When I was a little girl, I spent a lot of time reading my mother’s magazines- Redbook, Newsweek, Good Housekeeping, Parents- I read them all. Thanks to them, I was probably the world’s youngest Erma Bombeck fan, found out the truth about Santa Claus, and was the only kid in my neighborhood with an in-depth knowledge of the evolving science surrounding HIV. One of the core themes of the era, featured in every magazine, seemed to be the struggle to “have it all,” to be “superwoman.” Working women were burning out, melting down, and to read the hysterical coverage, would never be able to juggle all the balls they had in the air without heavy medication and a full staff.
Now, I’m no mother, but I’d like to be. My sister just gave birth to my darling new niece on May 30 and is in a full-on swoon, in love with this baby, who I’m hoping to go cuddle this month in person. At a party this weekend I got to make baby talk with two expecting moms. And my, my, my- I want one yesterday! Toddlers in the park distract me beyond conversation. My refrigerator is wallpapered with my friends’ baby announcements and holiday photos. And while my cynical self always rolled my eyes a little at the Ally McBeal biological clock obsession, I am starting to wonder when a dancing baby will start doing the cha-cha across my desk.
Yes, it’s bad. Casa de Eleanor has full-on baby fever. And I’m not even trying to get pregnant yet. But hey, why not buy curtains that might look nice in the baby’s room? I mean guest bedroom. I’m sure the constant updates on my new niece are leading to a little of the frenzy, but I mean, look at her:
I dare any woman who has ever wanted to raise a child to look at this baby and not ovulate spontaneously. I get three or four texts of her adorableness daily. And yes, bitter old broad that I am, I squeal at each and every one with glee.
But then, I get flashes of all that Supermom coverage I was inundated with as girl. Becoming a single mom will mean that, yes, I will need to hold down my job. And keep the house clean. And parent. Bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan. Like most people I imagine, there are days when just getting myself fed, washed, dressed, and out the door seems like a challenge. The carpet could be vacuumed a lot more often. Oh, and I should be writing on my novel every minute that I am awake instead of watching a Ghost Whisperer marathon on t.v. or scanning Facebook to see what my friend in DC had for dinner.
I can be pretty hard on me. I could always be a better friend, a better employee, a better writer, a better volunteer. And despite my firm belief that people manage to raise children the world over with less stuff than we do in the U.S. and that most babies are just as happy to bang a spoon as to play with their own baby laptop in a McMansion, I do wonder, can I be enough? Because I’d like not just to be a mom, but to be a good one.
So, in the interest of getting there one day, I make a little more effort. Just because it’s just me doesn’t mean I shouldn’t eat some fruit or veggies instead of cereal for dinner. Maybe those new curtains can wait while I save up for a car all my own. And maybe, every now and then, I could go a little easier on myself. That might be a good habit to get into now.