“Did you have a good summer?” clusters of moms in the high school lobby ask each other, then simultaneously give the required pat answer, “Yes, but it went by too fast… I wish I had two more weeks with the kids.” We wave good-bye to our children, then head to our minivans, presumably ready for a full and productive day.
But once the minivan door closes, reality hits like a school bus.
“I’m free,” I mutter to myself, my eyes wide and unblinking, my caffeine-affected fingers trembling against the steering wheel. “Finally … free.” In the time it takes for me to round the circle and exit the school property, I’ve thought of a million things I could do with my day now that there are no witnesses.
Even though my older children didn’t need much supervision over the summer, I find the feeling of being completely alone — unfettered by parental responsibilities, social mores, ethical codes and rules of human decency — quite liberating.
Feeling a pang of hunger, I realize that there is no one to stop me from opening the neglected bag of cheese curls in the center console and pouring them directly into my upturned mouth. I turn the radio from the pop music station my girls insist on to my favorite – the 80s channel – and bellow “Karma Chameleon” as I turn onto Memorial Boulevard. At one stop light, I floss my teeth, and at the next, I pluck my eyebrows. As I approach the Navy base gate guard, I flip off the radio and wipe my cheese stained mouth on my sleeve.
Leave no witnesses.
At home, I spend a good 20 minutes on the floor snuggling with our dog, Moby, before planning my day. There’s no one home to hear me talking to Moby out loud or to see him licking my face. There is no one there to balk, demand my attention, or roll their eyes. There is no one to embarrass, shame or disgust.
It’s just me, for once, and it’s wonderful.
Sure, we moms feel a pang of guilt at deceiving our children in this way. Here they are, off at school, thinking that boring old Mom is home jotting down new sandwich ideas, organizing their homework spaces, and thinking nothing but nurturing thoughts. When in reality, we are leading a double life.
With the freedom that the school year affords, we moms can mop our kitchen floors while singing the entire Sound of Music soundtrack, complete with “Lonely Goatherd” yodeling and “Climb Every Mountain” contralto vibrato. We can fold laundry while binge-watching DVRed episodes of Fixer Upper. We can meet our work friends out for long lunches, or stay home and eat logs of cookie dough all alone. We can join base bowling leagues, or teach ourselves the Ukulele from YouTube videos. We can take a yoga classes, or just wear the pants all day.
Whatever we moms decide to do with our time, it’s our little secret, and our kids would be wise to keep up our little charade.
For example, there is no sense in suggesting that the chicken drumstick and mashed potatoes on your plate was cooked by the Colonel. We may have run out of time between pottery class and that sale at the outlet mall, so just say, “This dinner is delicious, Mom!” and be thankful that we had time to run through the drive-thru. Also, don’t complain if Mom shows up late for practice pick ups. You have no idea how hard it is to attend a friend’s jewelry party and “like” all the funny cat videos on Facebook in one afternoon. Lastly, don’t comment on new hair styles, funky jewelry, or sudden tattoos. Mom may be finding herself, or recovering from a girls night out — either way, it’s her business.
Moms spend most of their adult lives revolving around their kids, so they deserve some time to do what they want.
So, shhhhh … mum’s the word.