Something has radically shifted since I had my first child fifteen years ago. When I was pregnant with my first baby, preschool was a matter of personal preference. Optional. It was like: "You're keeping her home, that's cool." Nowadays, you MUST put your child on a preschool waiting list. While you're still pregnant. Because don't you know? Preschool is the new college prep. These days, if you tell people you're not putting your kid in preschool they're like: "YOU'RE KEEPING HER HOME????WHY WOULD YOUR RUIN HER CHANCES OF GETTING INTO HARVARD??" All-cap sentences and lots of question marks are ruining motherhood, I'm telling you.
Mothering is way more intense now than it was when my firstborn was a baby. Back then, I was a Good Mom for taking her to the park. Now, that's not good enough. Not even close. These days, you're supposed to play with your kids. And not just play but be totally, completely, utterly enmeshed with them.
Only Bad Moms sit on the bench and watch their kids play. And the WORST MOMS? They sit on the bench and look at their iPhones. In the New Motherhood, iPhones are the new cigarettes.
What baffles me about the New Motherhood is how quickly we've invented brand new ways of shaming women. Society now tells mothers that they must be 100% present for their children AND be 100% committed to keeping the ROMANCE ALIVE in their marriages. They must stay OFF their iPhones AND use their iPhones for taking lots of pictures for scrapbooks. Oh, also? Mothers must stay smokin' hot, 24/7.
I'm sorry, but I am not a 24 hr. drive-thru. You can't just roll up any ol' time or day or night and get what you want in five minutes or less.
But still. This is what we ask of mothers today.
I saw this ad just last week that said: "She's 53 but she looks 23!" I think it was the exclamation point at the end of the sentence that freaked me out the most. I mean, read that sentence without the exclamation point: "She's 53 but she looks 23." You read that sentence and you might think: wow, that's weird. THAT'S not normal. But then you read that sentence WITH the exclamation point and you're all: "WOW, she's 53 and she looks 23? THAT'S AWESOME!" Poorly placed exclamation marks are ruining motherhood, I'm telling you.
This is the New Motherhood: you're not allowed to get old. 40 is the new 20! 53 is the new 23! #StaySexyUntilYouDie
No, stupid world, no. 53 is NOT the new 23. I'll tell you what the new 23 is: dim lighting. Who needs Botox when you've got candlelight? Nobody, that's who.
Here's the other thing I don't understand about the New Motherhood: school is different. Time was, I dropped my kids off at school and yelled: "CATCH YA LATER, YO!" But not anymore. Oh, no. Only Bad Mothers do that.
Nowadays, I have to take out a 2nd mortgage just to pay for the first grade school supply list: 2 boxes Kleenex, 2 pkg. antibacterial wipes, 2 plane tickets to Hawaii.... OK, OK. I'm kidding about the plane tickets to Hawaii. Sort of.
I'm also supposed to be best friends with my kids' teacher: I have to remember her birthday. Bring presents. Respond to all her emails. Make a scrapbook of all the special times we shared at school this year. Because this is the New Motherhood
Confession: I don't know how to talk to a Room Mom without having a panic attack. You have not met a true solider until you've met a Room Mom with a color-coded spreadsheet. She wields that bad-boy like a weapon against your wallet. Before you know it, you're drafted into cookie-dough fundraisers and deep inside basic training for the laminating machine.
The hardest part is that I can't hate the Room Moms. I mean, they're so nice. And they're working for freeeeeeee. And they're typing all these passive-aggressive emails like: "Dear Mrs. Esther, we would LOVE it if you could maybe bring12 mini-sized, gluten-free, peanut-free water bottles to the Jog-a-thon! Thank you sooooooo much. XOXOXOXO. Happy Face. Room Mom 1 and Room Mom 2."
I love these Room Moms, man. There is nothing they love more than the reply-all button. Sometimes I just pop a bowl of popcorn and sit there refreshing my email inbox and making bets with myself about how quickly the Halloween Party job assignments will be taken. I mean, I gotta sign up FAST if I wanna bring paper goods otherwise I'll be stuck baking gluten-free Paleo cupcakes with sugar-free, hand-woven spiderwebs on top.
Sometimes, if I'm feeling really evil, I'll type out an email: "Can someone check on whether the bottled waters from Costco are BPA and gluten-free?" Then I sit back and wait because someone WILL check and get back to me in five minutes or less.
Because THIS. This is the New Motherhood.