I found my 15 year old daughter on the roof the other day. Like all anxiously engaged parents, I promptly grabbed my camera. Upon asking her "For why are you up there?" she responded that she had climbed out the window to get away from her little brother and his friends with their completely nonsensical vernacular. They were seeing if they could successfully lower their IQ by using the phrase "yer mom" 100 times in less then 10 minutes. She couldn't take it and I can't say that I blame her. She made the quickest and closest exit, the window. They then locked her out. I would have been furious if I could've kept a straight face long enough. I also made a mental note to teach her how to sneak out of a house. Obviously she's really bad at it.
Which brings me to my point. I'd thought I'd make a list of the ways in which my job title, "mom" and it's derivatives, are used in vain.
1. "Yer mom" The origins of this particular phrase are a mystery to me. My 12 year old son says this ALL THE TIME. WTF does it even mean? What does it refer to?
My favorite color is blue. Yer mom.
Which way is it to Sesame street? Yer mom.
I'm hungry. Yer mom.
I could go on forever with this one if it wasn't for ....
2. "Like a mother." This obviously has to do with the pain involved in bringing a kid into the world. Hence, when someone says "this hurts like a mother" they had better be describing something akin to straddling dynamite.
3. "Mama fat jokes" I believe this particular American tradition started on Saturday Night Live. Example: Your mama so fat, she sat on Walmart and lowered the prices." Hard not to smile, right? And yet....
4. "Mom, mom, mom, mom, MOM!" Once is enough, people. Once is enough. This is the reason I started calling my mom by her first name as a teenager. She stopped responding to mom. Again, can't say I blame her.
So let's discuss motherhood in all it's raw glory.
Here's the deal: I don't take the creation of humans, the demands of molding those youngins into responsible, smart, hard-working, compassionate people, or the all-encompassing demands of motherhood lightly. I went into this motherhood thing with my eyes wide open only to realize how entirely blind I actually am. This is freaking hard peeps. Awesome...yes! Wouldn't trade it for the world... yes! Hard...hell yes.
The truth is motherhood is pure joy and pain. It's silly, repetitive, hard and downright hilarious some days. We wipe, wire, wilt, glue, counsel, draw, delight, cheer, demand, remind, remember, remind, hand hold, withhold, push, teach, pull, shove, lift, laugh, rejoice, drive, sit, stay, drive some more, cook, clean, read with or at, dress, shop, wash, cry, hold and remind a little more. And that's just the first hour of the day! It's been said that "Family is who we love the most and treat the worst. (Marjorie Hinckley)" Mamas feel this the most acutely. Ever try to stop a sibling battle or tantrum, one of the 9000 a day, with logic? Oh, really? Was it successful? You're cute.
Tevye from "A Fiddler on the Roof", looked heavenward a lot. Don't we all? When trying to describe his existence to his audience he says"every one of us is a fiddler on the roof trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck." If this isn't a perfect description of parenthood, I don't know what is. So when people discuss the hardest and most sacred of callings, momhood, with a side of demeaning sarcasm, I cringe a bit. Don't you see me treading water unsuccessfully with my head barely breaking the surface? Don't mind me, I'm just dancing on the rooftop over here trying not to break my neck. My kids see it all because I'm a brutishly honest person who values authenticity. They see me dancing on the roof and they laugh with me and at me most days.
As I write this, I'm wearing earplugs because the piano practicing is just not jiving with my writing mojo. I've got one kid late to baseball practice, one who needs a butt wipe, two fighting over whether nerf guns can actually kill someone (bets have been taken), and an oldest with three Powerpoint presentations due this week. The last one also needs to go to the store for "fishnet tights" for her ballroom dance routine. I'm swallowing the fact that I will be purchasing my daughter her first pair of fishnets. So proud and winning up in here.
So like all mommas, I compartmentalize, prioritize and walk outside. Don't worry, I wiped the bum on my way out. The fresh spring air of Oregon has a scent. To me it smells like hope and new beginnings. Apparently, my oldest feels the same way because I looked up and where did I see her? Up on the roof. Again.
This time she was playing guitar to the sunset.
"I didn't hear Harry take my name in vain. Why you out here now?"
Undeterred by my line of parental questioning, she kept right on playing.
"I thought you were doing your homework. You still need to test out of World Civ."
"This seems like a better idea."
Amen, sister. A-freaking-men.
My reaction database ques up: get angry, laugh, or ask her to slide over and make room. Turns out roofs are great places to discuss hard things. Writing can wait, and homework, and life. Then it hits me. THIS is why I became a mom. My little humans help me remember all the important things. They make me the best version of myself and test the rotten parts of me until those parts succumb to humillity, finding a different way and hopefully extinction if I'm lucky. I like to think that Tevye would be proud of my daily dance of imperfection.
I love being a mom, every messy, imperfect, demanding moment. Think twice before using that name in vain. And if you need me, I'll be on the roof with my kids. Probably discussing curfews because this time she snuck out without me even knowing. There's hope. She can be taught.