“I’m Just Saying” is a column by Suburbs 101 Contributor, Alexis Gold. A funny and brutally honest take on what life is like for a working mom in New York City/turned unexpected stay at home suburban mom. Alexis reflects on the small moments in her “new normal”.
I see a Swoosh fly across the kitchen island, and I wonder for the zillionth time why I ever decided to let children enter my world. Some days, it takes me longer to remember than others. Most days, I hope I remember at all. Maybe that sounds harsh but parenting during a pandemic was not something I signed up for, and it appears there’s no doctor’s note or brain scraping test to relieve me of my fate. The tedium of the day to day has probably just gotten to me. With a sigh, I toss the aerodynamic footwear aside and offer to help my daughter with her hair. Otherwise, we have no prayer of getting to school on time.
No one would know this because of the daily bun that sits atop her head, but her hair is very long, very blonde and very fluffy. The opposite of my own limp, straight reddish hair. Mine is also rarely washed in this new world order and nearly always in a messy ponytail. The only accessory in my life these days is the ubiquitous hair band. They turn up everywhere – my neighbor told me she even found two at the bottom of her Yeti tumbler, and may or may not have fished them out with a spoon. I assume they were from her own daughter’s, but it’s possible they were from mine.
My girls leave them all over, like a trail of Hansel & Gretel breadcrumbs – maybe they think they can hairband my century old house together to keep it from falling down. My husband seems to have a similar plan for his socks. The only good thing about the pandemic work from home, is he has mostly traded his trouser socks for slippers. I can’t say the same for my daughters though. They think the hair loops should magically find their way back to their rightful home. Apparently, on top of my questionable parenting skills, there’s also a question about my housekeeping skills.
She wears her hair in what is meant to be a perfect, ballet bun every day. And, what I lack in parenting and housekeeping skills, I also lack in the hairdressing department. She’s actually a pretty independent second grader, but just can’t do the bun. Neither can I. I don’t know how she became so fixated on the precision of her up-do, but I blame it on quarantine and TikTok. It needs to be very high and centered; tight but not too tight; and not have any bumps on the side. (I feel like there’s an inappropriate joke here that I’m too tired to find). The bun is the bane of my morning existence, especially as we go about the rushed routine.
I attempt to coax her extremely over-conditioned hair, into a tuft on top of her head. It never goes as planned, as I drop white silk everywhere and have to start over. This is usually happening as I am also trying to make breakfast, lunch, sign reading logs and math tests, complete Covid-19 forms, and rush to the attic for appropriate outwear given the 30-degree temperature swings in a northeast November. We go through this every day, so you think I’d be better at it. But, it usually ends with me yelling one of three things that make me realize I’ve become my mother:
1. “No, your head doesn’t look like a square!”
2. “I’m not a hairdresser!” or my favorite
3. “If you don’t like the way I do it, do it yourself!”
You need to realize these don’t come out the way they are taught in my positive reinforcement parenting class. It’s more of a Cruella de Shrille approach. This ritual seems like a metaphor for my general approach to raising children. Deflecting. Giving up. Delegating.
But, I’ve sort of come to appreciate our morning dynamic. There is something familiar in the dialogue, and in the insanity of my thinking I’ll ever be able to do it right. I think it’s because we are craving normalcy. Not a new normal, and not the old one. Just those small, nothing moments, that make us crazy, bring us, joy, irritation, happiness. Something to plan, something to be enjoyed or annoyed by — the daily occurrences that have always been the summation of a day, but in a world long forgotten. Now we wonder if it’s time to stock up on Charmin all over again.
These things that seem irrelevant with Covid-19 cases reaching new highs and a nail biter election, are keeping me oddly sane even when my patience hangs in the balance. A dear friend was notified that she had made it off the milk delivery waitlist she’d been on for six months. She may as well have told me she was getting married. It’s not that I care that much about her dairy on demand. It just feels good to have the distraction of the everyday. The fall major network premieres bringing me Meredith Grey, the new specialty grocery store opening 3.1 miles from my house, my daughter’s Har-Tru covered sneakers in the front hallway constantly tracking green dust on my snowy white rugs, and the pumpkin guts on my front steps from Squirrel Gate 2020, the hairbands. These ordinary moments are helping to deal with all the giant shitty ones this year. The pressure of sitting around waiting for a vaccine is just too much some days.
I do eventually get her hair into some sort of respectable coiffure. She of course, thinks it looks like bedhead, rather than a bunhead, but I at least feel like our reverse pecking order remains intact. She skips off to school after a battle to find matching shoes and socks, and reminds me I am the best mom and that she loves me. And, I guess that’s when I remember. Why I did this. Have these people in the first place. To remind me, that in heaviness of our current reality, the small things are the bigger, better, most important things. They are probably always meant to be, but it’s hard to be that zen. My friend’s approach is week to week, Thursday drinks to the next, and mine is bun to bun. Though, did I fail to mention the whole terrible bun routine I’ve convinced myself is one of those small moments to appreciate, repeats itself in the afternoon for gymnastics?
About Alexis Gold
Alexis Gold holds a BS from Cornell University. She spent more than two decades on Wall Street, where she was a top ranked analyst by Institutional Investor. While on the buy side her creative writing was used to analyze companies, primarily in the retail space. Following the recent closing of her last fund, she decided to stay at home with her three small children. Her writing has been featured in Read650 and offers a funny and brutally honest take on what life is like for a working mom in NYC/turned unexpected stay at home suburban mom.
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