I hear that phrase throughout the day, invariably bellowed from some other room in the house while I’m trying to cook, clean, answer emails, put away groceries, fold laundry, take a shower, write my column, or watch a DVRed episode of The Bachelorette while savoring an afternoon cup of microwaved coffee.
Summertime exacerbates this annoying phenomenon, because I can’t drop my kids off at school to get them out of my hair for a few cotton-picking minutes. Ironically, the teens, while claiming complete autonomy, seem particularly dependent on me to wake them, feed them, entertain them, stop them from frying their brains in front of the television, and remind them to shower.
There’s no doubt about it: my husband works very hard to support our family. However, he tends to add to my burden at home by being endlessly hungry, inordinately hairy, and pretty much clueless when it comes to using the remote.
To make matters a tad [read: a gazillion times] worse, we just moved from Florida to Rhode Island a few weeks ago. It is our ninth military move, so you’d think we’d have it down pat by now.
However, here it is, nearly six weeks after the movers dropped off all of our worldly possessions, and we’re still eating off of paper plates because no one has volunteered to unpack the dish box. We’re drying ourselves with washcloths because no one has found the towels. We’ve even resorted to writing down Googled information on something called a piece of paper, with something called a pencil, because no one’s hooked up the printer yet.
Sure, it will all get sorted out, assembled, installed, and put away. It always does. But it will take many weeks longer than I thought it would, because everyone relies on me to figure it all out.
You see, my family lives under the false premise that I am the manager, the foreman, the safety net, the principal engineer, the scullery maid, and the Grand Pubah of all things tedious, arduous and annoying. Despite the considerable responsibility of my multi-faceted position; there are no benefits of which to speak, unless “being needed” can be perceived as advantageous.
If you ask me, it’s highly overrated.
But I cannot protest too much, because this unfortunate set of circumstances is my own doing. Back when the kids were mere munchkins and my husband’s hairline had not begun to recede, I reveled in my Supermom status. I was younger, stronger, more energetic, less forgetful, and significantly less dependent on caffeine to keep me awake during the day. I considered mothering an exciting challenge to conquer, and I did so with fierce determination.
I planned and cooked balance meals, I whipped up Halloween costumes from felt and pipe cleaners, I landscaped the yard with a baby wrapped around my midsection, I orchestrated elaborate birthday parties with goodie bags that would rival infamously indulgent Oscar party swag, I taught myself how to install ceiling fans and sink faucets, I jig sawed my son’s Soap Box Derby car, I endured long deployments without so much as a whiff of antidepressants.
I did it all. But little did I know, my family would come to expect it.
Fast-forward a decade or two, and suddenly, I’m to motherhood what Peyton Manning is to football. What Vicki Gunvalson is to The Real Housewives. What Courtney Love is to the band Hole. What Carrot Top is to comedy. What James Carville and Mary Matalin are to political commentary. Our minions have come to depend on us to carry the team/show/industry/debate, but we’re all getting too tired/injured/pathetic/strung out/disfigured by plastic surgery to do it all.
So, to all you younger stay-at-home moms, let this rant serve as a warning: Dispense with any fantasies of becoming a Supermom now, or later, your family may decide that you’ve become indispensable.