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Being the “CEO” of Family Inc.

Unusually Contemplative Mark, Ottawa, August 2014
Unusually Contemplative Mark, Ottawa, August 2014

Some days I don’t want to be the mom. Don’t get me wrong: I still want Mark in my life—I just don’t want to be the “CEO” of Family Inc., I don’t want to be the one in charge.

When we were kids, we often engaged in imaginative play. You could choose whoever you wanted to be: the mom, the dad or the kid (and yes, a girl could perfectly play the father!). Well, if I had to pick again, some day I’d love to play the kid. Because being the mom is tough, tougher than we could ever imagine when we were kids ourselves.

I’m in charge. This alone can be a scary thought now, but it was downright terrifying when Mark was a newborn. I was responsible for keeping this little thing alive and happy. Good thing I was too exhausted to fully appreciate the weight of the responsibility. Instinct takes over, I guess. Both his and mine—survival.

These days, everything is less crucial. Mark won’t starve—big deal if he skips a meal, refuses to eat or only munches on crackers and bananas. If there is anything wrong, he let us know (loudly). He makes himself understand very well. Basically, I still don’t have a comprehension instruction manual but Mark is less fragile, less helpless.

He is exhausting, though. He climbs, he falls, he cries… and climbs again. He has no notion of danger so I have to keep an eye on him all the time. The world is a playground—except it’s not padded and he is just discovering that.

Being in charge of a toddler means you are on call 24/7. Mark doesn’t give a damn about the fact I’m tired, that I have work to do, that if we stay at the playground for too long I won’t have the time to go grocery shopping. As far as he is concerned, food grows in my bag. Cereal bars and bananas, mostly.

Mark doesn’t know that he is not my only job. I happen to work for money as well. I have assignments to complete, pieces to write, articles to edit and reports to translate. I have deadlines too.

I don’t go to bed when he does. And by the way, whoever says that you should sleep when your baby sleeps is complete bullshit. I know it applies to newborns, but still. When the baby sleeps, most of the time you eat, take a shower, work, try to maintain some social life or relax.

Some days, I don’t want to start the day wondering if I should bring a sweater or if Mark will be fine wearing just a t-shirt. I don’t want to stuff my bag with snacks. I don’t want to try to plan when his nap, if any, will be, and how long I can let him sleep to make sure he doesn’t stay up all night afterwards. I don’t want to clean, put food on the table, bath him and change him.

I don’t want to spend my days saying weird things like “please, don’t lick the window”, “be nice with Winnie the Pooh” and “put your sock back on”.

I just want to be taken care of.

I want to be the kid again. Whoever promoted me “mom” didn’t give me the full job description.


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