truth bomb: mom cliches

I hate telling people that I write a blog because I know what they think it's going to be.


Aw. That's so cute. 

They think I'm posting recipes, photo albums of my children's Sears Photo Studio sessions, earnest epiphanies about motherhood, humblebragging about how creative and patient and fun I am, and florid declarations of how precious life is.

OR they think I'm non-stop bitching about how busy, stressed, and messy life is, regaling my dozen or so readers with diapers most foul, humiliating public spectacles, and times I've said, "fuck it, go ahead, chew on rocks."

I do not relate to either one of those mommy blog tropes. I don't write this blog to perpetuate a myth about the warm, rainbow-filled paradise of motherhood, or to hop on the bumpin' bandwagon of too-cool mommy-glow subversion that has become all the rage.

I read other mommy blogs and community sites, and 90% of it is garbage. Let me clarify- when I say "it's garbage," the "it" I'm referring to is not:

1. The women who wrote these pieces
2. The stories told in those pieces
3. The children who inspired those pieces

The "it" that is garbage? IT is the avalanche of mom cliches that barrels down the side of Mount MommyBlog every single day.

Now, cliches only got to be cliches by being true for a large number of people, so it makes sense that people trying to communicate with a large audience might rely on them to tell a story.

But a cliche is just a people-pleaser, and who wants to hang out with that guy? He's bland, unsurprising, and routine. He never says anything I haven't heard a thousand times before. And if the experience of being a mother and knowing other mothers has taught me anything, it's that parenting is anything but bland, unsurprising, and routine.

Moms are basically a pile of unmatched socks, is what I'm saying - made up of the same basic matter, but none identical to any other. So while we share many of the same gripes, fears, triumphs and failures, we also need to tell our stories using words that honor that uniqueness.

So while those mom platitudes might, yes, apply to me, I'd like to take a minute to truth-bomb a few of my least-favorite mom cliches:

1. Moms Love Wine

I get nervous about how much I look forward to a drink in the evening, or how intentionally I have to hold the starting line at 5:00 pm.

When I open the fridge to make my boys' lunch, and the 3-year-old is whining and throwing Legos into the fan, and the 1-year-old is screaming and pulling on my pant leg, the half-drunk bottle of Sauvignon blanc makes that musical liquid sloshing sound and nothing has ever sounded more delicious than a really cold glass of chill the fuck out.

But I once read a great piece about why many poor people eat McDonald's - because it tastes good, and pleasure is valuable to people who can't afford to take vacations or go to the movies.

I feel that way about a drink at the end of a day. There is so much "have-to" in my day - the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning isn't have a cup of coffee or wash my face. The first thing I do is change a shitty diaper. Because I have to. So when 5:00 hits, I choose my pleasure. I choose the thing that's for me. But Katie, wouldn't it make you happy to go for a run? You don't have to have a drink. True. But you try cooking dinner on a treadmill. Let me know how that goes.

2. Moms Drink So Much Coffee

i love the smell
of salvation
in the morning
and also with lunch
and sometimes
at like 3:30
if it's been a long one

Because I'm fucking tired, okay? It's a hot cup of alertness and productivity, and it gives me a jolt of can-do-ism, 30 glorious buzzing minutes in which I can do the work of ten men while singing the score from Chicago. HA-CHA! WHOO-PEE!

Plus, I don't know if you heard, but coffee is the new water.

I just made that up, but let's make that a thing. You with me?

3. Moms Think They Have The Hardest Job In The World

First of all, I don't think I have the hardest job in the world - my job is way fucking easier than deactivating bombs in Afghanistan, following ripening crops across the country as a migrant laborer, or administering comfort care to toddlers with terminal cancer.

anybody who would rather
pick soybeans
than pick up a few sneakers
has never picked soybeans
for their whole lives
while trying to get american citizenship
so they can legally
pick more soybeans
I do think a lot of moms wouldn't feel the need to defend the difficulty of their jobs if we felt like this world did any more than pay lip service to the role of a thoughtful, conscientious mother. Sure, sure, moms are the heart of the home. That's just another cliche, a patronizing one at that, a pat on the head for all us simple girlish folk. And it falls hilariously short in recognizing the unique struggles of each parent who flogs her guts out doing enragingly repetitive and terrifyingly important work all day and all night of every day and night of their lives.

Do you even know how many hours of my life I've spent sleepwalking to the nursery and falling asleep with a baby on my breast? Or reading parenting books, cutting grapes, applying diaper cream, seasoning chili, putting away plastic fruit, reminding children to say please, taking deep breaths to slow my heart rate so I can think clearly, adding a spoonful of "chocolate dust" (Nestle Quik) to my kid's milk, and trying to scoop out half-full answers from the interminable, onrushing stream of "but why?"

When I read that list, I know how it sounds to people who aren't parents. Annoying, sure, and tedious, but hard? And that's what makes it harder - the doubt of people who require convincing before they'll acknowledge that my job is hard, hard work. It is harder still when I dare to pick my head up and peer over the wall to tomorrow's agenda, where, guess what, I will have to deal with shitty diapers and choking grapes and whys to explain. Again. And again. And forever.

that being said
picking up
the same sneakers
from the same place
three times a day
every day
that's still not awesome
not high on the list
of most people's three wishes
you know
from the genie
most people go with
world peace
healthy families
and then
a life sentence
of picking up other people's footwear

4. Moms Don't Have Time To Shower

This is like the go-to detail, the symbol we use to explain how much moms have to ration our personal time. I am so guilty of sharing with the world exactly how many days it's been since my last hygiene experience.

It's been six days. I never have time to shower. I just wish I could grab a shower. Ten minutes, that's all I ask.

Reality check... it's not that I don't have ten minutes. It's that any ten minutes I have is already spoken for six times over, and honestly, ain't nobody givin any kind of shit about how I smell. My kids love my musk. It's how they find me in a crowd. Our family's disaster meeting spot is "look for the flies."

You know that one commercial where they blindfolded the kids and made them find their mothers based on touch and smell and, I don't know, child x-man powers? Yeah we reproduced that at home, except the lineup was: oscillating fan, open closet door, recycling bin, me, can of olive oil. They went right to me. Well, Chicken did. Buster's a fan man. Children are so wise.


I guess if I had to close this post up (and, you know, I do) I would want to close it with a total reversal of my original argument (sorry. I'm the worst.)

I still think cliches are garbage. There's a better way to tell your story than with Hallmark catch phrases and schmaltzy platitudes. I still think each of us has a unique experience to which other moms can relate, and using canned language robs you of your uniqueness. 

Buuuuut I also think I'm picking on people who have taken a risk in putting themselves out there with stories that speak to the beating heart of their lives. And that pisses me off. Honestly, who am I to critique your writing? I am, after all, the author of this.

Self, chill the fuck out.

Moms, keep on keepin on, with your wine and coffee and not showering and having the hardest job ever. 

I'm just another mismatched sock on the pile.

I recognize you, but I've never seen anything like you before.

So tell me, in your own words, what's up with you lately?

hey girl
i know
me too

1 comment:

  1. When I first told one of my lifelong besties that I was starting a blog, she sighed into the telly (complete with hair flip, surely) before delving into how "blogs are just terrible. Like, they're just a bunch of moms writing about their daily lives and who wants to read that?" The cliche is obviously based on some rather piss-poor attempts at writing, but one can find awful writing in any genre, any format. Thank you for sharing this piece--I was nodding in unison throughout. :)