I'M NOT BITTER (A Mom's Tale)

A few weeks ago, my husband and I had a fight that ended with two of my toes turning deep purple.

He came home around 11:15pm because he’s in rehearsals for a new play and sometimes rehearsals go late. I’m cool with that. Being cool with stuff is part of any relationship that has got to last a long time. So, when I tell you that I can recall cordial greetings and niceties, but not how it went from “how’d-it-go” to “go-to-hell” in the space of a wine swallow, it’s because I honestly can’t remember. But I’m pretty sure it had to do with an ill-timed eye roll.  An eye roll, ill-timed mind you, caused me to throw my phone on the floor, use the profanity I save for special occasions, and kick the baby gate. Besides my toes, I also broke the number one rule my husband and I established about fighting from the get-go.  I called him a name.  (The name I called my husband wasn’t’ that bad. In fact, knowing that it will not happen again, I wish I had used something a lot more despicable. But it’s all very regrettable.)

Childish? Sure.  Feel good? Sure.  Why the tantrum?  Not quite sure. It’s out of character for me. But I do have a lead.

I used to act a lot more.  I used to write a lot more.  I used to live in the city and do cool city-type things. I used to work at an advertising agency by day (cool) and moonlight as a stage actress by night (radiating cool). I used to collaborate with theater people about original plays and drink in the filthiest dive bars on weeknights. I used to do staged readings and get calls asking me to please fill in for this role. I used to get callbacks.  I used to get greenlit (and un-greenlit).

I used to drink and drink while sitting across from my cool lesbian writing partner and laugh and shake my head at my unending comedy gold.  I used to spend whatever money I had at Anthropology so I could look like a classy, bohemian hooker. And I did. And I was hot.  I used to write at night and smoke all the cigarettes because it helped the process.  I used to think there was a process. And I was optimistic and ballsy and I still had elasticity in my skin. And I had time for everything.

Now I’m not ashamed of my age, but let’s just leave it at that. I have two kids: a son who’s nine and a daughter who’s two, and I no longer have time for everything. When people say, “I don’t have time for shit!”, I think, “Yeah, I don’t have time to take one.”  And if I do, there’s a kid in there with me. I’m a wife and a mom.  And even though I didn’t make it to the big time, I’m still the curator of my dreams.

I’m currently a short-order cook who moonlights as a busser.  I’m a carpet cleaner who can get out the toughest human fecal stains and still have energy to get that week-old whatever-the-fuck-it-is out of drapes. I’m a Common-Core math student because I need to know how to help my third-grader with his homework.  I’m a nurse, without the academia, formal training or diplomas. I am not a nurse. I am, however, a has-been actress, a hack writer (just wait), and an unbelievably supportive and sexy life-partner, if people are still saying life-partner.

I’m a Christian, an apostate, and a Somewhere-in-the-Middle. I’m a pre-school teacher, a sometime Sunday school teacher, and I’m First-Aid and CPR certified so I maybe could keep you from dying until the real help came.  My socio-economic situation is somewhat different than back in the day, but who of us isn’t in a book club just to get away from their family and chug economy wine?  Yes, this is me now, but I’m still relevant.  And I’m still the same ballsy chick I used to be if, people are still saying ballsy chick.

My 40’s aren’t so different from my 20’s: I don’t smoke pot because it makes me act like an 80’s sitcom, but I am glad they’re passing laws that allow normal people to smoke it.  I think having gay friends is easy, but having trans friends is hard. It won’t always be hard, but today it is because to have a trans friend means I have to shut my mouth about my hardships (being a semi-affluent white woman is hard, yo) and listen to what it’s like to fear for your life, and fight for the right to use a public restroom.  I believe Black Lives Matter.  I believe All Lives Matter as well, but I believe All Lives Matter needs to share their equality and privilege with All Black Lives Matter or else All Lives Matter needs a time-out.  Maybe even a spanking.

I know I must seem like the epitome of white privilege.  I’m actually whiter and more privileged than most, so I wear sunscreen when it’s overcast and hate myself sometimes. I believe I don’t really care for politicians or religious groups, or men or women telling me what I can or can’t do with my inner trappings.

But, as it stands, motherhood is my mantle, my sub-culture and my blurry day-to-day gift. And I am grateful for it. But even the sweetest gifts can kick you in the balls, as motherhood has made my adult brain “go bye-bye” and my grown-up voice is “where’d it go?”.  I’m in the process of finding them again, but because my children have a deep-seated belief that sleep is stupid, it may take a while.  (Free tip: it is ill-advised to take any online “Test Your Vocabulary” bullshit test while extended-nursing an overgrown toddler at 3am, because the test results may indicate that you have the vocabulary of a fourteen-year old in the U.S. Those results are dumb and the tests are stupid and I’m going to take it again.)

One more thing about why I kicked the baby gate: I can’t swear in my house or my car or my backyard. So, when I swear in my house or my car or my backyard, it’s always under my breath, with no one around.  And then, unfailingly, a child will manifest out of the ether and use exaggerated Anime eyes to say, “You said the really bad word!”.  Quietly kicking inanimate objects is less incriminating. And I will continue to do so as I balance new theater projects with my mom duties while doling out Cheetos for breakfast and restricting my nine-year-old’s screen time to a number I won’t lie about.  I will keep my shit together when we’re fresh out of the homeopathic children’s sleep syrup I abuse I mean use. And fail daily at the list of what I’m supposed to get done on a simple Tuesday.  So, what does a poor privileged white woman do? Take a deep breath, give my son extra screen time, and carry on. (He will remember me as nice. Weary, but nice.)

And then this spring, I find myself on the board (read important) of a small, fledging theater company.  We have our season mapped out, our new space beginning construction, and our projects designated so that very soon, I will be the one coming home late while my husband decides how to react to an eye roll. But until then, on any given night after 11:15pm, tread lightly. Because this sexy (make no mistake) has-been is tired, and I’m not afraid to kick a baby gate.

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