I'm Missing the Mommy Gene
When my son was born, I ran out and joined the first mom’s group that I could find. And then I promptly quit it. I was so looking forward to the companionship of other females, but what I found were these odd one-up-manship mommy power-hours, where women, clothed in vegan, organic cotton yoga ensembles sparred endlessly over any and all parenting-related topics. You use cloth diapers? Well we make our own cloth diapers from recycled nun’s habits. You make your own baby food? Well I nursed my first child until he left for college… for his master’s degree. You don’t vaccinate? Well we made a salve from the afterbirth and rubbed it on the baby’s body under a full moon while praying to the goddess to protect our offspring in healthy white light.
I just don’t have that “mommy” gene. The one that drives some women to channel their whole being and essence into their offspring. They have blogs dedicated to their children. They handcraft amazing and creative games and cards and decorations for their kid’s birthday parties. They paint their baby’s walls with cutesy sayings and adorable characters. They host themed play dates. They sew costumes and make wacky hats for wacky hat day at school. They take zillions of photos with their SLRs and then scrapbook every event of their child’s life, cutting out charming letters that spell out whimsical observations. ”Kaden tasted strawberries for the first time today. He said they tasted like sunshine.”
The children of these parents are probably very very lucky. Who wouldn’t want a mother who doted upon them in such creative and fantastical ways? I probably would have loved that! But I think that my mom was missing the “mommy” gene also, because my youth had none of the above. When I was about 8-years-old, my therapist told my mom that I needed a “god box” to put my worries in. My mom went home, bee-lined for the bathroom, opened the cabinet under the sink and came out with a partially empty tampon box. She removed the remaining tampons and presented the empty box to me, proclaiming, “Now you have your very own god box!” Is it any wonder that I was in therapy at age 8?
I don’t blame my mother for failing to instill in me the joys of domesticity. She really couldn’t convince herself that the domestic life was the good life, so she wasn’t going to waste her time filling my head with such nonsense. Instead, she taught me the importance of being self-reliant -- to find something you love and pursue it with all of your heart. This served me well. I’ve found great success in my career because of this tenacity and drive. But it makes it hard for me to connect to other moms -- unless it’s in the hallway at work and we’re comparing techniques for removing milk and bits of dried oatmeal from our work attire… or discussing how to recover on the fly when your child uses your marketing presentation to draw pictures of his favorite Power Rangers (a fact that you failed to discover until mid-presentation in front of a bunch of corporate bigwigs, not that this has ever happened to me).
I sometimes fantasize about being a stay-at-home-mother. Shortly after the fireman was born, I called up all of my clients and told them that I was quitting the freelance game. ”Find yourself another writer,” I proclaimed. ”I’m now a stay-at-home mom!” Only a few short days later I was crawling back to them, tail between legs, pleading temporary, hormone-induced insanity. While I loved the special moments that my newborn and I were sharing, I was longing for the challenge and reward that my work provided. I needed to use the part of my brain that didn’t know how to swaddle a baby or operate a breast-pump. I needed to flex my “career” gene.
Is that what it comes down to? We either get the “mommy” gene or the “career” gene? And some very very lucky women get the special hybrid gene that allows them to excel at both mommyhood and their career? They can write amazing ad campaigns by day and knit monogrammed day-of-the-week underwear for their children by night? Is there an outstanding “lover” gene also? I mean, if we’re going to start asking for the ridiculous, I might as well ask for it all, right? I would really like the gene mutation that makes you a powerful career woman/kick-ass mommy/undercover lover extraordinaire. Wait! Wait! I also want the good hair gene, because my hair is really curly, but frizzy curly, not naturally shiny and wavy curly. So, to summarize, I want the gene mutation that makes me a powerful career woman/kick-ass mommy/undercover lover extraordinaire/super-intelligent super model (I added the intelligence in because I didn’t want the supermodel request to cancel out my career gene). If any of you other mother’s out there have found the dark corner of the internet where one can procure such a tincture, inbox me. I’m going to need all of the help I can get!
Photo Credit: certified_su.