Mother of the Year 1995
On Mother’s Day of 1995 I was awarded with the prestigious Mother of the Year award.
I had forgotten all about it until I came across the buried trophy as I was de-hoarding my bureau. I untwisted the necklaces that were draped around her neck, dusted off her base and let mind wander back to the mother I was 19 years ago.
I was a great mother. How could I not be? It was still easy. I only had two children; one three years-old, the other not old enough to talk back yet. My husband was a newspaper reporter at The Bergen Record and I had scaled down my hours at CNBC, working three days a week writing ad copy and marketing brochures. We were young and in love and our kids did not completely consume our lives. Yet.
We had our individual freedoms. I spent a childless weekend every year (and still do) with six college chums. I’d sneak off to Pennsylvania for the day to visit my family. I’d have drinks with my co-workers on Friday nights. My spouse had a long-standing weekend in Wildwood with the boys. He went to jazz shows in the city with friends. He rode his bicycle and jogged in Central Park.
And we did fun things together. I once pitched to Mick Jagger’s ex-wife, Bianca, who accompanied a semi-famous politician to a softball game for friends, flacks and reporters. My spouse rooted me on as I played alongside fledgling anchors from CNBC who became household names (for their financial knowledge, not their athleticism). We went to movies. We went to dinner. We spent an inordinate amount of money on babysitters in achieving that perfect balance of career, fun and parenting.
I smiled, remembering those early years –the chubby little legs, the precocious little sentences, the unwarranted little hugs. I was a great mother. I didn’t yell at my kids because they were too young to care if I did. (Well, that never changed.) On my days off, we took Mommy and Me classes, went to children’s museums and hung out in the park with Mary Jo and her kids – my spouse’s friend from work who I stole from him.
And then there were three.
It wasn’t number three, per se, who was responsible for my fall from grace. We were simply outnumbered, outfoxed and outright exhausted. As they got older and wiser, we just got older and wearier.
And, any of you who have multiple children know what happens next. You start thinking about working full-time again, rationalizing that it’s for the money, not the peace. You start praying (literally) for your kids to go to bed without a fight. Just once. You yell more. You sleep less. You serve chicken fingers for every meal. You stop criticizing those who have live-in help. You beg, you bargain, you break.
You are no longer Mother of the Year.
I rubbed the battered trophy, remembering how touched I was when my ever-loving spouse bestowed this fabricated award upon me. And, I can’t help but wonder. Now that we’re back down to one kid, do I have a chance to win again?