As a mom of six, I wear lots of hats. One is mom, but I’m also a kids fiction author, an essay and poetry writer, an editor and a ghostwriter. But it’s my mother hat that seems to come with a whole slew of secondary hats. Here are just a few of them:
Two days a week I pack all the lunches (Husband takes the other three days, according to our well-oiled schedule), because no matter how passionately I encourage my sons to do it on their own, they are so completely inefficient at knowing what to pack—despite being the ones who actually eat the lunch—that they are annoyingly wasteful. Is it really necessary to pack an entire container of almonds when you’ll only have time to eat a handful?
I have nagged my sons (and Husband) incessantly for years about turning off the lights when they leave a room, but every time I emerge from my home office for some water, guess what’s blazing. The lights. I will dutifully (but not uncomplainingly) turn them off, get myself a drink, and go back to my office only to see them blazing again. My sons claim it’s not them. They must be right; we live with a ghost.
It doesn’t matter if Husband is the parent on duty, my little ones will come to me for nose wiping—with the smallest sheet of toilet paper or tissue they can find. Sometimes they’ll come without a tissue—they don’t want nose wiping, just a soggy hug, and I will have the grand privilege of wearing their snot for the rest of the day. It’s a great accessory and goes with everything. Nothing shouts “mother” like Snot Shoulder.
This hat doesn’t stay in fashion long enough, in my opinion; they age out of it quickly. And once I’ve retired it, I miss it—at least until one of my sons wanders in with a hurt on the bottom of his foot that doesn’t have a shoe but does have a large cake of dirt—or is that dog poop?—on the underside. And then I have to grit my teeth and kiss the underside of that foot, because my kisses are magical, and one day they won’t be.
I have to remind my sons often to stop smacking their lips while they eat; to not to talk while someone else is talking; to clean up after themselves; to use please and thank you; to say, at the very least, “Excuse me” when an earth-quaking burp disrupts the table. They think these reminders are lame. They don’t know they’ll thank me later, when they’re interested in finding a life partner and they discover other people aren’t all that attracted to heathen habits.
My sons are constantly on the prowl, and I am constantly on the move, trying to keep them out of all the things they could possibly use to endanger themselves. I remind them that people don’t tear up things with their teeth, don’t generally jump on couches, and don’t willingly destroy everything in their path. And they remind me that I’m living with a collection of wild and rowdy boys, and sometimes it’s okay to let things go.
These are just a few of my hats. My résumé gets longer every day. And with all these hats I sometimes get confused and put on the Sentimental Mother when I should be wearing the Serious Mother and I accidentally tell my son I love him in front of his ten-year-old friends.
Will he thank me for that later?
This article was originally published online in May 2019.