Read an Excerpt
I Am Mommy, Hear Me Roar1
A long time ago, I gave up using the name on my birth certificate and just started referring to myself as Mommy. As in:
“Come give Mommy a kiss.”
“Tell Mommy where it hurts.”
“I told you Mommy’s ears can’t hear whining.”
“Mommy’s face looks like this because Mommy just found out that somebody used her lace tablecloth to wipe off fingernail polish.”
I knew I wasn’t alone on that either. I know for a fact that none of my friends have names. We greet each other in the market:
“Hi, Sarah’s mom!”
“Hi, Laura’s mom!”
The vet even calls me “Blackie’s mom.”
I may not have a real name, but you know who I am. There’s a container of Gak dumped in a corner of my living room carpet and the moldy remains of a peach deemed too gross to eat stuffed in the cushions of my couch. I walk around the house with dryer lint and used Q-tips in the pocket of my robe. I spend the majority of my day behind the wheel of a car—traveling hundreds of miles to and from softball practice, cheerleading practice, and trips to the market—yet never leave the city limits. I can’t do a quadratic equation, but I can tell you how to get to Sesame Street.
My prayers are often frantic and generally specific. (“Lord, please help my child throw up in the bucket and not on the wall.”) At times I pray to be made invisible, like during PTA meetings when they need someone to chair the fifth grade fundraising car wash or during the Christmas program when it’s my child up on stage singing, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me,” as she proceeds to slug the boy standing next to her.
I know you know me. I wash my children’s faces with spit and my thumb. Pick at the dirt behind their ears. Whine about their whining. Nag about their nagging. Worry that I’ll never live to see the day they’ll change their underwear without coercion or threats of bodily harm.
I have eyes in the back of my head and a nose that can sniff out doggy doo-doo on a sneakered foot fifty yards away. I have ears that can hear Oreo cookies being eaten underneath the covers by a child who is supposedly asleep. With just one sideways glance, I can tell who sharpened her crayon with my eyeliner pencil sharpener and who accidentally-on-purpose let the bathroom sink overflow.
A few years ago, you would have recognized me as the one with strained chicken and peas plastered in my hair and a faraway look in my eyes, as I dreamed of a life that was not planned around nap time and late night feedings. I was the one who, when asked by a poll-taker to name my favorite male television performer, answered without hesitation, “Ernie from Sesame Street.”
Once upon a time I had a stomach that didn’t fall to the floor. Once, I had hips that didn’t serve as a baby saddle and a shelf for grocery bags. Once, I could even take a bath. Alone. All by myself. Without someone pounding on the closed door, asking if she could use the blue food coloring or “just wondering” if Super Glue ruins dining room tables.
If you looked in my closet you’d find baggy sweats with elastic waists; big, long sweaters; and pull-on pants. Forget Bill Blass and Anne Klein, give me Hanes Her Way any day.
You know who I am. I eat standing up. “Breakfast” consists of the soggy cereal left in bowls on the kitchen table, the ends of bread left in the bag, and blobs of strawberry jam scraped from the counter. I grab lunch on the run from a drive-through window and nibble on dinner as I cook it. I finish everyone else’s ice cream, then wonder why I can’t ever seem to lose weight.
Don’t tell anyone, but I live for bedtime. I yearn for the sounds of a child’s slumber. I long for my own head to hit the pillow. I pine for (yawn)…zzzzz.
You know me. I’m the one with the knot in her stomach, praying her child will figure out how to turn over on the playground turnover bar so she won’t be humiliated in front of her classmates during gym class. I’m the one who drinks the powdered milk so the rest of the family can have the “real” stuff. I’m the one who eagerly counted the days until both daughters went to school, then cried when that day finally arrived.
I’m the one who willingly suffered through morning sickness, swollen ankles, uncontrollable crying jags, and overwhelming desires for lemon meringue pie and out-of-season blackberries. (Not to mention pushing a bowling ball through a part of my body a bowling ball doesn’t normally fit—twice.)
I’m the one frightened voices call for in the middle of the night. I’m the one who changes wet sheets at three in the morning, rocks a nightmare-stricken preschooler back to sleep at four, then gets up at five to let the dog out.
I’m the one who, despite an utterly selfish nature and a propensity toward evil (in addition to an inadequacy in and of myself and a definite lack of experience), God chose as caretaker, teacher, and nurturer for two totally dependent little sinners.
With apologies to the Peace Corps, I have the toughest job anyone will ever love. I am battle-weary from refereeing squabbles over who did or did not do the dishes last and battle-scarred from getting smacked in the thigh by a line-driven softball during backyard batting practice. Still, I endure.
Who am I? I am a cooker of oatmeal and cleaner of soap scum. A taxi driver, spider killer, purchaser of folders with pockets and prongs, pencil finder, and dental appointment maker. Loudest cheerleader and most fervent pray-er, encourager of dreams and holder of hands. I am a tear wiper and boo-boo kisser, the toothbrushing gestapo and an example of faith. You know who I am.
I am a mother.
1. "I Am Mommy, Hear Me Roar" taken from Mom on the Run by Nancy Kennedy. Copyright © 1996. Used by permission.