I’m sitting on my bed with my computer on my lap and my game face on. It is 9 a.m. on Saturday, and I will read my entire Facebook News Feed before I have to take my daughter to piano lessons at 10 a.m.
This may not be the greatest objective ever set, but as a 37-year-old full-time working mom, Facebook is about as close as I come to a real social life. You may laugh, but I just saw you like my status so I know you are on there too.
My husband has set off for his daily “conversation with the governor” and my kids are upstairs playing nicely in their bedrooms. I have fed, clothed, washed, dried, and wiped everyone’s butts and am settled in for a well-deserved bit of me time.
When my husband finally ends his bathroom session and comes into the bedroom 20 minutes later, this is the scene that ensues:
The 3-year-old barrels into my room: Mommy, can you make me a twisty braid? Not one straight down the back, but an Elsa side-braid with this purple ponytail holder?
Me: Grrrr…yes…(braids furiously, ties off hair)…now go away.
Husband: That was terrible. I can’t believe you just told her to go away. How could you say that to our child. What kind of lesson is that teaching her? This is our family weekend time, and you should be spending it bonding with her instead of goofing off on Facebook.
While my husband was off taking care of his business, I was interrupted 458 times. That’s not an exaggeration; I counted. I oversaw four costume changes, three different hairstyles per child, arbitrated seven disputes, refused two snack requests, reminded one kid where she can find water (hint: her cup), and read exactly one scroll-worth of Facebook statuses—one single measly little scroll in 20 minutes of me-time.
If you are the primary caregiver (i.e., the person the kids call for when they need anything), you will recognize this as just another regular day in the parental office. It is what we do, and like it or not, we signed up for some amount of interruption the moment we agreed to house a child in our homes.
We perform these great daily feats in parenting so often that they become invisible to everyone in the house. No one sets out to become the family doormat, but somewhere in between working mom guilt and marital complacency and trying to avoid a visit from child protective services, we end up putting our own needs dead last and never even notice.
What would happen if we did notice? What would happen if we all stood up one day and said, “Fuck this shit! I have earned the right to have 20 minutes to myself to use any way I damn well like, including doing nothing but watching cute cat videos on YouTube!” What if we stopped spending every waking moment running around like chickens with our heads cut off, darting between parental obligations and activities that society wants us to do so that we’ll be better, skinnier, smarter versions of ourselves?
In trying to progress the women’s liberation movement and do all the things and be everything to everyone, I think we have all forgotten about being true to ourselves. I know I certainly have. Whereas my own mother had no hesitation about sending me out to play in the street so she could read an entire romance novel, I can’t seem to justify three minutes to check out a Twitter notification.
Worse yet, I’ve let my husband and my children forget that I have passions and interests too — pursuits that have nothing to do with them.
This morning, as my husband stands over me with judgement in his eyes, I slowly close my laptop. Then I stand up and bash him repeatedly over the head with it, while loudly and clearly recounting every single bonding moment I’ve had with our children since they pulled me from my bed at 6:57 a.m. The keyboard breaks off in my hands, and he whimpers as he tries to block the shots to his arms and shoulders. I throw the remnants of my computer on the floor and march up the stairs to read my children the riot act. I ask them when is the last time they can remember doing something nice for Mommy. When was the last time they let Mommy sleep in, or pee without banging on the door, or eat dinner without complaining about the color of the vegetables on their plate? I show no sympathy for their trembling lower lips and tear-tracked cheeks.
I sweep through the closets and grab every single reminder of my maternal status: the last pairs of maternity pants, the old breast pump, and finally the dusty baby monitor that kept me at their beck and call 24 hours a day. I carry them into the backyard, pour lighter fluid on them, strike the match, and sit back and laugh maniacally.
Or I don’t. None of it.
I look up at my husband and nod my head in shame, make a few stuttering attempts to explain that I had been playing with the kids. Then, giving up, I close my computer and head off to re-dress them for the day.
My mother’s generation burned their bras. My generation burns itself out. Maybe they had the right idea in the first place.
This post originally appeared on BLUNTmoms.