Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Introduction: Diet Coke is Your Friend

This blog is designed to introduce the idea of, and get feedback for, a book of essays I am working on called, "How I Killed the Tooth Fairy, and Other Tales of Flawed Mothering..." I am exploring the whole notion of trying to be the very best mother I can possibly be, and the inevitable mistakes that have accompanied these efforts.
As I've been writing these essays, I am realizing that I'm not just a flawed mother---I'm a flawed wife, daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, sister-in-law and friend too (big surprise!) But there's a limit to the amount of self-flagellation I can publish (or tolerate), so let me just stick to the mistakes I've made as a mother. For now.
I have two sons, David, 6 and Matthew, 10, and one husband, 42, who prefers not to be named, so I will just call him 42. Sometimes I feel that I am just doomed---that there is no way that neurotic, selfish, moody and conflicted me can possibly raise my two sweet boys and turn them into decent, confident, loving and honest men. But I am trying.
Fortunately, 42 is a decent, confident, loving and honest man, so I figure that some of his goodness is bound to rub off on our sons. But since I am the one who does most of the day-to-day feeding/driving/scheduling/supervising/listening to and yelling at (thus the title of this blog, P-Rant), I worry that I will exact more influence over our boys than my husband will.
Have my mistakes already harmed my children? Do they see how compulsive I am? How tired? How hostile? How frustrated? Do they realize that even though I had the luxury of choosing to be an overeducated, underemployed, suburban Mom, I sometimes yearn to be the chronically overworked and underpaid, occasionally sexually harassed, urban journalist I once was?
Do my kids see that driving them a half an hour to school each day, and making an hour round trip to hockey practice, three times a week, is not the most fun I've ever had in a car?
Do they realize that this summer, I am damn glad, and positively giddy, that the 10-year old is going to sleepaway camp for five weeks, and the 6-year old is at day camp for eight hours a day, because I finally get time alone?
Yes, I think they do. I think my two boys are onto me, and they know I am not always into them, and in the process of loving them and raising them, I make mistakes. Lots of them.
Take Tuesday morning. David did not want to go to camp. He had had a headache the night before, and vomited. I gave him Tylenol, lay next to him while he fell asleep, rubbed his head and knew there was a chance he would not go to camp the next day. The next morning, he seemed fine. He really did. But he wanted to stay home. He said he wanted to be with me, but mostly he wanted stay home and watch TV and attend to his Webkins. To make his stay-at-home argument, he invoked the name of the sainted Miss Suzie, his kindergarten teacher.
"Mom," David said, " Miss Suzie says you're supposed to stay home 24 hours after you puke."
"No," I countered. "Miss Suzie says you're supposed to stay home 24 hours after you have a fever."
"Mom," David said, exasperated. "You just want to stay home and be alone. You don't want to be with me. You don't like me."
Well, he'd gotten the first part right. I did relish my eight-hour shift alone. And I was planning to go for a run with our dog Roxy, read my email, get my teeth bleached, make ceviche and marinate tuna and swordfish for a Fourth of July barbecue we were having the next night.
So I did what any flawed mother would do: I gave my son a cold can of diet Coke, told him to finish his bagel with cream cheese, take his vitamin and brush his teeth. He whined but obeyed. Then I covered him with suntan lotion and kisses, handed him his lunch, and put him on the camp bus.
I waited for the camp nurse to call me and tell me David was sick. She did not. So I spent the day doing what I needed (translation: wanted) to do. I wrote, I ran, I cooked. I went to the dentist. Then I sat on the front stoop of our house and waited for the bus. David got off the bus sweaty, cheerful and healthy. He let me give him a kiss and barely paused to say hello before running over to the neighbor's, where he spent two hours playing with three other boys from camp, eating Domino's pizza and acting out Pokemon moves.
I have to give credit to that diet Coke. It jump-started my son's morning. Of course, only a flawed mother gives her son a can of diet Coke for breakfast, but that diet Coke accelerated my son's recovery, I know it did.

Next topic: Can Botox make you a better mother?


  1. i loved this! found it fascinating. of course i'm your mother and love you and the children, so no wonder.

  2. Take off the hair shirt (or sports bra) and stop self-flagellating! You are not nearly as flawed as you suggest! We all go Alec Baldwin on our children at times, Perhaps there is a niche for a parenting book called "We're Just Not That Into Them"? (Btw, how did your teeth turn out?)

  3. This was so interesting to me as I like to know every detail about my grandchildren. Loved reading it and looking foward to the next installment.

  4. wow! i felt like i was reading about my own feelings... brutally honest and tremendously funny -- yet, i could not have written same quite so well. oh, and by the way, if you could put a smack-down on feeling so "flawed," perhaps i will feel less guilty about having the same feelings...

  5. You are hilarious, always have been and always will be. You go to Don't Go There. I love it!

  6. Vanity is related to sanity, as you stated in another blog, and I heartily approve of very strong coffee or tea in the mornings, and "fine" dining in the evenings including a glass of wine and candles.
    Add to this recipe for a good life several more things: treadmill/hot tub/shower at the health club, great Francis Cabrel music, travel, and one ironclad rule: You hafta laugh at something every single day you have left on this earth even if you are following all of the above tips and are still somehow managing to have a lousy day.
    So whadayathink? I am also a W.grad but ten years your senior!!!

  7. Thank you for reading this blog! I love when Wellesley grads tune in. Did you find this blog through the alumnae magazine? And I agree with you. You have to stay caffeinated and hydrated and laugh out loud at least once daily.

  8. Thank you for reading this blog! I love when Wellesley grads tune in. Did you find this blog through the alumnae magazine? And I agree with you. You have to stay caffeinated and hydrated and laugh out loud at least once daily.