I’ve never been one for ladies lunches, coffee clotches or gossiping. That being said, I do love it when I’m chatting with a mom-friend and we accidentally validate eachother. One of us will say, I do that too! and then we both feel better.
Each week, at Madeleine’s dance class, I sit with a mom-friend (let’s call her Evelyn) and we talk and laugh about the adventures and/or challenges we had the previous week. Finally, I can safely say that there’s at least one other person on the planet that has thoughts, worries and neuroses identical to mine. Hurray!
This week, Evelyn and I chatted about her youngest daughter’s recent habit of waking up in the middle of the night. The worst part is that she doesn’t want to go back to sleep until the sun is beginning to rise.
“I was stupid enough to believe that the nights were mine again, that I could sleep through the night. I don’t even know what the problem is. She’s just wide awake,” Evelyn said. “I’m not gonna make it,” she said with her head in her hands, but still managing to smile.
We tossed ideas around. Was it night-terrors? Cutting another tooth, maybe?
Her daughter was sitting on the floor, listening to tap shoes tapping away behind the door of the studio, munching contentedly on cookies – no evidence that she had been up half the night.
Evelyn sipped Coke through a straw, “I’m addicted to soda. And I hide it from my husband so he doesn’t know that I’m having a bad day. Isn’t that ridiculous? And this straw is broken. Can I tell you how frustrating that is?”
“Do you worry about playdates?” I asked. “How can I let Luke go to someone’s house if I don’t know the parents? It seems completely crazy to me that parents allow that.”
“I don’t do playdates,” she said. “I don’t tell the kids, either, so it hasn’t become an issue. But their playdates usually happen because I’m friends with the other kid’s mom. And I don’t do sleepovers. They have a bed. In our house.”
I was enjoying Evelyn’s unapologetic matter-of-factness. Sometimes as a mother it’s easy to forget, under the scrutiny of your friends and family, that you don’t have to explain yourself for the decisions you make for your children.
“Yeah, I always thought that was weird, to send your kid over to someone’s house. A stranger’s house. How would I know if you have a big, ferocious dog or a gun in the house? These are all questions I have to ask.”
The dance instructor changed the music and now a Disney Princess CD was playing songs from The Little Mermaid.
“I always feel like if the house is a mess when my husband comes home, then I’ve failed for the day. Like he’ll look around and think What exactly did you accomplish today?” I said.
Evelyn nodded, “If the day didn’t start out great and the beds never got made, I’ll go upstairs and make the beds at 5:30pm. Making the beds sets the tone for the day. For being organized.”
“And if the dining room table has papers and mail and unfolded laundry on it, the entire house feels messy. But if that one surface is clear, then I perceive the house as more organized. That sounds crazy, I know.”
“My husband says that because I use a cookie cutter for the kids’ sandwiches that I’m wasting ‘product’. And that I should cut out the bread first and then put the filling so I don’t waste bread and filling.”
All I could do was laugh.
“Really. Why doesn’t he just make their lunches?” she said.
The instructor opened the door of the studio and eight little ballerinas fluttered out to collect their well-earned lollipop at the end of class.
Back at home, I took Madeleine out of the car and watched her, in her lavender tutu and cableknit legwarmers, prancing about on the grass with her purple fairy wand and muttering “Dum-dee-dum-dum” in that sweet whisper that only little children possess. I was reminded of how much joy there is in being a mother, being her mother – whether or not my house is pristine, and whether or not I lose sleep over who my kids can have playdates with.
She is just perfect. I must be doing something right.