The other day on the walk home from the bus stop, June said to me, “Can I call you Mom instead of Mommy?” “What’s wrong with Mommy,” I asked. “It sounds too babyish,” she said, “all the kids at school say Mom instead of Mommy. I’m going to call you Mom now.” Then she tossed her backpack at me and scampered off to play with the neighbors.
Next fall I’ll have two school-aged children. Not babies anymore, just kids in school. I’m not a “new” mom or a mom with “two little ones” anymore. No one smiles at us in the grocery store anymore and says, “oh, what an adorable baby!” Now we’re just the annoying family with two loud kids. The novelty has worn off; I’m just a regular old Mom. Wait, old? Older, at least – a few weeks ago I actually posted on my personal Facebook account asking my friends what kind of mop they use. Some friends lol’d and said, “haha, look how old we are” but I was all, “haha, yeah. But what kind of mop do you like?” Because, you know, that shit’s important to me it seems. Whatever else happens in life, at least I’ll know I got that mop thing all squared away.
So now I’m just a regular Mom figuring out the best way to clean the floor. And before that makes me feel old and sad, I’m going to head it off with a finger-wag at myself: You should feel grateful that you get to worry about which mop is best. People are always saying, “First-world problems, right?” Aside from that being something that people say, don’t forget the truth in that. If there’s one thing we should all be thankful for this time of year, it’s that we got lucky enough to be born in America and not in Liberia or Iran or the Gaza strip. Because that means I get to worry about what mop to use and not if my child will die of Ebola or be abducted from school by the government and never seen again.
We’re lucky to have choices at all. And plumbing. We spend a lot of time these days quibbling over where our food comes from, how it’s made, how it’s packaged, and what we eat it on. We should be ever so thankful that the conversation can be about whether food has GMOs in it and not if we’re going to have food at all. I’m thankful that we live in a country that has the most abundant, affordable, and safest food supply in the world, supplied by hard-working farmers. And I’m thankful those farmers have the choice to use technology to grow that food, or not. I’m thankful we have the choice to buy whatever kind of food we like: organic, GM and conventional. We’re lucky as hell that we have grocery stores on every corner jam-packed full of affordable food. I’m thankful that I have the luxury of buying a cart full of groceries and spending a whole day cooking tasty food with my mom in the comfort of a warm house with running water and electricity.
Another thing that I’m reminded of as I get older and become Mom. Remember when you were young and holidays were a whirl of cookies and decorations and holiday parties and snowball fights and the hardest thing you had to do was wait until Christmas morning to open all those gifts? It felt like all that stuff just “happened.” The decorations went up while you were at a friend’s house, the food made itself, the gifts appeared (wrapped and all) and after the meal you just carried your plate over to the sink and that was all. Someone even made sure you didn’t burn your Christmas money in the fireplace when you tossed in some wrapping paper. That shit does not just happen, oddly enough. Now I’m the one baking those cookies, working the schedule to fit in all the holiday parties, washing wet mittens, crawling around in the knee-wall space finding the decorations and doing mountains of dishes. I know next week my husband is going to say, “I do NOT want to put up those Christmas lights. It’s cold and it’s raining. Can we just punt and get one of those inflatable snowmen from Costco?”
So aside from being thankful this year that I live in America where food is plentiful and cheap, I’m also thankful that my parents made holidays fun and effortless. I’m thankful that I didn’t even know cranberry sauce came in a can until I was in college, because my mom made everything from the cranberry sauce to the gravy from scratch. And she made it look easy. My dad put up the Christmas lights every year, without fail, and he made sure we went as a family to pick out and cut down our own fresh Christmas tree. They tried to keep Santa alive for us as long as they could – even one year going as far as using my dad’s shoes in the fireplace ashes to leave tracks on the carpet. There were always cookies, and lots of gifts and it was awesome. And they weren’t doing it so they could post pictures on Facebook and all their friends could virtually high-five them for making it such a Pinterest-inspired Christmas. They were doing it for us. And I’m thankful for that, because it makes me want to do it for my kids as well.
Finally, one more thing I’m thankful for. I’ve written before on how I’d like to go back to work, and as I look at those options I’m thankful that I’ve been afforded the opportunity to spend these last six-and-a-half years with my littles, because all of a sudden they’re not so little anymore. I’m lucky to have a healthy family that gets to enjoy this holiday together with bellies full of good food and warm memories.