Thursday, February 21, 2013

February, the Final Frontier

This is how it all went down…I had just given birth and because my son was 11 pounds, I delivered my dignity along with him leaving me disabled for weeks, unless heavily medicated. It was a preschool morning and I somehow managed to get dressed, as well as the kids, and then made my sore ass and their cute butts down the stairs, out the door, and into the car. We even made it there on time. It was amazing.
Unfortunately, there, after all this effort, instead of a cheer squad ready set to celebrate my achievement with high-fives, was the parent sign-up sheet for the Halloween party that was scheduled for the following week. This is not the stuff that dreams are made of. I fail miserably as a cute mom. The very mention of Pinterest gives me anxiety and, on occasion, makes me hostile (you have been warned). I began to sweat, but fortunately was quickly pulled from my place of fear by my unreasonably competitive spirit (thanks,mom). Damned if I'm gonna opt out like some flake, my inner monologue asserted,and I approached the sheet, handwritten in perfect preschool printing, with my head held high.I scanned the options (cupcakes, cookies and other things that require skill) and then relieved, my eyes zeroed in on the cheese and cracker platter. It was a cop-out, but it was a deal. We always have cheese, we have a pantry full of crackers and I felt that regardless of my current state (i.e. inability to perform basic bodily functions) I should at least be able to manage that. No one will even think less of me, I thought, considering it was pretty obvious I had bigger issues to contend with (as evidenced by full brief adult diapers visible above the waist of my sweatpants).

As it turns out, I managed to forget that I had committed myself to the easiest contribution and on the day-of I noticed on the calendar that I had scribbled: "Be cute for preschool," in what looked like a menacing, drunken script. With minutes to spare I mad-frantic hacked up some cheddar and threw it in, of all things, a Ziplock bag, complete with a paper plate (admittedly, weak choices) and a bag of Stone Wheat Thins. Not quite what I had envisioned providing for the merriment of my son's first preschool celebration, but I assumed it would be good enough. Needless to say, whilst funneling into the classroom I couldn't help, but observe the amazing spread of wholesome and delectable treats making there way in, held proudly above the makers shoulders as they unzipped the coats of their children with one hand. I cringed, my entire body shrunk, when I saw the other mother's cheese platter complete with a variety of fromage choices cut out in seasonal shapes and figures (we're talking about pumpkins and acorns here people) with a wide selection of cracker pairings attractively displayed on a carved wooden serving dish.

Head down, I slinked to the food table, infant car seat bumping along my shin as I shuffled my pathetic remains forward. I casually placed my offering on the table providing no eye contact and no conversation, so not to draw attention to myself and in hope of it all going unnoticed. I left embarrassed and upon return home, I debriefed with my father, who had arrived for his shift as assigned support person, present to intervene should I fatigue, hemorrhage, or melt down to the point of being unable to parent. Another mother failure, I reported. Sucked it up hard at today's cute mom attempt, I confessed. Patiently, he heard my ridiculousness and shallow musings about the mom race.

Fortunately, by pick up time, I had snapped out of it. Eff it, I had decided. In the classroom I confidently collected my child and scanned the food table to see if any leftovers required gathering. There it was… my 'effort', untouched. Even the children knew it was a flop. I shrugged it off and then marched over, scooped it up, and made our way to the car. My father having accompanied me for the ride was still in the car with baby. He wisely remained silent as I wrestled my sugar-high boy into his car seat and then collapsed into the driver's side with a whine- rejected snack in lap.
A few minutes later he broke the silence. "So..." he began, tentatively, "It all came back."

Just then before I could reply, the big boy asked for a snack. "Well, looky here son," I replied, "I happen to have some crackers and cheese ready, just for you." My dad and I, delirious, laughed the ride home.And then: Valentine's Day. You'd think that months later I would be healed from the ego wounds I suffered so many months ago. Well perhaps I have. This said, the depths of my vanity are profound and I have been waiting for months to redeem myself. And now that I am content, can walk with some grace, and generally function like a regular woman, I did. I participated in some role-play and put on the ol' apron. I read and re-read the recipe. I measured, mixed, and swore. I created havoc, and cookies. I dressed myself nicely, walked my son in proudly, and placed the platter down whilst engaging as many people as possible. I returned, sure that my treats would have been well appreciated. And they were.

P.S. I realized that my cookies looked like Pinterest cookies after they made friends with the blender. Whatever. The point is I baked something, all by myself, the end product resembled a Valentine's cookie, and they were full of sugar. The good moms might scorn me behind my back for not making something with whole grains or a super food, but the kids apparently liked them and I got a story out of it. Frankly, this adventure turned out better than the last vanity fuelled activity I shamefully participated in. i.e. forcing my engagement and wedding band on my sausage of a ring finger trying to prove to myself that I had lost enough baby weight to get away with it. In the end, my finger went numb, purple, and swelled up until it looked like an angry penis. The rings had to be cut off. No word of a lie.

Heather is a married mother of two and an allied health professional living in the greater Vancouver area. She is the author of and writes because words make her happy.

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