Forget the sappy mothering slogans. That’s the epidural talking. The real parenting motto, as any mom will tell you, is Do Not Disturb.
That doesn’t mean hoping the kids Do Not Disturb their mother while she is sleeping/on the phone with an intensely annoying customer service rep from the wireless company/trying to write an article which is just not coming/focusing on a billion other things. Dreams of this are also the epidural talking.
I’m talking about not disturbing your kids.
Most moms start out in high hopes of mutual Lack of Disturbance. But after being home from the hospital for a week most moms are disabused of that notion (and consequently also very tired).
But it makes them appreciate the other side of the coin: Do Not Disturb Your Children. EVER.
If you have kids, you know the drill. Once those tiny lashes fold over those tiny eyes, you scoot. On tiptoe. And then you proceed to convert the noise level of the house to that of a nuclear wasteland. Except quieter.
And if this completely flies in the face of What to Expect When You Have a Baby: Expect the Unexpected and Learn to Love It Or Die Trying, what of it? No grinning writer on the back jacket is going to persuade me, in all my sleep-deprived glory, that turning on a vacuum during the only 45 minutes in the entire day that my 3-month-old might actually sleep is a good idea.
The living room floor can go to heck. I will go and read a book. Or take a nap. Or do something quiet . . . like strangle the next door-to-door salesperson who rings the disgustingly loud doorbell despite a clear sign telling them a kid’s sleeping inside.
Then the kids get older, and you’re sitting working at your laptop in the office and the door is closed and they have been quietly reading or doing puzzles or playing some benign activity for quite some time. You suddenly realize that you forgot lunch, but you can’t fathom getting up and creating rustling that will remind them that they’re hungry/want a drink of water/desperately need you to help them write a letter to Santa. In September.
While writing this post, I was suffering from intense thirst in 90-degree temperatures, coinciding with a massive headache. Also the dryer, which doesn’t shut off on its own, was probably on the verge of turning the Maiden’s dresses into crackling clothes chips. I was craving a Tylenol. And maybe some caffeine . . .
But I didn’t budge.
Because the Maiden was Being Quiet, and I’ve been conditioned to guard that minimal period in the day with the ferocity of–well, it’s really hard to compare the feeling with anything else, because there’s nothing so precious to an overworked, overtired mom than Peace and Quiet for the Next Thirty Seconds.
However, invariably you must put aside your notions of letting sleeping, or otherwise quiet, children lie. Extended periods of silence can usually mean only one thing: they have caught on to the notion that Mommy isn’t going to stop them from doing what they want, and they smear your brand new lipstick all over their face and hands and, naturally, the quilt on your bed, because where else should you wipe smudges? Fortunately you catch them before they hit up the “masfara.”
At the very least you’ll end up with a sculpture made up of your bedknob, the Maiden’s sunglasses, two pairs of your panties, and the mauve pashmina scarf, which is definitely not kid-resistant material. While the Maiden bounces on your bed in the glee of undiscoveredness, creating a lively and heart attack-inducing variety show that she can advantageously watch in the mirror across the room. Oh, and changes her name to Lizzie, but you can just call me Liz, Mommy.
Which is what happened while I wrote this post.