Sunday, November 16, 2014

Emotional Spanx

Tonight's cocktail is a peach-infused margarita. When I failed to make pies with all the late-summer fruit I bought, I soaked it in liquor. The sweetness of the peaches works well with the smokiness of the tequila, but you don't get that syrupy in-your-face sweetness like you would from a commercial peach margarita mix. All you have to do is toss peach slices in tequila and let it sit for a week. Decant and strain the liquor (you can keep it in the freezer if you're not using it right away), and make margaritas: 3 parts tequila to 1 part Cointreau to 1 part agave syrup to 1 part lime juice.

Lately lots of my friends have been joining me in the over-40 crowd, and I've been thinking about the differences between how I navigate the world as a 40-something vs. a 30-something. When Tweak was born, I was 31, and for Tink, I was 33. I launched into the stay-home mom world with an infant and a "spirited" toddler, and I've noted for the record that the combo completely kicked my ass. At the time, I would have been horrified to admit that I frequently considered faking my death, changing my name, and moving somewhere nobody would ever find me. For some reason, it was always Arkansas, where I've never been, though I'm told the Ozarks are beautiful.

See? Lovely!
In those days, it seemed clear that everyone else knew something I didn't. For example, all the other moms, finding themselves in the bathroom stall at Target with a toddler and an infant, were able to say, in a sing-songy voice, "OK, cross your arms, criss-cross-applesauce!" Followed by a steady patter of soothing speech and presumed non-touching of the disgusting surfaces. Meanwhile, I was shrieking, "Oh my God, NO! Why would you touch that! And don't ... no, not in your mouth! And not in your sister's mouth! What did I just say? NO! Do NOT open the door. Don't! Mommy needs her privacy! AAAAAUUURRRGHH!"

I determined that I must be a freak. My work-outside-the-home mom friends, who I'd left to stay home, always pined for their babies, as I did when I was one of them. If they were staying home, THEY wouldn't have a psychotic break while trying to poop at Target and count the minutes until their children's bedtime because they weren't sure how much more of this they could take. They would be loving on their kids, making muffins and singing with their adoring offspring, and scrapbooking their precious memories during naptime. What was my excuse?

Eventually, I learned that although I might have been teetering off the rails for awhile there, I wasn't alone. The vast majority of us have been stressed-out Target poopers at one point or another - that's the norm. The moms who act as if their kids radiate sunshine and never push their buttons are usually very heavily medicated, or else they're one leaky sippy cup away from completely losing their minds.

Here's my take. Walking around trying to maintain the Perfect Mommy facade is the emotional equivalent of wearing Spanx. Yes, you can pull off the look, but it's not very comfortable after awhile, and you long to get home and peel them off. But when everything is hanging out again, you feel bad about the way you really look. Isn't it better to just accept who you are, and realize that you are exactly the mother your kids need? I've found that since I stopped worrying about what my parenting looks like to the outside world, I've been much more effective and much happier. Sure, sometimes my imperfections are obvious to the world, but at least I'm authentic.


  1. BRAVO!! Take those Spanx off - I love the metaphor! xoxo

  2. Kathleen,
    I love this! So much. You nailed the metaphor!

    1. Thanks! Isn't it great to get rid of the chafing?

  3. Ah! So glad I found this post on the PBN thread! I AM the struggling mom like you were when you had little ones, and most days I can barely make it to their bedtime. My kids occasionally throw me a bone and make it all worth it :). Blogging and connecting with other honest moms has probably saved my sanity. Thank you for sharing!
    ~Julia Arnold

  4. Ha! Yes-- the spans analogy is PERFECT.


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