mom: drink your milk.
dewey: it‘s lumpy.
mom: then chew it.
~malcolm in the middle
the other day an acquaintance of mine told me that she takes great pride in the fact that she's fooled her entire family into thinking she can cook. she uses boxed and frozen foods exclusively, but her family thinks everything is made from scratch. when i told her, "but, you do cook. that's cooking." she was floored and a little depressed. she thought she'd been getting away with something.
but then it was i who became a little depressed. i began to think, i rarely even box-cook for my family. everything we eat is drive-thru, carry-out or delivery. of course, it doesn't help that when my children see me whip out an apron, they groan and say, "you're not cooking again are you, mom?" okay, i'm using poetic license -- i don't even own an apron. but the smocklins do moan and they do emphasize the word "cooking" as if they're doing me a great favor using the word so loosely whenever i start hunting for cooking equipment. where's that flat black thingy with a handle again? the thing for the top of the oven ... er, thing with the red circles, what’s that thing? the stove!
i once admitted to another mom that i’d stapled the hem of my daughter’s skirt as she was running to the car -- late again -- for school. the woman didn’t even blink. she winked. masking tape works wonders, too. the first time our principal sent home a note about excessive tardies -- back when I still thought that all good catholic moms had to be true smock moms -- i was mortified. last year it got so bad the principal sent us a letter informing us that he was going to charge us $5 per tardy slip. i emailed him and asked if that fee was “per family” or “per child” -- he never responded.
i found out that there is a “label” for moms like me: beta mom. the “beta” doesn’t mean we’re being tested, although i think many of us would say we are … daily. and, to the max. rather than being a term that attempts to define what we are, it defines what we certainly are not, which is an “alpha” mom. some ladies took great exception when the word was first introduced, but i sorta liked finally having a label. it gave me a sense of camaraderie. oh, i’m not the only sucky mom on the block. cool.
some of you may be asking yourselves, is this posting a boast or a plea for help? it’s neither really. i just think that if more beta moms spoke up the others wouldn’t feel like they had to beat the crap outta themselves daily. and they wouldn’t feel the need to pretend. trust me, i know more than my share of beta moms who pretend -- badly -- to be alpha moms. they just can’t seem to pull it off and, really, it demeans us all. when you tell me, rather proudly, that you spent an entire morning building a chicken coop all i can think is ... well, why? i don't want to be ugly. i just don't understand it. and i know there are great alpha moms out there thinking, you poor woman. but really, more than once i’ve had to bite my tongue with fellow beta-wanna-be-alphas. i want to say, just go with the flow, honey. i brought the same "homemade-tasting" cookies from the same super target. and that macramé with the “made in china” sticker you missed isn’t fooling anybody.
don't get me wrong. i greatly admire truly domestic women. and, i’ve tried to be more domestic myself. truly i have. i’m just not good at it and i’m beginning to think that at the age of 36 and with 6 wee ones afoot, not much will change any time soon. i think it was albert einstein who once said “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” that pretty much sums it up for the smock.