It was barely lunchtime on a weekday. Dressed in workout clothes with no makeup and my 15-month old in his car seat, my friend and I pulled up to the new “women’s food” restaurant in town (as my husband sarcastically called it) after our workout class. Not until we had sat down with plates of chicken salad did I have a déjà vu moment.
|With my son, Lane
Except this time the roles were reversed. For years I had sat with a coworker or my laptop and stared at those women. They were always thin and fit, dressed like avid marathon runners, with their hair pulled back and no apparent makeup. Each had a child or two, usually in a jogging stroller—the one “mom” accessory I actually thought was cool.
I glared at them from the drink fountain, as if my scowling face could make them care that I only had 45 minutes to be back at my office. In my mind they had been gabbing away for well over an hour while eating chick food after some mommy-and-me Pilates
class at the country club. I went on to imagine them getting mani-pedis before finally going back to their McMansions to watch Lifetime movies
while their toddlers napped.
Fast forward to today, and I am one of those women. Except that I am not like I imagined they were, which leads me to believe they might not be as I had imagined either. Yes, I do stay at home with my son and workout with friends and occasionally go to lunch and play dates afterward. But I also work from my home office 20 hours a week, live in a 1500-square foot home (to be generous), paint (and bite) my own nails, and use my child’s naptime to squeeze in a shower or throw dinner in the crock pot.
Not only that, but most of my mom friends also worked in some capacity, and those who didn’t were just as busy. Nobody sat around pampered in big estates while their husbands made millions. I also learned that it sometimes pays to not work anymore, as daycare can cost as much monthly as a modest mortgage payment.
I had more recently come to realize that despite going to the gym as much as I did B.C. (before conception), a lot the credit for my nicely toned arms and legs A.D. (after delivery) goes to carrying around a heavy toddler and all his accessories. Especially since chicken salad has a lot more fat in it than we all want to admit.
|Celebrating my mother’s 60th birthday
So maybe these women were rich and spoiled, or maybe I terribly misjudged them. Maybe they were middle class working women who had house payments and nubby fingernails just like me. Maybe their stylish gym clothes were Christmas gifts or the only new clothes they had bought themselves since Target
I never looked close enough to see the condition of their fingernails, much less their cars or homes. Perhaps my shallow assumptions really came from deep-rooted jealously at the thought of having a day to do whatever I wanted, when I wanted. I laugh at my naivety now, given the fact that I can’t go to the bathroom for two minutes without my son waddling down the hall after me.
Just like everything else in my life, the fantasy version in my mind was much less complicated and stressful. Long before I had started my career, gotten married, bought a house, or worked from home, I had played out all these visions in my head. Each of these steps would somehow complete me and be in my opinion “perfect.”
Motherhood is no different, as I should have expected since anything that yields great reward requires great sacrifice. All mothers deserve applause, and not just a standing ovation, but one of those cool slow claps
like you see in teen movies from the 1980s. Most of all, I am proud to admit that I am one of those