“I like one hair, tuna fish, the smell of rain and things that are pink. I hate pimples, baked potatoes, when my mother’s mad, and religious holidays.”
― Judy Blume, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
So here I am, lit by the familiar and comforting glow of my computer screen, reeling in the demands of my role as “mommy of 4″… the t-shirt I threw on immediately after the first volleyball team meeting.
I sat at that meeting, a little bit nauseous and completely overwhelmed, and 100% resentful of any parent there who has an only child … even two kids… If you have only two kids, tonight, you are on my shit list. I know I chose this life and I really do love, love, love, all four of my bambinos, but that meeting? It killed a little piece of my soul.
I started to blank out and hear Charlie Brown adult murmurs after I looked at the tournament schedule. Sports, team building activities, auctions…”Playing with aggression and playing to win” is so foreign to me that I think my immune system just kicks into protect me and my ears start buzzing. I hate team work. Always have. I remember being a sophomore in high school, the first week into a US History class, and our teacher asked what our least favorite things about school was and I raised my hand and said, “group work.”
It makes me think of Quinn and his three year old need for independence. These days, everything is, “I can do it myself.” Turns out, that raising four kids and working a full time, highly demanding job that pays shit (but is fun), also demands that I rely on other people.
As I sat through the two hour presentation (“those ankle supports were designed thirty years ago and she really does need the newest technology for support/you are required to order warm ups and a back pack”) I just thought about these five things:
1. Quinn and how I am failing him as a mom because I have not even seen him today and holy crap, look at this schedule and all of the time in the car and all of the weekends away and really, I should be home with him, reading books or teaching him the alphabet.
2. Wow, this is really an amazing opportunity for Elizabeth and I am so proud of her and this coach is gonna be great and how the fuck did the assistant coach break her back playing volleyball and how am I going to pay for this and why on earth does Lizzie want to spend four nights a week working out when she could be drawing or reading or making pie?
3. Oh my gosh I am so glad I don’t have to follow this tournament schedule and help Luke apply to colleges in the same year, but man he was good in Godspell and it is so terrible that I did not bake something for the cast party. I did not even send a bag of chips for crying out loud. Jesus, Quinn, one day you will be the only one home and I will be that mom who makes cupcakes with every cast members name scrawled across the top and I will volunteer for shit and all the other moms won’t hate me or think that I am selfish.
4. William. Sigh, William. He fell off of his loft bed in the middle of the night and sprained his wrist, which made his tryout for volleyball a giant suck fest. Plus, he has to try out for U13’s when his birthday is only two weeks away from being a U12 and so all of those boys were taller and they all knew each other and William did not get an offer and he cried all the way home and oh my gosh what can I do to make that hurt not sting?
5. My mind flashed to all of the instagram photos that my cousins David and Jodi took this month on their amazing trip to the English country side. These made me so envious and kind of panicked, like maybe I should have done that (stayed in a hotel facing the sea) before I had all of these kids and maybe I missed my chance to really be somebody and maybe I will never get to travel because holy fuck I still have a three year old and oh my good lord what will I do with my time once all of these babies actually have their own lives?
And then I came home and had a giant vodka and two lemons. Once my heart stopped racing, I thought about the Judy Blume book, “Are you there God, It’s Me Margaret?” and about that quote about tuna fish.
I like sitting in the audience of a darkened theater watching Luke sing. I like watching Lizzie jump four feet off the ground and make a kill. I love peeking into William’s room to see that all of his erasers and skateboards, and wristbands, and sunglasses are lined up in perfect form, just like any designer would do. I like sleeping in a circle, with my body wrapped around Quinn’s, with his little feet wedging themselves into my thigh, the sound of his breathing setting the pace for my own slumber. But I know that I like motherhood, so can I make a Judy Blume-esque sentence about me that is not related to being a mom?
“I like lemons, vodka, gouache, the smell of kid skin, Gary Soto poetry, and avocados. I hate traffic, long lines, loud voices, cleaning, eating on the grass, and any sport that makes my boobs bounce.”
Knowing that about me … just truly knowing that those two sentences are wholly true allows me to trust myself and to know that even in my shortcomings, I am capable and okay and that I am “still in there,” despite the “mommy of four” demands.
Sean just walked into the room behind me and started to undress for bed. He said, “I know what I want for my birthday now. I want an American flag and satin running pants.” In a million years, I never would have uttered that sentence, or, for that matter, Judy Blume’s.
I think what finally made me calm down from the meeting was not the vodka or Judy Blume, but in coming to the realization that Lizzie’s story is not my story and I am not the one who has to show up to play aggressively and to win at all costs (with a group).
I just have to drive her there.