Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Of laundry and motherhood

Happy mom with her four children

I am growing weary of hearing about Amy Coney Barrett’s seven children. Some days I really wonder if she is being considered for Mother of the Year instead of a seat on the highest court of the land. In fact, I wonder if she’s such a dedicated mother how she will have time for the judiciary

Today I heard that a senator even asked her who does the laundry at her house. Are we kidding? And do we care? Truth we all know is that she has hired help to do the laundry, in spite of her proper reply that she encourages the children to each take responsibility. Can you imagine seven children fighting over whose turn it is to have the washing machine?

When my four (see I can understand her a bit—she just outdid me!) were young, they were on a kid’s TV program called “Hobab” which, so they told me, meant helper. The moderator asked each in turn what they did to help their mommy at home, and my little angels reported that they made their beds and picked up their clothes and did any number of other household chores.

Until the moderator came to Jordan, the youngest and then maybe four or five. She looked at her siblings with amazement and said, “The maid does all those things.” Then asked about the role of policemen, she brilliantly said, “Policemen are your friends. And if you don’t have a Cadillac, they will help you get one.” We have not let her forget those answers to this day, though she has had some hard lessons on who does the laundry and makes the beds and washes the dishes. And she now knows that policemen won’t get you a Lexus (today’s version of the Cadillac).

Last night a friend was telling about a woman who complained that she could barely raise one child, while my friend and neighbor made raising four look so easy. As the mother of four, I had the quick answer to that one: “Tell her that raising four is always easier—they entertain each other.” I didn’t add that with four you don’t have the time or energy to helicopter over one.

I have never forgotten the time a nursery school mother called me to ask if my oldest daughter was free a week from Thursday. I’m sure I gulped. Who in the heck knew? I wasn’t sure what the child was doing in the next ten minutes, and I surely did not keep a social calendar for her. When that same child was ready for pre-school—oh so ready!—she wasn’t eligible for the TCU pre-school where her brother went because of the way her birthday fell. So I visited countless pre-schools. What I found was that many of them specialized in pandemonium. I ruled those out right away—she had that at home, and I sure didn’t need to pay tuition for her to get that at school.

My four kids, the product of a rowdy, happy, childhood, have been known to say to me that they couldn’t handle more than two children. I look at them in amazement, but then each married people who were from two-children families. Is this some kind of conspiracy against big families? Those who married into our family are generally, I think and hope, delighted with our frequent (until pandemic and quarantine) family get-togethers. But occasionally I see one or the other off in a corner with a look on his or her face that clearly says, “How did I get into this situation?”

The other line from my kids which used to crack me up when the grandchildren were little was, “Mom, you just don’t understand how hard it is.” Oh, really? That’s when my thought that four is easier than one or two came roaring back.

Politics aside, I admire Barrett if she is truly that dedicated a mother. Two of her children are multi-racial and adopted (do I have that number right?) and the media seems to invoke sainthood for that. My four children are all adopted, a fact long since put in the past and never talked about because we are a family, a tight, close-knit loving family. And one child is multi-racial or whatever, although as his wife once said to me, “He doesn’t really believe that.”

I am the loving mom of four loving children, and I believe anyone can fill that role. Nope, Judge Barrett, I don’t give you any special chops for having seven children. And, seriously, I don’t think you’re the Mother of the Year.

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