Momfession #54: Come here often?

Last night, I attended an after-work networking event. It was at a bar in downtown Toronto, and while not particularly fancy, it was a kid-free few hours out where I could have a drink and meet new people, and I was excited. At one point in the evening, I was chatting with a young(er) and somewhat attractive guy about work stuff when a much-younger-and-skinnier-than-me girl walked past. I watched with amusement as his gaze immediately shifted away from our conversation and toward the girl in the fitted red dress. I wasn’t at all offended (heck, I was checking the her out too) and I chalked it up to the obvious wedding ring on my finger and my business attire. It was only later that I started thinking about it, and wondering if those were the only reasons why I was no longer worthy of a check-out or some good old-fashioned flirting.

I used to love to flirt. And I was good at it. I was never the hottest, skinniest, sexiest woman in the room, but boy did I know how to flirt. I never had a problem finding men to flirt with on a given night; they always just sort of materialized. And I never for a second considered that the men I flirted with wouldn’t be interested in flirting back.

But once you become a mom, something happens. In fact, several things happen that seem to deter random men in bars from wanting to flirt with you. Apart from the obvious extra poundage, frumpy mom clothes, and wedding-ringed finger, something changes that I can’t quite comprehend. Maybe it is the slightly overenthusiastic look that I must have on my face, because I am out drinking a drink like a grown-up and talking to other grown-ups about grown-up things. Or maybe there are some sort of un-flirtworthy pheromones that a woman’s body produces once they birth a child. In any case, I am pretty sure that my days of being able to command a man’s attention in a room full of other women are long gone.

I would never want to trade the life I have now for my single days. Although it was fun to go out, flirt, and sleep until noon, and my boobs were much perkier then, I actually feel much more attractive and secure than I ever did in my twenties. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a part of me that misses being thought of as attractive by someone other than my husband and kids. It is flattering, obviously, but perhaps more than that, it is a reminder of the person I used to be before becoming “mom”. Sometimes, in the insanity of life with kids, I lose sight of that flirtatious, fun-loving, spunky girl that I used to know. And I miss her.

So if you’re a dude, and you ever see me out in a bar, buy me a damn drink. It won’t get you anywhere, but it will make this frumpy old mom feel a little bit more like a lady.

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Momfession #53: Control freak

Last night, while playing volleyball, I sprained my ankle. As soon as I landed (on a member of the opposing team’s foot, after a failed attempt to block a shot) I knew I was in trouble. The pain was so overwhelming I could do nothing but lay curled on the floor for a minute. It was the kind of pain that makes you want to throw up; anyone who has broken a limb or gone through labour knows exactly what I mean. My mind immediately started racing: what if it is broken? What if I have a cast? How will I get to work? Do I need crutches? How am I going to drop my daughter off at daycare? There’s no juice for breakfast…how am I going to go grocery shopping if I can’t walk? And on, and on.

My husband says I worry too much. That I should just relax and accept that sometimes, things just happen that I can’t control. And it is true. But when you have people depending on you, it is easier said than done. For one thing, I recently started a new job at a new company. When I say recently, I mean that today was my third day. And I have already had to take a sick day. I don’t think I have taken a sick day in over a year, and here I am, already taking time off. What must my new company think? I wonder. That I am a complete spaz? That I am one of those people who is always getting hurt? That I am a liability? Of course none of those things are true (although my spaziness is up for debate), and my new job and boss are awesome, but I still worry about the impression that this situation makes.

And then there’s the kids. Although they were really great today (K offered me her “comfy blanket” this morning and G helped me hobble around the house), I feel guilty about my state. I wasn’t able to get to the grocery store last night and they had no juice or milk at breakfast. I couldn’t carry K upstairs the way I normally do before bed. And I was extra irritable tonight with them as a result of my pain and discomfort. I felt like I failed them in the mom department today, although I am sure they didn’t notice one bit.

Maybe this is life’s way of telling me that I can’t always be the one in charge. That things will still be OK, even if I need to lean on other people for a change (literally and figuratively).That I can’t control everything, all of the time, and I need to accept that. And that worrying isn’t going to change any of that.

For me, and I think a lot of other moms, it is an extremely difficult challenge to overcome. We are used to being the ones in charge: running the household, booking the appointments, building our careers, nursing the boo-boos, setting the bedtime routines, and generally managing our lives and those of our family’s. So when I lose even a little bit of that control, I tend to panic. But in reality, any amount of control I think I may have over my life is a bit of a sham; there is really no way to control this great, crazy, unpredictable world that we live in. So why try? There are going to be sprained ankles and missed meetings, lost lunch bags and failed tests, natural disasters and financial issues, whether I like it or not. I guess I just need to put my feet up and accept the imperfection of it all.

