Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Establishing My Identity

One of the most common complaints about becoming a mom is that it's easy to lose your identity. Suddenly everyone knows you only as Julie's Mom or Kyle's Mom, and every question and conversation that used to involve nothing more than you, you and a little more about you is all about them. For example:

How are you? --> How are the kids?
You look great! --> You look great, for someone that's had 3 kids.
Nice to see you! --> Nice to see the kids.
Let's go to happy hour! --> Let's meet at the park.
Do you have a Red Bull? --> Do you have a juice box?
I just bought a BMW M5. --> I just bought a minivan.
Do you have a mint? --> Do you a couple rolls of Smarties?
Dammit! It's last call! --> I only have the sitter until 10:00.
I love your shoes! --> I love your daughter's shoes.

Even my own kids find it hard to believe that I had a life before them and that at one point, I was a much thinner/occasionally fun person and found pleasure in more than just stain removal, driving a minivan to piano lessons and cooking semi-edible food. It's surprising to them that I had conversations in my own home that involved using obscenities without muttering, complained about my size 4's being too roomy and could go an entire month without ever having to say "don't squeeze the juice box."

But since I'm not one to dwell on the past (besides, I've tried and it's not as much fun as it sounds), I've decided to focus more on my current mom-self and make sure that they start noticing my finer qualities, not the side of me that is best described as "ape shit insane control freak perfectionist sarcasm queen." So, throughout the last weekend (which by the way, involved spending another bazillion hours at two different tennis tournaments with a couple dozen tennis players/ friends from our club), I tried really hard to always be prepared, patient, encouraging, anti-embarrassing and supportive, and hoped that the short people that share my last name learned something about me.

Crisis #1: One of the coaches was really hungry, but didn't have time to go buy something to eat.
Solution: I had an extra sandwich in my cooler, which I gladly handed over.
Lesson Learned: Mom is generous and always happy to feed others.

Crisis #2: Another player's mom asked if I could give her daughter a ride to the 8am matches on Monday morning. I, of course, said sure. After arriving in their driveway, on time, and seeing that no one was coming out of the house, doorbells were rang and phone calls were placed, resulting in player and player's mom being woken up and slightly embarrassed.
Solution: They were going to have to drive themselves, and my focus instantly switched to getting my own kids to the match on time as I pictured the chaos taking place in the house that I just left.
Lesson Learned: Mom never lets people oversleep and is a great, if sometimes irritated, back-up alarm clock.

Crisis #3: Over the course of the weekend, various players had: skinned knees, a headache, an unexpected period, too much sun exposure, a dying iPhone, a worn grip, and a parking meter that was about to expire.
Solution: I had band-aids, Advil, a tampon, sunscreen, a phone charger, an extra grip and spare quarters.
Lesson Learned: Mom is always hyper-prepared, embarrassingly organized and is always willing to share.

Crisis #4: During one of Charlie's doubles matches, another mom insisted on sitting right next to me. This normally wouldn't be a problem, except for the fact that she had the world's worst case of B.O. and I was sitting downwind from her. I couldn't think straight, I seriously almost gagged and my vision was temporarily blurred.
Solution: I made up some lame excuse like "I should go check and see what Zoe is up to" and left the bleachers. Charlie asked me later why I left the match and when I told him the reason he couldn't stop laughing.
Lesson Learned: Mom will lie in order to avoid disgusting situations, oxygen deprivation, or death.

Crisis #5: After arriving home on Saturday night, my kid was bummed because he had worn his favorite tennis shirt all day and needed to be back at the courts at 8:00 Sunday morning. There would be no time for laundry to be done, so he wouldn't have his favorite tennis shirt.
Solution: When kid woke up on Sunday morning, he discovered that not only had I already worked out and showered, but his clean tennis shirt had magically appeared outside his bedroom door.
Lesson Learned: Mom doesn't sleep.

Crisis #6: After a couple months of saying "don't forget your water bottle," sure enough, one of my kid's forgot his water bottle at home.
Solution: I calmly said "That's okay, we'll figure something out" and I asked another mom if she had an extra water.
Lesson Learned: Mom doesn't always spaz out over minor things after all and will, in fact, ask other people for something once in a while.

Crisis #7: After a great weekend of tennis that included A) Charlie winning a Level 5 (aka really hard tournament) consolation singles championship, B) Zach's USTA 14U team winning the sectional championship and earning a trip to the Team Tennis Nationals in Arizona, and C) Our club's 18U team also earning a trip to Nationals, a bunch of the players wanted to go out to dinner to celebrate. I was covered in sweat residue and dirt and had kind of forgotten what my house looked like, and I wanted to go home. But the boys really wanted to go out with their friends.
Solution: The place they wanted to go had beer and onion rings, so I said 'kay.
Lesson Learned: Mom is willing to make sacrifices for her kids' enjoyment, especially if there is beer involved.

Crisis #8: It was a long weekend that involved getting up early, sitting on hot courts, eating out of a cooler and getting to bed late. And even though she wasn't playing tennis, Zoe attended all of it and managed to stay pleasant -- until Tuesday morning. And Charlie loved spending time with his friends and was in a great mood -- until Tuesday morning. And Zach is, well, a teenager. So when Zoe snapped at Zach, he snapped back, forcing her into tears and sending Charlie stomping off in a "what did I do?" rant.
Solution: I said "Everyone stop talking and take a ten-minute break from each other, because you're all crabby." Zach said no, I don't think that's it. I think the only one that's crabby is you.
Lesson Learned: Zach now knows that he should never, ever, under any circumstances, accuse me of being crabby. And I'm pretty sure that from now on, he won't be forgetting his water bottle, since it's now firmly implanted in his left nostril.

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