Thursday, June 4, 2015
Mommy abuse: Kids always hurt the one they love
For years, I haven't been sure just how much my kids truly care about me. I mean, yeah, they like to kiss, hug, cuddle and snuggle. They have been dependent on me to feed them, bathe them, read to them and supply them with tasty snacks and playthings. And sure, they regularly say "I love you!"
But still: There are times when I wonder if they are at all concerned about my well being. Particularly:
• When I am sick and lying in bed looking deathly pale/sniffling/moaning/all of the above, or just utterly and completely wiped out, and one of the kids walks into the room and asks me some random thing like, "Mommy, where are the pipe cleaners?" or "Can we go on a Disney Cruise next year?"
• When one of the kids accidentally hurts me—by, say, poking me in the eye, head-butting me, stomping on my foot or stomping on a kidney—and proceeds to nonchalantly carry on with whatever they're up to as tears spring to my eyes.
Lately, Sabrina enjoys doing cartwheels in the living room. As I am sitting there innocently reading a book or magazine I will remind her, "Watch out, honey, I'm here!" Inevitably, I will end up getting smacked in the arm (once, my forehead) by one of her legs. "Sorry, Mommy!" she'll say as I wince and grab my smarting body part, and then she will immediately return to her gymnastics.
Meanwhile, when Max wants my attention, he has this habit of mussing my hair (he's at the perfect height). Only inevitably his fingers get tangled in it because fine-motor skills are not his specialty and suddenly, it's like he's trying to yank my hair out strand by strand.
You always hurt the one you love, the saying goes and, wow, us moms get hurt a whole lot. It's not just the discomfort or, as the case may be, agonizing pain. It's that you seriously wonder about your kids, your usually sweet, nice kids who seem to be wholly devoid of empathy. Have they no concern for their poor, suffering mom, the one who worries over their every boo-boo, no matter how invisible it is? Don't they care that you have been mortally injured, or close to it? Couldn't they at least offer up one of their precious nine million Band-Aids? Might you be raising psychopaths? Have they no idea that if they knocked you out, nobody would be available to cut the crusts off their sandwiches?
The torture is unique to moms, because dads have thicker skins (literally); they're too engrossed in SportsCenter to notice that a child has just karate-kicked them; or they are happily joining in the rough-housing and about to break one of your vases.
Naturally, you don't want to make the kids feel badly, or say anything that might trigger years of therapy. And so, you bite your lip, hide your tears, repress the "Ouch!" and do your best not to screech "I THINK MY EYEBALL MAY FALL OUT OF MY HEAD!!!"
Or you joke around, even as you want to (gently) shake their little shoulders and say "Hello, I am a mother of the human variety and I am capable of feeling pain." Last year, when I was in the throes of a frozen shoulder and barely able to get my left arm into a shirt, one afternoon Sabrina asked if I'd do jumping jacks with her. In the perkiest voice possible I said, "I don't think I can, sweetie, or my arm might fall off!" (Fine, so that's just a couple of years of therapy.)
Why is there no protection plan for moms? Why isn't The American Federation of Mommies Union taking a stand on these dangerous workplace conditions? And come to think of it, where are my benefits?
Lately, though, I am getting payback. Oh, boy, am I getting payback. Because Max is regularly checking in to see if I am OK. And not just OK, mind you, but happy.
Max: "Are you so happy?"
Me: "Yes, I am so happy! Are you so happy?"
Me: "Yes, I am so happy!"
At first, I was delighted to know that he cared. He really and truly cared. Then he started asking me a lot. As in, approximately every 15 minutes. He asks when I wake up, as I stand in the shower, even when I'm doing something that isn't particularly joy-inducing. If I say, "Actually, mopping the kitchen floor doesn't make me that happy!" he looks concerned and so I'll correct myself and say, "Yes, Max, I am so happy!"
Last night, as I was sitting at the kitchen table doing work at around 10:00, the phone rang. Max woke up and sleepily shouted from upstairs, "Are you so happy?"
Well, I asked for it.
Image: Crying Girl (1963), Roy Lichtenstein