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Suburban Island

A Little Short of Sainthood
Wednesday, May. 25, 2005, 12:29 p.m.

QUESTION: Can you bring me up a glass of water?

WHAT I LEARNED: I'll never be a saint.

The other night, my son, my daughter, and I were all sitting in the living room watching TV. My son got pressed into making a snack for all of us because he made the mistake of foraging for food in the kitchen. He agreed to prepare everyone snacks and began working industriously in the kitchen. Finally he stepped out into the living room and said Ė I donít think Iíd like being a mom. You do this all the time and I donít even feel like doing it even once.

Brilliantly put. We all laughed. I was relieved. He got how I feel sometimes. His saying that instantly made me a bit more chilled out about the cook/handmaiden/chauffer/laundress/delivery person tasks that fall into my list of other maternal duties as assigned. Thatís where they always get you in a job Ė those other duties as assigned. I am beginning to think that indentured servants of old got more time off that the average 21st century mother.

For instance, kids who are going to bed want things done for them because it really does seem nicer if mom does them for you Ė please mom. Itís hard to say no because I innately know the value of a motherís touch in life and itís hard to say yes because Iím tired and overworked and ready to stop all motherly assistance for the day. Mainly the requests fall into these categories:

  • snacks
  • signature on forgotten documents or forms to fill out
  • emergency schoolwork/project
  • major state test preparation
  • important registration deadline
  • major impending decision to discuss at length
  • money
  • need for some must-wear tomorrow item in laundry
  • lost cell phones, paperwork, assignments, money, CD players, iPods, CDs, DVDs, hats, sunglasses, purses, wallets, shoes, articles of clothing, etc.
  • a glass of ice water

These request can be concurrent or sequential. Either way they suck up whatís left of mommyís ďquiet timeĒ.

Maybe they think mom needs more exercise. Maybe they think mom knows everything. Maybe they just need a helping hand as they try like everyone else to get it all done in the course of each day.

I donít know.

I want to model myself after Mother Theresa in these moments but it doesnít always work. I want to say Ė sure dear, Iíll fix you a snack and carry it upstairs to you on a tray or let me run that nice glass of iced water up to you while you get snuggled in under the covers. Instead I find myself saying - Mommy is not a short-order cook/delivery person/maid.

I want to say - itís okay that you forgot about the major state test preparation and left your study guide in your locker/didnít remember about the major paper due worth half your grade for the quarter and I can set aside all my stuff so we can deal with this totally understandable academic emergency. Instead I hear myself saying - I can't believe you forgot this test/project/homework until now. INSERT LITANY OF OTHER THINGS DONE HERE BY KID THAT DAY INSTEAD and this will yield greater dramatic effect. Personally, I find going over all the other stuff my kid did instead of the forgotten work - from going down the street to a friendís house, to watching TV - really adds to the drama of the situation and catapults me into my best I-feel-sorry-for-myself-because-now-I-have-even-more-to-do mode.

I want to say Ė itís no problem to run down to the laundry room and toss that item into the wash. Instead I often find myself saying Ė mom canít do the laundry this late. Why didnít you think about this earlier? And then I probably will say - bring it down here right now. I really donít have time to do this. (a great all-purpose line Ė especially when accented with a heavy sigh.). Inevitably I do wash the item as long as I get to stand in the laundry room while loading it in the washer muttering - mommy is not a servant.

I want to say - donít worry, dear. Iíll help you find the CD player/DVD/slip of paper/shirt you have to wear tomorrow. Instead I hear myself saying - this is ridiculous. We canít look for this now. And then Iíll get up and help them look for it while complaining about the waste of time and energy searching for lost items causes in my life. They are so glad when we find the item.

Sometimes I even complain about the glass of water because my teenagers never go to bed early enough and they want iced water at midnight. I guess I am going to have to give up my bid for sainthood or get the iced water.

I figure I better get the iced water.

Iíve got to work on this want to say/actually said thing. I'm a hopeless optimist.

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