Another mother at my son’s new school shocked me when, upon meeting her, I asked what it’s like to have six children.
“It’s fun,” she said without a hint of sarcasm in her voice.
I soon discovered that she not only has a large brood but is raising her five daughters and one son, ages 2 to 12, on her own.
From what I usually observe, it’s almost unfathomable to think that a woman regards motherhood as fun, let alone one who is single and raising the brood the size of a volleyball team. Since having my son nine years ago, I have noticed that women often like to do nothing but complain when it comes to the business of motherhood.
Certainly some of this is meant for comic relief. You should hear my bestie's story about her last trip to Staples before the start of the school year. Never did I imagine that the details of a school supply list could become as funny as the punchline of a joke.
Sharing tales of how hard, challenging and tiring being a parent can be is also often a cue that a mom wants to commiserate. Mothers can be supportive of one another, if nothing else.
However, it often irks me when they grouse, especially when it’s about scheduling time. “What am I going to do with them all day?” is a common question when there is a school holiday. Better yet, in the run-up to the end of the school year, “What am I going to do with them all summer?” As a working mother, I could provide a list as long as a school district’s budget.
Complaining is not becoming to anyone’s looks. I remember one Sunday morning walking the hallways at the YMCA as my son took swim class and becoming startled looking around at other women there. Most wore a puss, their brows wrinkled and their faces in a scowl. After that day, I noticed that mothers glower everywhere. Could there be a link with the anti-wrinkle creams that have doused the store beauty aisles?
Who knows what someone else is really going through, no matter what they tell you — money problems, career problems, marriage problems, health problems, emotional problems. Maybe mothers are simply overtired. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to serve our children’s every need, sometimes to a fault. I know I am not too pretty when I pass through the front door like a zombie at the end of a work day knowing there's a night's worth of mom chores ahead. Somewhere in there I try to never lose sight out of what the work is ultimately about.
There was one mother at the Y who always wore a smile. She was the one fighting with me for some space through a small window in the door to see our sons swim. She has become the only friend I have made in all the years I have taken my son for classes there. What we share in common — she, like me, finds joy in watching our sons’ little limbs get stronger each time they take to the pool, come hell or high water.