Both my boys have eczema. The younger one has it worse, the red patches pop up like a daily game of whack-a-mole on his little body. Scaly clouds behind his knee, and a constellation of pin-pricks across his belly. We have the steroid cream the doctor prescribed, but I like to think of myself as a ‘natural’ mother, I grew up eating fruit leather and carob, for christssake. So it sits on the shelf reserved for worst-case scenarios.
I spend hours searching the web for ‘natural eczema remedies’ – but they almost all involve giving up dairy and wheat, and I just can’t do that. (um, hello, French toast Saturdays?) In this way, I am a terrible mother. Selfish, lazy, hypocritical. Of course I would do it if his life depended on it; I’m not THAT terrible. But he doesn’t seem bothered by it, nor does my pediatrician. So I let it go.
I let a lot of things go. Don’t we all? That’s the only way it’s possible to survive this motherhood gig. If I make it look effortless, it’s only because I choose not to bother. Or at least, I do it half-assed, which I clock at a smidgen above lazy.
It drives my husband mad, because he of course sees all the little things I let go. He sees the half finished projects all over the house, and can find me by following the trail of open cupboard doors like Hansel and Gretel following crumbs. And speaking of crumbs, he only need look at the floor to know that I do indeed feed our boys while he’s away.
How can you live like this? He’ll sometimes ask.
Like what? I say, I don’t know what you’re talking about.
But of course I do.
I personally prefer to drink my coffee hot, and not reheated three times in a microwave splattered with bits of broccoli soup that I refuse to wipe.
If I am en vogue with anything, it’s this minimalist craze. Frankly it means there is less for me to do. If we give away all our clothes, that’s less laundry. Fewer toys mean less to tidy. Feel free to admire my house and chalk it up to simplicity in my parenting, but really, I just can’t be bothered to accumulate. I’m pretty sure Marie Kondo would call me the the tidiest magician on the block.
I want to enjoy myself. I want to have FUN with this parenting gig. I don’t want to measure my days by the number of dishes I’ve done or the piles of Legos I’ve swept. At some point I have to imagine Sisyphus stopped counting his trips up the hill. Not that I’m comparing motherhood to Sisyphus’s plight, mind you.
When the little old ladies lean over and whisper to me that this time goes by so fast, and that I should appreciate every moment, I know they are talking about my adorable towheads. I know they mean these boys will be gone before I know it and that I should enjoy every moment of motherhood.
But sometimes I want to whisper back, What about ME?
I’m growing just as fast, and these wrinkles even faster. I mean, my god, even my earlobes are starting to look old. I did not expect those to go first. It’s hard to imagine now, but if my boys will be grown before I know it, I’ll be old before they know it. And I’m talking rocking chair on the porch old.
Maybe it’s not laziness then. Maybe it’s a well-informed, conscious decision to keep myself young and carefree. Or at least my attempt to live with shame-free intention. Brené Brown would be proud.
So yes, did I drop my son off at school today, knowing full well that a case of lice just turned up in his class? ‘No rubbing heads with anyone today, you hear?’ I have things to do.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my boys. I get down on their level, I play with them, I acknowledge their feelings, I back away and observe them, I give them space, I don’t solve their problems, I am Janet effing Lansbury in a bottle, when I want to be. And I’m OK with myself. I don’t have a lot of guilt. I don’t think my boys will need therapy when they’re grown. I just hope they don’t look back one day and call me lazy.
But you know, I think I could let that go.