I wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. I come back. There’s a giant dog where I should be. I haven’t left for long–I don’t need more than thirty seconds to pee. The dog was lying in wait.
“That’ll teach her to run low on dog treats,” the dog mumbles. She doesn’t budge. I squeeze into the bed I bought in the house I pay for. The dog grumbles and edges a little more where I’m trying to go. She won’t compromise. She’s taken over.
Moms don’t get rest. I can’t catch a break.
“Mom, can you get me a q-tip?”
Declan and I are sitting on the couch watching a talent show. He’s up past his bedtime sneaking in a Mommy-Declan treat, a fact his teacher will appreciate tomorrow. My tea is on the table. My tea is a “Do Not Disturb” sign, an indication I’m done serving people for the day.
“No.” I pointed to the tea. “I’m relaxing. I told you. You get it.” He whines. My tea cools just a little bit–a timer telling me I will never truly relax until it’s cold. It’s physics mocking motherhood.
He whines some more. I say no one more time. It’s now a cost-benefit analysis–a mom math problem. Which option will get me to sitting sooner? Saying no or giving in? I run the numbers. The tea cools just a little bit more.
“But you’re the mom. You have to get it. Your job is to serve me.” He’s serious. I’m tired.
“No, it is not my job to serve you. My job is to raise you long enough so you can do all the chores.” I get the q-tip but he can’t think he’s won. A life of eternal chores is far worse than him being the center of the universe. His face registers horror. “You’ll be ready for all the chores by the time you’re eight. We’re almost there. Enjoy your q-tip.”
I sit back down, somewhat on edge, waiting for the next interruption. There’s always a next interruption.
“Mom, can you find this?” “Hey, do you know where my (insert thing here) is?” “Mom, the dog barfed.” “Can you…” Despite the fact my gender and station reflect otherwise, I do not have magical powers or an inventory scanner of every item in the house. I cannot say, “Yes, of course,” honing in on the sock, ingredient, soccer uniform, or toy. I get up and look just like the rest of the world. Then I sit down to cold dinner or tea.
Being a mom ought to be a union job. I want a contract that discusses hours worked, comp time, overtime pay, and vacation benefits. I want the job description clearly delineated. I want it to provide for drinking warm beverages while they’re still warm and eating dinner fresh out of the oven instead of dried out and old.
Finally, I want my early mornings off-limits to little intruders. I write from 4-6AM. It’s the time where there’s peace in the universe, not Legos and Minecraft in my face. It’s my sacred time, before I’m required to punch the clock and start my day in two realms. If I must perform so much as one duty at this time, I want double time.
These are my demands. Teachers have contracts, moms need demands. Unite, sisters! We want more than the vote and equal pay. We want to sit down undisturbed at least once a day.
It’s 3AM. Somehow the little creature’s popped into my bed again. Tonight he’s letting me sleep. No kicking, laughing, or talking to the people in his dreams.
Then, he pokes me. “Mom!”
I jump. “What?!”
He touches my arm and gives me a kiss on the cheek. “Cuddle me.”
I squiggle into the space he’s stolen as he wraps me in his little arms. I give him a kiss good night and cuddle him “the right way.” I can feel his heart beating, then after a moment his little body relax. He has fallen back into the space of little boy dreams.
I forget about my mom demands. I smile. I return to the space where moms very rarely get to go. A place of undisturbed rest.
[Photo Credit: Woman’s suffrage march, New Hampshire Labor News]