Tag Archives: sanity

A Mother of a Year

I’ve heard it said that motherhood is more of a marathon than a sprint. I see what they mean: it goes on for a really long time, and it’s hard on your body. During the hardest stretches, you sometimes wonder why you ever signed up for it at all. If you’ve been mothering during a global pandemic, you might say that motherhood is a like a marathon where you have to sprint the whole way. If some of us want this Mother’s Day to be extra special, I’d say we’ve earned it.

If you have children under 30, this has been a marathon of togetherness. It’s like if you threw a dinner party and no one ever left. It was festive to cook all day and enjoy a full table, but then the next morning they’re still there and they want breakfast, and then lunch. And since they’re staying, you might as well throw in a little laundry for them. They infiltrate your office and your living room with constant Zoom calls and high volume speaker phone conversations. I’ve had that country song in my head for an entire year – “How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away?”

It hasn’t been just the doing that is wearing us out, it’s also the being. Being happy, being upbeat, being present, being fun. When I was growing up and crises were moving through my household like a January draft, I would look to my mother to find out if we were okay. My mother was a genius at being okay, so I took her okay-ness level as a sign that we had not become unmoored, that we were safe. I’ve taken on this role in my family, as if a perky attitude will bring back their missed graduations and normal social lives. Sorry you missed your freshman year in high school, but look! Banana bread!

If you are a mother with little kids, we should erect a statue in your honor in the middle of the town square. My niece has an 18-month-old baby, and as I recall, if you have an 18-month-old baby, you don’t have anything else. Though she also has a full time job and another baby on the way, so there’s that. She works over Zoom with the baby on her lap, and soon she won’t even have a lap for that baby to sit on. I honestly don’t know she does it. I see mothers of three-year-olds explaining to them that they need to keep their masks on because there’s a deadly germ out there. And, at the same time, that there’s nothing to worry about. Or mothers explaining to five-year-olds that the letters K and C make the same sound, but not always. Sometimes C sounds like S. Why? I don’t know. Let’s make banana bread!

Many mothers and grandmothers of children who are grown have been isolated over the past year. They have seen their families over Zoom or through closed windows or seated in lawn chairs on either end of the driveway. I think of these moms and how they must long for a few minutes of the full capacity mayhem of my household, how they’d love to have toddlers on their laps. It reminds me that the challenge of this time has also been the luxury – knowing exactly how my kids are faring, because they’re right here.

So this Mother’s Day I hope we all have a chance to feel grateful and also pat ourselves on the back. And if you’re lucky enough to see your mother, give her a pat too. If you’ve put on a little weight or if you feel a little unenthusiastic about self-improvement and all those goals you set a year ago, give yourself a break. We will look back on this time and wonder how we ever did it. It has been one mother of a year.

An Open Letter to My Cleaning Lady

I don’t want to bother you while you’re quarantining with your family. But just real quick: why is everything so sticky? I remember the last time we said goodbye. It was like any other Tuesday. Your skin had that nice sheen of perspiration about it, and in my memory, you are the most beautiful person… Continue Reading

The Cleanse

There’s nothing more annoying than a person on a cleanse. Or even just a person who wants to talk about their diet: what they’re eating, what they’re not eating, what they have eaten but are not likely to eat again. A recent conversation with a man who was in the middle of a month of… Continue Reading

If You’ve Got Five Kids, You’ve Got A Lot of Teeth

“That’s just so many teeth,” I said to the confused mother of five seated across from me at lunch. It was a weird follow up to the pretty standard suburban question: “how many kids do you have?” Depending on your point of view, there are plenty of more appropriate reactions, including “how wonderful” and “so… Continue Reading

The Untold History of Thanksgiving

It’s important to remember the genesis of Thanksgiving, lest we all just start to see it as a stomach-stretching warm up for the actual holidays. The first Thanksgiving was a shared meal between the pilgrims and the Native Americans, one where they gave thanks for all they had and set the tone for who we… Continue Reading

Other People’s Problems

Sometimes, when I’m busy not writing my novel, I daydream about finishing my students’ novels. My mind floods with ideas to fill in their story gaps. I dream up surprise endings and pages of snappy dialog. While driving the other day, I decided that one of my student’s characters should have a heavy suitcase at the… Continue Reading

Sports Niceties in Real Life

Spring sports are winding down and the whole thing seems like a blur of driving, costume changes and sandwiches eaten in the car. There was the requisite amount of elbow jabbing, name calling and blood letting. But there were also the niceties of sports, the repeated rituals, words and actions that sort of smooth out… Continue Reading

Is Anyone Else Tired?

Remember when that new, zealous guy started work at your office? The one who thought it would be more productive to come in a few minutes earlier and stay a few minutes later? Next thing you knew, your nine-to-five job was eight-to-six, for the same pay. I wonder if this is what’s happened to motherhood.… Continue Reading

Notes for Next Christmas

I have a friend who has a very thoughtful way of living her life, and I try to pick up her habits when I can. She recently told me that every year after Christmas she takes a few minutes to jot down what worked and what didn’t, so that she doesn’t make the same mistakes… Continue Reading

Wake Me Up When The Election’s Over

We’re almost there, people. The election is just over the hump of the weekend, and the end is actually in sight. I tend to like a salacious and horrifying story, the inner-workings of human drama. But there’s no thrill in this election. It just feels prickly and uncomfortable, like the angora sweater my grandmother bought… Continue Reading

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