Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Part-Time Mom

People often comment on my ability to get out so much. The reality of being a fabulous, urban mum is not always so glam.

On Friday morning, Nate said his first coherent two-word sentence. "Buh-bye Mammee," shaking his adorable little hand in his version of a wave. He was heading off to daycare with Daddy and, for the first time, didn't seem the least bit bothered. That evening, as Nate pulled away in Grandma's car, pumping his little adorable fist "buh-bye", I sat on the porch and cried. "Why are you sad?" the Dog asked. "He was totally happy just now."

"That's it exactly," I chortled. The Dog shook his head in that, "I don't get you" way. "I just, I just miss him, that's all." But did I miss him enough to miss my friends' fab Liberty Village roof-top patio get-together?

The next morning, I was paying pennance for the sins of the night before by doing laundry. Every shred of laundry that the cat may or may not have touched with her flea-ridden body -- and then some. My MIL called to say she was with Nate up the street at a fundraiser for my neice-in-law's school. "Oh he's having a great time! They have these roller coasters for preschoolers that he's loving. Too bad none of us has a camera." She asked when I was coming to join them. "Uh, I'm up to my eyeballs in laundry here. Why don't you just bring him here when you're done?" I got off the phone and told the Dog. "Forget the laundry," he suggested. "But if I don't do it now, when will I have the chance? When will it get done? Who's going to do it?" I demanded desperately. "Fuck the laundry!" he insisted. He can be relentless. He agreed that he would go into work late so that he didn't miss it either. We grabbed the camera and raced over. The look on Nate's face when he saw me? "Hmph. Nice of you to finally show up."

When we got home later, I sat on the floor with Nate while I called a grade school friend, who was having his 30th b-day celebrations that night. "I'll have to take it easy tonight," I told him. "I didn't get home until 4 am last night," I added somewhat boastingly. I caught myself and thought, "Why is it so important to me to try to act like I'm not changed by being a mom?" Then my inexperienced-in-the-land-of-parenting friend dropped an innocent bomb.

"Oh yeah, that's right. You said in your email that you're doing the part-time mom thing right?"

WHAT!?!? What "part-time mom thing"? Is there such a "thing"? Did I say that? I log onto my email just to check. Nope. Didn't say that. Phew! But did say I was trying to find balance between my old self and my mom self. It's like I view them as two different people.

There's Nadine, who wears shoes bought on Bloor St., drinks martinis at trendy places with fake-sounding names like Sintra and Kubo, and knows everything about pop culture. Have you met her? She's fab at a party (especially if there is free food). She'll have all your guests laughing. She is sexy, casually flipping her perfectly ironed hair, inviting lust with the bat of a Lancome Hypnosed eyelash. Nadine is your typical Carrie Bradshaw wannabe. Minus the Vogue freelancing gig and the book deal that helped to pay for that collection of Manolos.

Then there's Mama Nad. Mama Nad loves her son more than life. So much so that it scares her sometimes. Sometimes she feels herself being sucked into the vacuum of motherhood. Somedays she wants to fall into the void. The void appeals in its comfortable, effortless undercurrent. The void smells like the fuzz on top of Nate's head and fresh baked cookies and Pine Sol. "Come," the void says, "We won't judge you for your spit-up-streaked sweats and soggy ponytails. You can just be. You're tired of trying, you need a rest. Join us." But Mama Nad is afraid of the void. Afraid of what it means, afraid of who she'll become if she answers its call. Afraid of letting go. She clings on to Nadine, trying desperately to salvage bits of who she once was. But why?

It's a losing battle. And it's hard to say who is losing more, the boy or his mother.

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