So if you need me, I’ll be at home tomorrow, resting my ankle. I’ll be the one on the couch watching Netflix, wallowing in self-pity and cupcake crumbs.

Momfessional #50: Me, me, me

Nurse. Teacher. Friend. Professional. Sister. Daughter. Judge and jury. Cruise director. Housekeeper. Cook. Policewoman. Accountant. Interior decorator. Party planner. Veterinarian. Travel agent. Wife. Sex symbol. Bank machine. Commuter. Businesswoman. Blogger. Tailor. Laundromat. Organizer. Secretary. Mediator. Psychologist. Dictionary. Hairdresser. Doctor. Career woman. Student. Moral compass. Landscaper. Dietitian. Mom.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about who I really am. Maybe it’s because it is the most depressing time of the year, or maybe I’m having an early mid-life crisis, but either way I can’t stop thinking about ME. As in, what makes me happy? What am I good at? Can I really have it all? And if so, what does that even mean? I’m not just talking about a career, either. But life in general. What is the f**ing point of it all?

I’ll spare you the philosophizing. Suffice it to say that I have had some pretty deep thoughts running through my head recently (thankfully, I have watched enough episodes of the Real Housewives this week to balance out all that cerebral activity). And I know I am not alone. Fellow mommy bloggers and friends Not the Only Mama and Average Working Mom both posted recently about similar topics. While one mom asked herself if she’d ever feel on top of her game, and in control of her life again, the other wondered if she should be more career-oriented and focused on her job. But I think the thing that they were both really asking was the same thing that has been bothering me: am I doing enough?

Why do we beat ourselves up over that question? Why do we feel that we have to be everything to everyone? And to make matters worse, why, while we are carefully juggling about a thousand different labels —from cook, to career woman, to wife, to mother— do we stop and think, “shouldn’t I be doing MORE, or doing it BETTER, or making it more MEANINGFUL?” Why can’t we just accept that this life, right now, is the best life there is?

Maybe it is the curse of our generation. We were raised to believe that we could do anything we wanted; we had options like never before. We didn’t have to stay home and raise our children; we could have an education, high-powered careers, a husband that was also a hands-on dad. As fabulous as that all is, it is also incredibly unsatisfying. Because I never really feel like I am fully committed to one thing. Instead, I split myself into teeny, tiny pieces (one for my company, one for my husband, one for my family, one for my kids, one for my friends…) in an attempt to “have it all”. Only the more I think about it, the more I realize that “having it all” might actually be an unachievable myth.

I’d like to say that I am going to let it all go, and decide to live in the moment and never wonder if what I am doing is enough. But, I don’t think that is realistic. I may never feel totally satisfied about where I am in my life, and I might always wonder if I could do more. But, at least I know that I am not alone, and that there are moms just like me out there having the very same thoughts every day.

So this one goes out to you, fellow philosophical, overachieving moms. You might think too much, and you’re certainly all a little nuts. But you’re also all awesome and absolutely perfect, just the way you are.

So go open a bottle of wine and turn on some reality TV. The laundry will still be there tomorrow.

Momfession #1: No time for a “real” blog

There. I said it. My days are pretty full and I honestly don’t want to spend hours writing witty blog posts, linking in all of the trendiest parenting articles (which I don’t read) and making sure they are grammatically correct and hilarious.  But, I do have time to make a running list of things that I do which don’t adhere at all to the little parenting advice that I have read (mostly in beat up magazines at the doctor’s office…only after I have made my way through US Weekly, of course). There are so many “super moms” out there (if you’ve met one, you know what I mean) who make us other moms look/feel bad. So here I proudly sit, on my couch (covered in cat hair), dishes still in the sink, eating the rest of my kids’ goldfish crackers and watching wedding shows as I write about how I don’t have time to blog. Mom of the year…right here!

My hope is that you will want to contribute your momfessions too. So if you find yourself nodding in agreement while reading these, please send me a note with some of your own momfessions and I will include them in the Momfessional. Just email me at momfessional at gmail dot com.

C’mon…I know you’ve got some good ones you’re just dying to tell. Trust me, it feels great…just let it all out!