“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.
I finally drag myself to the Peloton. It’s part of a typically short-lived phase I attempt every six months or so. I feel someone’s eye on me. My nine-year old son is next to me. I pretend not to see him, but hear, “Mom, I just threw up.”
There is an evolution to parenting. I remember being in Viand Diner, an Upper West Side staple when my oldest daughter was a newborn. It was my second favorite to the Manhattan Diner, long since replaced by condos and Pure Yoga. A family was leaving as my husband and I waited to be seated. I overheard the mom say to her child — who was not following behind at Manhattan warp speed — “Keep moving or I’ll break your legs.” She is lucky I only had a 2G Blackberry or I would have had social services greet her with handcuffs at 74th and Broadway.
To Viand Diner Mom, wherever you are, I apologize for my smugness. I apologize for being horrified you could speak to your child like one of my old traders would speak to summer interns. I respect and appreciate your mom stage. I can’t decide if we should call it Survival or Triage.
So, when my son tells me he threw up, I quickly determine there are three likely scenarios in mom-brain suburban warp speed:
1. He has a stomach virus and I need to be socially distanced from him before the twelve second half-life is over and it rips through my household.
2. He has a migraine and should go back to bed.
3. He is totally fine and doesn’t want to go to school.
No matter which option I choose, the outcome is the same — the puke part is over. Hopefully, it’s in the toilet. Or, at least in a trash can. I hear Cody channeling his inner Britney. I take a page from Viand Diner Mom’s book and say, “Can you give me eight minutes to finish? If you’re sick this is the only thing I’ll do all day.”
I don’t imagine that last part. I actually say it. Out loud. At least I don’t threaten to break body parts. Eight minutes later, though, I wonder when this shift occurred.
It doesn’t happen overnight. It eats away at you little by little — like an old school Willy Wonka Gobstopper – slowly sucking away until you get to that sour center. Every drive to school, gym drive, lunch made, snack packed, every dog doody found on your daughter’s rug when the dog is not even supposed to go upstairs. Every 6:30am early morning sour-centered barf leading to a day home from school.
There have been exactly four days since September that all three of my kids have been in school, at the same time, for an entire day. You can all choose your own similar adventure, but here’s a partial explanation for my husband:
- Conference half-days that should have been trashed with the discovery of Zoom
- Superintendent’s days
- Sports: Hockey tournaments with Thursday departures; gymnastics meets; concussions; early practices
- Doctors’ appointments: Non-sick appointments, orthopedist for aforementioned sports and related injuries, ENT, allergist
- Illness: COVID isolations, mono (my daughter seriously got mono like it’s 1984), stomach viruses
- Weather: Snow days and late starts for non-existent weather
This is a very partial list of the items that lead to this not so positive mom-volution. The actual list would equal an entire pallet of Gobstobbers.
In an effort to rediscover my pre-Viand Diner Mom, I agree to host my daughter’s book club. It’s also required. I picked the date months ago after poring over a brightly colored Cozi calendar. Luckily for the girls, several of them can’t make it. I end up with six sweet girls sitting around my kitchen island. I dig deep to find my lost, but somewhere-in-there Fun Playdate Mom. Two of the girls have birthdays. I decide to make a cake for the girls to decorate. This seems like something I would have done in a prior life.
I immediately call my own way-better-than-I am mom. She says it will be delicious. Let them put some icing on it. This is the worst advice she has ever given me. In her defense, she doesn’t know better. My 9 year-old GenX self would have been fine with broken chunky cake and gloppy icing. This post-GenZ crew has only seen the TikTok time lapse video of this cake where this mess turns into a gorgeous cake with rainbows and flowers and M&M waterfalls. Plus, I am afraid the kids will tell their parents. Even if I am no longer Patient Playdate mom, I would prefer everyone think I am.
A very Good Friend happens to call at this moment. I pick up the phone. All I can hear is the other Brittany (RIP) saying to Cher, “You’re a virgin, that can’t drive.” Only it’s been updated to, “You’re a suburban mom, that can’t bake.” Oh, how I wish the movie line was true in this moment, except that I really am a great driver.
She doesn’t actually say this. Good Friend tells me she will run to the grocery store and buy me cake mix. I let her. She drops it off with words of advice – that I (not she) should always just use a mix. I don’t tell her I did. And that the first attempt was really my second.
In the end, I actually manage to make some pretty decent icing. Thanks, Mom and World Wide Web, there is still some hope for me. I think the girls even have fun. Though I definitely feel like I’m in triage mode the whole time. Maybe the evolution isn’t really our fault. Maybe it’s just nature — and not nurture at all. Maybe we are all putting too much pressure on ourselves and should let the kids run wild and feed them Oreos instead of semi-homemade cake. I wouldn’t be a perfect mom, but I wouldn’t be yelling about icing on the floor and ceiling and would be pre-Viand Diner mom a lot more. I’ll try it. Sorry, not sorry, for sending your kids home full of sugar either way.
Oh, I forgot about my son in all this? That’s because true to this essay, I am mostly leg-breaking Viand Diner Mom that forgets about my kids these days. It seems like it’s a combination of options 2 and 3 — sort of a headache, mostly doesn’t want to go to school. By 10:45am he’s asking if he can play Fortnite. In my current mom stage, I let my third grader play Fortnite. It’s another half day. I can’t drop him back at school anymore. I decide to play old school mom. We play Crazy 8’s and have gloppy cake for lunch. Though, if I am going to sit around eating cake the Peloton phase needs to be long-lived. It also turns out cake is not the best idea for even a sort of upset stomach. And, so the cycle continues…