Motherhood Is No Excuse: Why I Don't Want a Uterus-Appointed Pass Card
All month I’ve not only dropped the ball, but put it in the freezer, forgot about it, then accused the neighbor of stealing it. Here is just a brief recap of my mishaps, although I’m sure I’m forgetting one. I forgot to ship my sister’s baby shower present, forgotten birthdays, meetings, events, food in the oven, forgotten food entirely, left a candle burning on the mantle, forgot swimming lessons, broken cups, made endless messes, had to run to the grocery store almost every single day because I forgot ketchup, bruised my thighs more than I’d like to admit while doing the laundry and napkins haven’t been in my house since 2012.
Somehow, my daughter has made it through the month unscathed, although she is very concerned about mommy’s owies and why the floor is yucky.
My friends and family are suppressing their irritation in the kindest most Midwestern way possible: telling me it’s okay, I have a baby and can they help in any way.
What I want to say is: Please mop my floors so I can nap. But I want to keep them around, so I’ve just been muddling through this mess, taking everything one step at a time and hoping to holy hell that I don’t forget ketchup, again.
I remember being like this before Ellis was born. I had a couple deadlines for a certain large parenting website, and I just stared at my blank word document wondering how to type a coherent sentence. Do the quotation marks go outside of the dot thing or inside of the dot thing? Some days I want to pound the desk and yell, “I have a master’s degree! WHY CAN’T I REMEMBER PANTS?!”
The obvious answer is that I am pregnant, caring for a toddler, writing on deadlines, and planning a Listen to Your Mother Show. No, my floor is not clean. No, I have no idea what’s for dinner tonight, so stop asking.
As one of my friends put it, “You’re a mom. Go easy on yourself.” But the reality is I don’t want to make excuses. Having a uterus doesn’t make me entitled to any sort of get-out-of-jail-free card, nor do I want it. My sister-in-law has two boys, works a full-time job and somehow has never hit her head with a Pyrex while pulling it out of the dishwasher.
Recently, New York magazine ran a feature on feminist housewives. Women who are feminist and choose to stay home. That is me, in a sense. I am a feminist and in November I quit my part-time childcare so I could be home with my daughter. I work during nap time and in the evenings. And while I draw an income, calling it an income is a generous use of the term.
The article was infuriating, because many of the women profiled insist on perpetuating gender stereotypes. Arguing that they are the primary caretakers of their children because they are women. Our house seems gendered, but that’s because Dave loves his job and I want to write. I’ve always wanted to write. And together, Dave and I have worked to pay down debt, live frugally and make that dream happen. When it comes to housework, no matter how much I whine, we carry equal loads. I cook because I like it. And in the summer, he cooks because his grill is the other woman in our relationship.
I touch on this debate, because there is idea out there that glorifies the full-time mother as a sanctified calling, born of two X chromosome, a matching apron and a proclivity for Pinterest. But it’s not. I suck at crafts and the only apron I own has weird sunglasses on it. What I choose to do deserves no more get-out-of-jail-free cards than my friend who is a lobbyist or the girl I know who works at a preschool.
I don’t want a uterus-appointed pass card, because I don’t deserve one any more than my husband deserves one for working a long day, coming
home to tacos for dinner (again) and then listening to me complain about how Criminal Minds is a rerun. For all of us, life is a complicated sticky mess. We don’t need to demean one person’s calling to glorify our own. And pedestals only make it harder to fall. Children or not. Uterus or the lack thereof. We each deserve grace and space in our own measure. And if you tell me that I need to get my act together, you are right and I probably deserve it.
That said, I’m still parking in that expectant mother’s spot. But in my defense, I parked there LONG before I had kids.