Meredith C. Carroll: Meredith Pro Tem
There’s a letter currently making the rounds online, including on Gawker.com, which purportedly was written by a new mom to her friends about how they can help make her life easier now that she is the most important person in the world, which is to say: a new mom.”Come over at about 2 in the afternoon,” begins item No. 3 in the letter, “hold the baby while I have a hot shower, put me to bed with the baby and then complete one or more household chores, such as: fold laundry, scoop the litter box, take (our dog) for a well deserved walk or run around the neighborhood or park, clean the kitchen or the bathroom, vacuum.”Item No. 4 reads, “Come over at 10am, make me eggs, toast, and 1⁄2 a grapefruit. Clean my fridge and throw anything out that you doubt – don’t ask me, just use your best judgment. Clean the kitchen stove and the kitchen floor.” But nothing in the letter really beats item No. 5: “Come over in your work clothes and vacuum, dust, clean the litter box, and then leave quietly. It might be too tiring for me to chat and entertain, but it will renew my soul to get some rest knowing I will wake up to a clean, organized space.”It’s quite possible the letter is fake, although there’s little question that all of its requests (demands?) would be of invaluable assistance to new moms – or anyone whose household is lacking an indentured servant. Either way, it’s awfully hard to resist a smirk while reading it – not because the letter is so incredulously, outrageously and audaciously exacting (although that, too, of course) and would seem significantly more appropriate if it came from Miss Piggy or Mommie Dearest but because most not-so-new moms usually enjoy a wee bit of distance and perspective (unless her baby had colic and she is therefore still experiencing traces of post-traumatic stress disorder), which means they can giggle at newer moms just a wee bit.With all apologies to hookers, motherhood is easily the world’s oldest profession, and yet everyone who becomes one for her first time thinks she’s the first one ever to do it. You don’t need to go much farther than your Facebook newsfeed or the baby section of the drugstore to see that each baby’s diaper explosion, rash, gassy smile and unassisted lifting of the head is breaking news. Baby sleeps through the night? Stop the presses! Baby stops sleeping through the night? Alert the paid experts! Baby drinks formula? Duck and swerve the breast-is-best mafia! Baby annoys airline passengers? Tweet all about it!And for every new mom who panics/brags/cries/loses all color in her face when she realizes her child might have taken a sip from a bottle containing BPA, there is another mom with older children who smiles gently and patiently and tells her: This, too, shall pass.For every stage each child goes through, that child’s mom analyzes, discusses, frets about, records in a baby book, talks on the phone at great length and incurs overage charges on her texting allowance to ensure her baby is (A) normal and (B) totally awesome.For each of those children and their moms, there are many, many more moms of even older children who are onto bigger and better stages, phases, issues and reasons to brag in the annual family holiday newsletter. It stops becoming “Sweet Baby Harper shunned the processed chicken nuggets in favor of conflict-free-range chicken,” and it morphs into “Smart and serious Zane took it upon himself to create and complete an extra-credit robotics assignment because his grade-level science class only performs experiments that he actually mastered in utero.”And for each of those older children and their moms are the parents of adult children, who are toasting daily the fact that they have escaped – at long last – being constantly surrounded by newer moms and their old-hat problems.Finally, for each of them, are our moms, who shake their heads and remember how they did none of that when they were new moms, how we ate actual mud pie while dodging 18-wheelers while playing unattended at truck stops, and yet somehow, everyone survived. Our moms laugh on the inside at our bumper-free cribs without drop-sides as we shove positioners under our babies to ensure they don’t roll over on their bellies. They are secretly grateful and celebratory when we tell them we can’t, in good conscience, have them baby-sit overnight until (A) they renew their infant-CPR certification or (B) they can figure out how to use the text function on their cellphone in case they need to contact us in the event that our child’s lovey gets lost.And then at some point, we come together with our moms and guffaw alongside them as we read an inane list that goes viral about how some new mom thinks she’s special enough to require someone to “Come over to fold laundry or clean and give (Parent) a break so she can go enjoy some r & r, go to a coffee shop, a bar, or something else fun. Vacuum and fold more laundry. Clean the litter box” (Item No. 7 in the letter).Because it’s not about having fun, and frankly, it’s never again about you. It’s called being a mom.More at http://www.meredithcarroll.com
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