Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Mother's Promise

This is a little embarrassing, but I am just a wee bit nervous to be an SAHM for the next six weeks. Okay, a lot nervous. I usually work part-time as a dance teacher 4 days per week. Those 9 hours per week teaching in a college dance program guarantee me some personal time, some social time and some creative time. But starting today, and for the next 6 weeks, until school begins in the fall, I am pretty much IT. My mom, who lives nearby, will pitch in when she can, but she just took care of the kids during my summer session. Every day she’d leave the house with her hair standing on end. She clearly needs a break.

While I am excited and lucky to spend so much time with the kids, I'm overwhelmed by the enormity of keeping everyone safe and sane, let alone learning something. Whew! That’s a lot of responsibility – enough to make me throw myself upon the altar of Motherhood, beat my breast, and sob, “I’m not worthy!”

So, in the spirit of A Prayer for My Daughter in the book Bossypants, (which if you haven’t read you must read right now!) by one of the smartest, most witty women alive today, Tina Fey, I have written a little something for myself as a mother.

I, _________________, do solemnly swear to fulfill to the best of my sleep-depraved (yes, depraved) ability this covenant between me and my child(ren) 24/7, 365 days a year.

I will strive to create days that are filled with laughter, bonding, play, new experiences, learning, nutritious meals and snacks and on-schedule rest for all. I will make playdates with other mamas and babes, for they keep us all sane.

Yet if there be a day filled with crying, sibling rivalry, boredom, junk food and failed naps, I will accept this, and work for a better tomorrow. I will not consume an entire bag of M&Ms/chips/gummy bears to erase my pain, as that will merely expand my ass. I will rely via text on the comfort of my friends, and get the kids out of doors immediately. And if there be rain and we cannot go outside, I will not feel persecuted by the universe. I will devise another plan, even if that plan consists only of a visit to Target.

I will endeavor to be frugal, in the hallowed halls of Target as well as in other stores. I will not be led into temptation by an $8 box of organic cookies at Whole Paycheck. I will employ the aid of the Internet, magazines and word-of-mouth for free or low cost things to do. I will actively enlist the word of Groupon on my quest to never pay full price for any activity.

I will avoid the Land of No, turning instead to the land of positive requests. I will demonstrate the wisdom to empathize, not chastise, to tell, not yell, to supervise, not patronize and to breathe, not seethe. Thank you, Jesse Jackson.

I will schedule myself time to exercise so as to avoid bitchiness and the 4-months-pregnant belly that necessitates a new wardrobe. I will have the sense to schedule personal time for myself at regular intervals. And if this personal time come not soon enough, and I feel desperation creeping in, I will make a plan, enlist childcare, don exercise wear or cocktail wear and leave my residence.

In case of meltdowns, I will remain calm and firm. I will not get sucked into the tornado into which my child has morphed. I will give him/her time alone or hold him/her as the situation merits. I will keep him/her from breaking bones by stealthily placing a blanket or towel nearby as he thrashes like a junkie with the DTs.

I will, come Sunday, organize a list of dinners for the upcoming week so that I am not a stressed out mess every day at 5:00 p.m.

I will get as much sleep as possible. If I plan to rest, I will take this rest, AS SOON AS THE CHILDREN GO DOWN FOR THEIR NAP. I will not clean, write, make phone calls, answer e-mails, search the Web, or go astray on the pages of Facebook, only to find that my unpredictable napper has awoken earlier than estimated and stolen my sleep. I will set an alarm if need be, so that I can putter about or prep dinner(!) after some power zzz’s.

I will realize that potty training is a process and that, long though it may take, my children will not cast their first presidential election ballot in diapers.

I will enlist the power of the elephant-in-the-armoire, the TV, in moderation. And I will not be afraid to do so, for PBS is good.

I will endeavor to devote some energy to my relationship with my husband so that we might enjoy our co-existence as husband and wife, and not only mother and father.

I will remain educated and up to date on the latest scholarship and ideas in parenting. I will strive to be more June Cleaver than Roseanne. I will refuse to, however, beat myself up for the forgot to dos, could not do under the circumstances and cannot dos. I will remember that though I may fail, though I may yell, though my kids might watch over an hour of Caillou daily, I am a good mother, dammit.

Reverence, bow, or nod the head. Ballet run to exit stage left.


  1. I don't even know how Amy has time to run to the laundromat while having 3 kids in NYC, much less run a dance company and teach in higher ed. Way to go, lady! Seriously people... I received hand-me-downs from her and I asked, "Where are the stains? You can't possibly have twins and no stains on the clothes." Amy and Chad are beyond compare...

    p.s. Great stuff, Keesha! Kudos to you! I started a blog a little under a year ago and I have ONE whopping entry. I should add a clause about that to my own mommy contract, saying I won't beat myself up about it! :) An inspiration! Thank you!

  2. "I will not get sucked into the tornado my child has morphed". This is so hard to do, but a good reminder. I will not think of you all summer when the twisters start turnin' and repeat to myself how I won't get sucked in. Great post!


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