Edward scenes, instead of playing hide-and-go-seek and tag with them.

So “modern” mothers. Thanks. Thanks for nothing.
~this is me sticking my tongue out at you~

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19 Responses to The Mothers
  1. Pamela
    August 1, 2010 | 4:48 pm

    Haha! Too funny, Sandra! But I know exactly how you feel. I only have one kid and the thought of "playing" with him wears me out. Mostly because his idea of playing is doing grown-up stuff like laundry and vacuuming – which wouldn't be a bad thing if he didn't do such a half-ass job of it!
    Love your point about how our mothers never played let alone talked to us – so true! My mother wouldn't even let me watch General Hospital, though. I had to sneak over to my Grandma's to watch All My Children & Another World:)

  2. Trevor Macaroni
    August 1, 2010 | 9:27 pm

    okay… what i don't get is that i have no kids, no wife, and feel no guilt about not doing more with the wife and kids i don't have, but even with my relatively carefree life of comparable leisure, i can't imagine where the fuck i would find the time to compose these little gems at a pace of more than two or three per year. ironic, no? you're a good writer though, with a equally good sense of humour, so knock yourself out!! :)

  3. Cori
    August 1, 2010 | 10:12 pm

    Haha! How true is your post! I'm not a mom, just a nanny and can't WAIT for school to start in just 4 short weeks! Ready to be back to the mundane normal days!!

  4. Sara @ Domestically Challenged
    August 1, 2010 | 11:52 pm

    You said it! we try too hard sometimes, don't we? It is the little things that they remember anyway. I am at the same point about school starting, but when it does? So do I. Sigh.

  5. The Empress
    August 2, 2010 | 7:17 am

    ooops… that's me. but only b/c i'm an idiot. I really do like to play.

    it's not you, it's me.

    still love me?

  6. emilyc @ Sew Super Sweet
    August 2, 2010 | 9:58 am

    Thanks for dropping by Sew Super Sweet! And even more thanks for giving so many of my exact sentiments a voice! My mother worked 14 hour days while I was growing up and you know what it taught me? Work ethic. Yet I feel guilty when I don't drop what I am doing to play with my little one. We've got a lot of expectations these days, don't we?

  7. Lisa Page Rosenberg
    August 2, 2010 | 12:04 pm

    I propose a Team Edward All Mom Slumber Party – no kids – with ice cream and my favorite activity: actual slumbering.
    Who's in?

  8. Jersey Diva Mom
    August 2, 2010 | 12:21 pm

    thx for your comments yesterday on my blog- made my day!

    but enough about me: Edward Cullen. yum. Just got addicted to the Twilight series last month and am on bk 4– and get REALLY annoyed when interrupted. movies too.

    i have a few friends that are constantly entertaining their kids. We'll do some special things like an amusement park day here or there, but apart from that- go play with each other!

  9. Kristina P.
    August 2, 2010 | 2:40 pm

    I am a strong advocate of letting children play with knives, cyanide, and locking them up in dog cages. It's what makes me an excellent social worker.

    Thanks for your comment! You are hilarious.

  10. Mom of the Perpetually Grounded
    August 2, 2010 | 3:01 pm

    Yes! I completely understand the deck chair you're laying on.

  11. Reluctant Writer
    August 2, 2010 | 4:54 pm

    I should be looking fwd to when school starts but im not. The running around and dealing with teachers, hw and test. I can live without. I really like your blog and wanted to give you the Sunshine Award.

    http://rwriterjourney.blogspot.com/2010/06/my-first-award.html

  12. MommaKiss
    August 2, 2010 | 11:50 pm

    I don't like my kids either.

    That's your point, right? Sorry if I'm off base ;)

    Love them. Don't wanna play with them.

  13. MommaKiss
    August 2, 2010 | 11:55 pm

    new follower. I'm assuming I'm allowed to swear some? :p

  14. sexylegsandbody
    August 3, 2010 | 2:37 am

    Haha, four weeks? After a week I wanna start killing…. fortunately our holidays are never more than a month or so.

    And fortunately I love Monopoly… so yes we play, only thing I do hate is, my daughter normally has all the frickin luck in the world and mostly beats me to becoming a Donald Trump… and loves it/.

    Colin.

  15. nitebyrd
    August 3, 2010 | 11:19 am

    Sandra, you're my kind of mother! How freakin' refreshing! I look at mother's trying to reason with a toddler in full-blown tantrum mode and just shake my head.

    Girl, I'm so with you about those damn slumber parties, too!

    You're not a mean mother, you're a MOTHER (not half a word, either) you don't want to be your kids best friend or their total world. You want your kids to have imagination and be self-sufficient. You're a good mom!

  16. Sherri
    August 3, 2010 | 3:35 pm

    Hi
    I'm now following you. It's hard to keep them entertained, they need to learn to entertain themselves sometimes. All Moms look forward to the new school year. My mother used to tell me that she dreaded the summer cause me and my sister complained about being bored all the time. lol
    I looked forward to it when mine started. My neighbor and I had a tradition. On the first day of school, we would go shopping and out to eat lunch. we might not buy a thing, but we just always looked forward to that day.

  17. Poppy
    August 5, 2010 | 12:53 am

    "What are we going to do today?" is the question that pisses me off. I'm not Julie from the Love Boat. Self entertain children and clean up after yourselves.

  18. KLZ
    August 9, 2010 | 4:00 pm

    I think, on an almost daily basis, "shit, maybe I should have bought a toilet lock. Maybe I'm a bad mom because I didn't. All my friends bought one. I think it's stupid though. Oh Lord, I hope that doesn't come back to bite me in the ass."

    Then I think about Mad Men, and Sally Draper playing with a dry cleaning bag over her head. And she gets yelled at – for disturbing the dry cleaning.

    And I sort of wish I could pull that off.

    Also, the drinking while pregnant thing they had going in the 50s.

  19. Deborah
    August 22, 2010 | 8:38 am

    OMG I love this post.

    My kids are ancient (24 and 27), but even when THEY were little there were those annoying MOMS. Oh I get aggravated just thinking about it!

    I am all over your blog, but this post was calling to me to comment.

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