I found two things of note today. One is that I am, in fact, a mom. The other, that I have a ridiculous number of hand-me-down jeans that have or quickly develop holes in the crotch. I will address each in turn.
First, after almost a decade of doing this whole mothering thing, realizing that I am a mom came as no great shock to me. What was a bit surprising was what kind of mom I can be. You see, I pride myself in that I am the anti-mom of moms who still actually cares for and nurtures her child (as opposed to the anti-moms who inspire books like Mommie Dearest). I am the mom who keeps a notebook of my "mommy fails" and delightedly relates them to people at cocktail parties. I am the mom who takes my kid to cocktail parties and art museums and wine tastings and the opera. I am the mom who throws her kid a kegger for his first birthday and stuffs his pinata with brussel sprouts on his eight. I am the mom takes her kid mud puddle splashing in the middle of a freezing rain storm and then "hot tubs" in the bathtub with beverages (of which I insist he calls his "kinderbeer"). I am the mom who rarely does play dates because I don't easily make mommy friends, so my son spends most of his free time with adults (he begs to go to school so that he can be with other kids). But I am also the mom who makes sure my son goes to bed at 8pm pretty much every night. I am the mom who packs cut carrots and "I love you" notes in his lunch box. I am the mom who reads to my son every day. I am the mom who takes him camping and hiking and biking. I am the mom who makes him bathe and brush his teeth. I am the mom who makes sure that when we hot tub in the bathtub, we wear bathing suits because no son needs to remember what his mom looks like naked. I am the mom who has taken him to horrific and germy kid birthday parties because other kids' moms seem to think those kind of parties are fun (hoof and mouth disease, anyone?). I am the mom who has sat up all night with him when he has been sick and struggled with him to learn a particularly hard spelling word. I am the mom who has left her dinner at restaurants because he was done for the night. I am the mom who has gotten him a bounce house for the last four of his birthdays.
These moms apparently war within me. The one who wants to just treat him like a little midget friend (I mean, who doesn't love a midget?) and the other who knows that she needs to let him be a kid. While he did come into my world and I don't have to be suddenly all Thomas the Train and Super Mario Brothers, I do need to respect that he is a little growing human who has interests and needs that are developmentally appropriate (though if he doesn't stop talking about Pokemon soon, I swear . . . ). It's not about sacrificing my person hood for his but about recognizing that I have chosen a pretty big responsibility and that I can chose to either help set him up to be a pretty interesting and functioning adult (albeit with some therapy bills) or a pretty annoying and fucked up individual. I hope and work for the former, but sometimes there are days like today where I think, "Holy shit, what have I become?"
Today, I got a call from a mom of a kid in my son's class. She was panicked and asked if I could watch her kid today (To quote, "I am reaching out to you, hoping . . . " How do you turn that down?). I don't know the mom at all, but I've interacted with the kid a few times, and he seemed pretty chill and my son really likes him. So, I told her to bring the boy over (side note: where my son is a petite little guy, this boy is a giant. They would literally be standing on opposite ends of the line if they organized their class by height). Suddenly, I morphed into June Cleaver. It was raining, so the boys played video games downstairs. I blithely trotted down with fresh-popped popcorn and napkins so they wouldn't get the controllers greasy. I served them beverages (kinderbeers). I made sandwiches with sliced cucumbers and the crusts cut off for lunch and for dinner I made them homemade fried chicken with steamed broccoli. I wore an apron. I mean, who does that? I don't even like chicken (it is a filthy animal) and I've never made fried chicken before in my life. What's next? Another child? Am I about to become a breeder? I can only hope that the beer I drank before noon counters these new developments.
The second is less remarkable really and sort of fits into the whole June Cleaver channelling I was doing. I do indeed have a large number of hand-me-down jeans with awkward holes. What's even weirder is that my jeans don't come from a single source. Every hand-me-down jean I have from every different person (well, except the ones from my 25-inch waisted friend since I can't even get my big toe into those) has these holes. How are they coming into being? I have never encountered this problem before in my own pants. Is it the quality of jeans these days? Is it the fact we are now women and our thighs rub together at a certain place, creating friction wearing? I don't know. But I love used jeans. Hand-me-down jeans are really the best jeans you can ever get (seriously, nothing destroys an already fragile self-image faster than jeans shopping . . .how you can look even more out of shape and pasty with pants on than you do naked, I do not understand). What can I do? I can't just throw them away; they are so amazing. So today, I didn't. As part of my homemaker sickness, I pulled out my sewing machine and darned the crotch on all the jeans I have. I threaded bobbins, used reinforcing materials, and stitched my way into whole jeans. It was an act of renewal second only to childbirth.
Granted these jeans do have multicolored darns in my nether areas; however, I think June Cleaver would still be proud of me. And if, after a few early beers, she wore jeans and would let you look at her lady-parts area, you might have seen a darn or two there as well.
The art of being Californian, it seems, is to cultivate a loose-limbed insouciance while secretly working away like a frantic ant.
--Richard Fortey The Earth: An Intimate History
--Richard Fortey The Earth: An Intimate History