Monday, April 21, 2008


Today is Veteran's Day and most of the local folks are off. Boston Marathon and all that. I got a phone call this past weekend from two women with whom I used to work. They were teachers, later one of them became a writer (and I got her a spot at my publication). Both became moms, mostly stay at home, and in recent years expressed a desire to write freelance, probably fiction.

There was never a firm commitment, which is typical of their personalities. That's not really a criticism. They're just among the people we all know who are always trying a new thing. I can admire that. Seriously.

One, whom I will call Daisy, is a great spirit who tends to follow the crowd. The other, whom I will call Cathy, likes to be in charge. And for the past two years or so both are really, really, REALLY into their children.

Which I completely get. But I have to say, I have come across a phenomenon in some acquaintances who have children. It's very few of them. But it's a very notable few.

Everything is about them, their role as Madonna, and their issues with said role. Not being a mother, I tend to hesitate to pass criticism. (Ok, I tend to let other people do it and agree, but today is special.) Thing is, kids or no kids, in the da to day grind, I'm busier than most. And I watch and/or drive two very young kids three days a week. Plus I run several groups, participate in a few more, and write. And while you may not have seen me on the shelves at Barnes and Noble of late, I get paid to do local freelance stuff pretty regularly and happily meet those deadlines.

Still... lately I hear a lot of people using their kids as excuses for getting out of just about everything. Now, were these the moms who blow me away-- working or volunteering a few days a week, somehow putting out the real deal, and their kids are wonderful to have around-- you'd never get a blink out of me. These women BLOW ME AWAY. These women are heroes. These women have never made excuses to me about a deadline, a commitment, a get-together, or anything else.

I'm in awe.

No, it's always the moms who are late, have late kids, and seem to generate excuses the way a spider poops out web. Their kids are always causing a scene. They spend a great deal of time, regardless of what the gathering is intended for, complaining about the recent transgressions against their kid at school, church, playgroup, whatever. It's never Junior or Penny's fault. Which is odd, because usually I glance up at that point in the conversation to see one of the little bastards breaking something or pouring milk on another kid's head. I don't blame the kid. I just wish he or she had stayed home... and mom had, too.

So today I was thinking on this puzzle. I'd JUST hung up the phone with an old friend who teaches, runs a local cancer charity, and has two kids. One is 5, the other 3. I love her, love her kids, and they are always welcome here. She is the first person I call if I need help with something important. She's always up for it. Say what you want, but Kimmy is the sh*t. In the 12 years we have been friends I can never remember her using her children as an excuse not to do something, or as a lame reason for backing out, or as the weak explanation for lateness.

Fast forward an hour, and I am at a table with Daisy and Cathy. They have called me to help out with a fund raising effort. They need help DESPERATELY and can I come RIGHT AWAY?

I spent two and a half hours listening to both of them bitch about their kids, the people who pick on their kids, and why it's always somebody else's fault. Waiting patiently, I booted up my laptop, goofed off on forums, and actually got some work done contacting people for the other project. I also made three phone calls and fixed an error on a web page.

A few times I nudged Daisy and Cathy. "When you gals are ready, let me know."

They finished their drinks, got up, and exclaimed absolute shock that time had passed. Then Cathy asked me if I could "do the pamphlet" for the charity.

"Why me?" (Give me credit, I put on a huge, fake smile.)

"I'm just wayyyy too busy," she had the nerve to say.

Well that does suck. Because I can't imagine the actual project in question taking more than an hour. I just watched both of these women blow 2 1/2 hours on moaning, whining, and talking about kids somebody else was watching. It just totally sucks that they were both SO BUSY they couldn't get a breath to actually participate, ask for help, and earn the right to put their names right up top of the fund raising committee header.

When some other sap does the pamphlet, that's where they will be SURE to have their names placed.

And it sucks that today was such a busybusybusy day for both. Because now they may have to actually DO THE WORK. And they have kids. And I don't have any kids, so clearly I should feel bad and do their work for them.

Funnily enough, my friend Kimmy I just chatted with? I called her to ask for her help with a benefit dinner. She had one kid on her hip and was on the way to pick up the second, passing the daughter off to her husband. She said "yes" before I finished the question, invited myself and Ahmed to dinner, and made kissy noises into the phone before dashing off.

Daisy and Cathy, though... they were so burdened by motherhood they were forced to ignore me for 2 1/2 hours while they unburdened themselves. Which does suck. I mean, they really have it hard. Now they have even more stuff to bitch about.

As I sat here typing this out I had my cellphone plastered to my ear. I was taking trash with my busy executive pal, Susan. She had her 18 month old daughter, who just had surgery for a blastoma (cancer), at her feet. We were making other plans for the other benefit when I told her my tale of busybusybusy mothers.

"Aren't you worried," she asked, "that they'll read it and get pissed? Not that you care." She laughed, and so did I.

"Nope. I did ask them earlier on if either of them blogged or read blogs. I was going to point them at a new YA project I'm in on. Both said they were way too busy to bother with much more than email once a week, donchaknow."

"Why is it," she asked "the people who are the laziest, most lard-assed excuses for humanity, always claim to be the busiest?"

"Dunno," said I. "They were so busy I didn't get chance to ask."

Funny thing is, I knew these two women before they had kids, too. And in those days it was "my boyfriend," or something similar. Always excuses. The one I worked with at the paper-- got booted for missing deadlines. She was single then.

Huh. Weird.

2 comments ]:[ Add your comment:

Dana Belfry said...

Okay seriously, I'm just depressed.

I'm so sorry!

Chrissy said...

I lurve ya.

You're one of the really good ones, pookie!

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